A Brighton college hopes to build five-storey block for 230 students

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An independent sixth form college wants to house more than 230 students in a new five-storey block in Brighton, writes Local Democracy Reporter Sarah Booker-Lewis.

Kings Education, in Ditchling Road, Brighton wants to build 232 student rooms, above a row of shops, along a stretch of London Road just behind its current premises.

The plans, which are due to go before councillors next week, involve demolishing the squat three-storey building which is currently there. It is home to branches of the Co-op and Boots and a vacant snooker hall.

Officials have advised Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee to approve the scheme which includes a launderette, gym and student lounge.

The Regency Society supports the proposal  saying that the current 1970s structure would “not be missed”.

Neighbours have raised concerns about the height of the building as have the Brighton Society and the Conservation Advisory Group.

Both groups said that the building was two storeys too high and would affect views of the nearby grade I listed St Bartholomew’s Church from The Level.

Neighbours’ objections include concern about the increasing number of students moving into the area.

Kings Education moved into the neighbouring site on the corner of Ditchling Road and Oxford Place in 2017. It was previously occupied by the carpet firm Buxtons.

One objector wrote anonymously on the council’s planning website: “I live close to this proposed development and I am very concerned about the possible increase of 232 students into such an overpopulated area.

“We already have a high student and multiple occupancy population around London Road (the old Co-op, the language school/residence in Ditchling Road and also the students living in privately rented accommodation in Hanover, Lewes Road, etc).

“I am not against students but believe that rather than concentrating one demographic in one area, we should spread them out so that we have diverse communities.”

Another commenter wrote: “The more students coming into this area, the more noise, drunken behaviour and vandalism to parked cars.

“Not to say that only students behave this way but from my view of the street, when I hear noise, drunken behaviour or vandalism to cars, it is usually a young person who could therefore be a student.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has asked for swift boxes to be included in the building as many of the birds’ nesting sites are lost during developments.

If councillors grant planning permission, the developer would be expected to pay £233,000 towards open spaces and recreation, £72,000 towards public art and £23,000 for economic development, making £328,000 in total.

The scheme has been submitted by developer Curlew Opportunities, with Brighton firm Lewis and Co acting as the planning consultants for the scheme.

The council’s Planning Committee is expected to decide the application at a meeting at Hove Town Hall next Wednesday (20 March). The meeting is due to start at 1.30pm and is open to the public.