Tower blocks and 553 homes planned for Brighton gasworks site

Posted On 21 Jan 2022 at 8:14 pm

A developer has submitted plans to build 553 homes on the former Brighton gasworks site just north of the Marina.

But the prospect of 11 tower blocks – up to 12 storeys high – has drawn hundreds of objections from neighbours and civic societies.

One group which was set up to oppose the plans, Aghast, said: “The scheme features a conglomeration of densely packed, tall buildings up to 12 storeys high that will overwhelm the natural and historical landscape of East Brighton.”

And the Kemp Town Society said: “The proposed gasworks development … neighbours the grade I listed buildings of the Kemp Town Estate.

“The density of the proposed development is significantly out of proportion with all surrounding architecture.

“This will have a serious and detrimental impact on current infrastructure, quality of life for residents and visitors, and public health and safety.”

The application has been submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council by St William Homes LLP, a 50-50 joint venture between the Berkeley Group Holdings PLC and National Grid PLC

The housebuilder and the utility company aim to transform the old Brighton gasworks site bounded by Roedean Road, Marina Way and Boundary Road, Brighton.

They said: “The application proposes to deliver a high-quality residential-led mixed-use development and a series of key planning and regeneration benefits.”

These included the “regeneration, restoration and reuse of an underutilised brownfield site” with 553 homes – mostly flats – and about 3,000 square metres of floorspace for commercial use, potentially creating more than 200 jobs.

They gave “a commitment to creating employment and training opportunities for local people”, with work for about 200 people expected during the construction phase.

And they said that the scheme included “a high-quality design which achieves the council’s expectations of positively contributing to the varying character of existing residential and commercial properties in the vicinity to create a cohesive and attractive urban environment”.

There would be “new routes into and through the site, providing safe, coherent and high-quality links between the site and to the surrounding area”.

In addition the project would enable the decontamination of long disused site where two gasholders once stored huge volumes of gas.

But the cost would make it impossible to provide “affordable” housing on the site, they said.

A visualisation of the flats planned for the Brighton gasworks site as seen from the east

In all, they expected the scheme to generate an extra £8.6 million a year for the local economy and it could raise an extra £1 million a year in council tax.

Aghast said: “Today (Friday 21 January) is the final day for submitting objections.”

Labour councillors Nancy Platts and Gill Williams, who represent East Brighton ward, wrote to the developers and said: “Key to gaining the support of local residents are the following issues.”

  • Affordable housing – that means affordable to local people on local wages
  • Design that relates meaningfully to the local area
  • Development that meets the city’s own guidelines on density and height
  • Safe decontamination of the area

They were concerned about shortcomings in the consultation process as well as about the details of the project from its height, bulk and scale to the prospect of a “wind tunnel”.

Councillor Nancy Platts

Conservative councillor Mary Mears, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, which includes the site, has also submitted a formal objection to the scheme.

The Kemp Town Society said: “No learnings appear to have been incorporated from the overturning and recent ruling on the Brighton Marina development.

“The grade I Kemp Town Estate is a conservation area of national importance. It is unique among Britain’s conservation areas, all buildings being listed.

“This status demands it is given exceptional protection against harm from developments which could be detrimental to the quality of its character.

“It is imperative that any development on the gasworks site is of first-class architectural quality and respects the scale, height and character of the consistent architectural excellence of the neighbouring buildings.

“The proposed development conspicuously fails to respect the architectural distinction of the surrounding buildings.

“The current proposal for a densely packed conglomeration of tall blocks will dominate its surrounding neighbours by sheer size, height, scale, density and massing, with impact well beyond the curtilage of the development.

“The planning inspector for the Brighton Marina Appeal was critical of the jarring relationship of the Marina proposals to the heritage assets in the immediate vicinity.

“Endorsed by the planning inspector and the Secretary of State, these are more relevant when applied to the relationship of the tall, densely packed buildings of the gasworks development to those of the same heritage assets as described.

“With the Marina development now turned down, any proposal that tall buildings are acceptable on the gasworks site is no longer relevant.”

Like the ward councillors, the Kemp Town Society also had concerns about the effects of the scheme on local infrastructure.

It cited pressure on medical provision, schools, parking and public transport, “all of which are currently fully used by local residents”.

It was concerned about extra traffic and disruption affecting “the congested A259 and Eastern Road”, the Royal Sussex County Hospital – and the health risk from extra pollution as well as pedestrian safety.

The gasworks planning application, BH2021/04167, is due to be decided in March.

  1. Valerie Reply

    Call it Rocky Mountain Steps why not! It is a very big solid wodge of overbearing concrete. It really is off the scale lumpen. Far too much forced into far too small an area, out of scale with surroundings.

    Presumably the planners welcome it because of the City Plan identified housing target the Govt forces their feet to the fires of Whitehall to meet! Hard to block.

  2. Ian Reply

    I HOPE Is all affordable housing for Brighton born residents

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      No, they will all be expensive luxury flats for foreign investors, as with those in the Marina, if the developers get their way, which is why so many residents are up in arms about it.

  3. Itsallthesame Reply

    Just a joke. Make the site safe and affordable. Berkeley and Nat grid make fortunes and don’t care where or what they build.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Unfortunately for Brighton residents who would very rightly like a home to call their own on affordable terms, you are totally right. The site can be made safe without deep excavations for luxury flats, and lower-rise affordable homes could be built there, but, of course, the very greedy developers have chosen a different and dangerous option. There are many other grounds on which this development can be challenged and that is being done, but the more objections that can be mustered, the better. Go to the Council website, planning apps, read the instructions, register and object.

      By the way, the Health and Safety Executive considers the developer’s plans unacceptable in terms of fire hazard, which tells you all you need to know about the developers cramming in all these tower blocks etc. However, having a moan on B&H News is not going to get this development stopped, so anyone who objects needs to complain to the Council as described above.

      Deadline for comments/objections was yesterday, but you can object up until it goes to Planning Committee, so suggest that if you do object then you do so.

  4. mike Reply

    The ground is packed full of toxic vapours you’re going to release to all residents of kemptown

    Surely that’s the most important thing to cover than how tall it is it what material it’s made out of

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Indeed, Mike. A couple of years down the road, if this thing isn’t stopped in its tracks now, we’ll be reading a bland report about a toxic cloud hanging over Kemp Town, East Brighton and heaven knows where else.

    • Greens out Reply

      The O2 (dome) in Greenwhich was built on the site of not just a former gasworks but also a large industrial estate that consisted of numerous road haulage depots which had been there for many many decades (my family’s transport company occupied one of these yards from 1910 to its decommissioning so am fully aware of how bad it was). This land was literally saturated with pollutants. Not aware of anyone having keeled over from poisoning at the site.

      Also, “The proposed gasworks development … neighbours the grade I listed buildings of the Kemp Town Estate.” The site is between the hideous Marine Gate and the even more hideous Courcels building. It’s at the bottom of the hideous badlands of Whitehawk. Get a grip and let it get built. It’s needed.

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