A student housing village can now be built on the former Bennett’s field car park by the Amex Stadium after a planning inspector approved the plans on appeal.
Lewes District Council refused plans for the two six-storey blocks and a two-storey link, with 555 bedrooms and a new road and footpath from The Drove in October 2022.
Lewes District Council cited the proposed buildings’ substantial height, bulk and unsympathetic design and called it an “unacceptably and incongruous feature” on the landscape.
The site ceased use as a car park in June 2021, and the developers, Downing Students (Brighton) LPI – owned by Matthew Bennet and Richard Bennett – bought the site in August 2021.
Graham Wyatt, the planning inspector said: “There is no escaping the fact that the proposed building is large and would be at odds with the bowl-shaped Amex Community Stadium (ACS) building.
“I am not persuaded that its design would detract from the wider area and moreover, it responds positively to the context of its built-up surroundings as a previously developed site that sits closely to a very large football stadium.
“Additionally, whilst close to its boundaries, the appeal site is nonetheless located outside of the South Downs National Park (SDNP).
“Moreover, I am not persuaded that the proposal would harm the transition between Brighton’s urban edge and the SDNP nor its tranquillity at this particular point, given the presence of the ACS, a train station, the A27 and other developments.
“I accept that the development is likely to benefit Brighton more than it will benefit Lewes.
“However, it is evident that Brighton by far has the greatest need to prevent family housing being lost through the conversion into smaller units, flats, or housing in multiple occupation for students to occupy.
“Moreover, I am not aware of any restriction on Lewes District Council that it should only provide accommodation for students within its own administrative area, and it is feasible that students from University of Sussex and Brighton will occupy the building.”
The only parking included in the plans are two disabled parking spaces, but there will be more than 300 cycle spaces for residents, staff and visitors.
The accommodation will be split into 130 studio rooms, 397 student “cluster” rooms, 18 accessible studios and 10 accessible “cluster” rooms.
Martin Fenlon, associate projects director at Downing Students, said: “Like many parts of the UK, there is significant demand for high-quality purpose-built student accommodation in Brighton.
“We are delighted that planning has been granted for this new development, that will see the delivery of 555 beds across two interlocking linear buildings with a central social hub.
“This will not only relieve pressure on the existing stock of student accommodation but housing provision in the surrounding areas.
“We intend to work closely with the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, to ensure the new accommodation will meet the long-term needs of its student population, whilst also benefitting the wider community.
“In line with our commitment to sustainability, the scheme will be delivered to a BREEAM Excellent standard.”