A ‘cramped’ Co-op shop in Kemp Town will almost double in size by extending into the former restaurant next door.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the retailer’s planning application to take over the former 24 restaurant in St George’s Road.
East Brighton ward councillor Nancy Platts spoke on behalf of people living above and to the back of the Co-op on the corner of College Place.
She said that one or two were concerned that if they did not support the application then the former restaurant would be left vacant and the courtyard at the back would continue to be neglected.
Councillor Platts said: “This is a large-scale development in what is considered a village area.
“Small businesses are concerned it will take aware their trade.
“It is quite a narrow street and there are concerns about increased deliveries (and) increased noise to residents.”
Neighbours have complained about bakers’ cages left in the street.
Councillor Platts, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, told the committee that she had complained, as had neighbours, and the council’s highways department had asked store bosses to remove them.
However, they remained in the street.
After the decision Councillor Platts said: “Residents living above the Co-op in St George’s Road will be disappointed by today’s planning decision.
“It was worrying that some of the councillors’ questions about how many residents had been spoken to and how many flats are above the store could not be fully answered at today’s committee.
“I hope that the Co-op will take great care in consulting the owners of the flats and listening to their concerns before proceeding with their scheme.”
Co-op’s town planning manager Chris Edge agreed that the bakers’ cages were an issue but there was nowhere to store them in the shop.
He said that the proposed extension would give staff somewhere to store them.
Mr Edge told the planning committee that the current shop was too small. He said: “Currently it is very cramped and not fit for purpose.
“The cages on the street, the queuing for the checkouts in the aisles … it’s not suitable.”
Mr Edge said that the Co-op had carried out consultation, spoken with previous ward councillors and the area’s MP.
Green councillor Sue Shanks questioned whether deliveries would still be at the front of the building.
Mr Edge said that the Co-op had wanted to knock a hole through the wall on the College Place side of the building but faced too much opposition.
Labour councillor Daniel Yates spoke in support of the application.
He said: “The Co-op is increasing its space because it is busy and the store needs to fulfil the community’s needs.”
Conservative councillor Dee Simson also backed the application. She said: “It’s a really good use of the building that would just sit there without being redeveloped.”
Neighbour Martin Gratton went the planning committee meeting but said that he felt angry because neighbours were not invited to speak despite sending in 30 letters of objection.
The council said that objectors had to apply to the committee for the chance to speak.
After the meeting Mr Gratton said: “There’s no feasibility study whatsoever. It’s not going to work. It’s made of bungaroosh with plywood walls.”
He also questioned the Co-op’s claim that there would be no extra deliveries given that the enlarged shop would be three times as big as the current premises.