Flat build could leave home ‘floating in mid air’

Wayne Coley at the back of house where the floating first floor is not supported by the garden wall and has a thin dividing wall separating it from its neighbour
Wayne Coley at the back of house where the floating first floor is not supported by the garden wall and has a thin dividing wall separating it from its neighbour

The quirky design of a Hove house means that if plans to demolish the adjoining building to make way for a new block of flats goes ahead, its first floor could be left ‘floating’ in mid air.

Wayne Coley and husband Olly Carter were surprised when they discovered the odd way their 1926 house in Kingsway had been designed when they modernised it four years ago.

Under the floating first floor at the houses in Kingsway, Hove. The wall is not load bearing

Under the floating first floor at the houses in Kingsway, Hove. The wall is not load bearing

But surprise turned to horror this year when they discovered the house next door is set to go as part of Agenda Homes’ plans build an eight storey block of 39 flats on the corner of Braemore Road and Kingsway – which will leave their floating first floor without support.

After moving in four years ago, Mr Coley and Mr Carter have modernised the 1926 Arts and Crafts style house into their dream home.

During the renovation Mr Coley went to The Keep to look up the original plans, he discovered the rear first-floor bedroom had no support between the two houses.

The floating first floor design was a late addition to the build to extend the rooms in both houses, and there is just a void underneath them.

Wayne Coley and Olly Carter's home as it is today after four year's work

Wayne Coley and Olly Carter's home as it is today after four year's work

Mr Coley said “We completely renovated the house from top to bottom. This was when I found the steels floating between the two buildings.”

This is the only point where the two buildings touch.

Demolishing the house next door would leave part of the bedroom floating in mid-air with no support or wall as there is just a thin partition between the two houses there.

He said: “When these houses were built there was no insulation. You can hear everything.”

The couple were also shocked to find the new block of flats would stick out beyond the front of their home.

Mr Coley said: “The balconies wrap around the building, so people will be looking into our home.

“We paid a premium for this beautiful 180° view, now we’ll have an eight-storey block of flats sticking out the front with people looking in at us.

“This is our forever home. We were happy as long as there was no impact on our building.”

Mr Carter said: “They would need to build a new external wall and gift it to us, with all the legal implications that involves.

“They said they would write a letter of comfort. This is supposed to detail what they will do and their intentions when it comes to supporting the wall.”

The couple understand why the flats are being built, as until the developer bought the three houses which are set to make way for the new block, just four people lived in them.

Now two are used as Airbnbs for up to 20 people until the development goes ahead.

Developer Agenda Homes said it has carried out extensive consultations before submitting plans, and the its founder and CEO Jamie Barratt has spoken with the couple and said they have nothing to worry about.

He said: “I have spoken with Wayne and Olly and understand it is a big concern. But in terms of the project it is a detail.

“We do give attention to these details. If you don’t work with building regulations then you’ll find yourself not operating.”

Mr Barratt said the building will be intact and any work will occur to cause minimal disturbance.

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.

For more of her stories, click here.