Campaigners set to fight Hove tower block proposal – which goes before planners next week

Davigdor Road New Build, image by HGP Architects for Withdean Commercial
Davigdor Road New Build, image by HGP Architects for Withdean Commercial

Campaigners against high rises in Hove will try to convince councillors not to approve plans for another towerblock next week.

Withdean Commercial Property’s plan to build 894sqm of office space on the ground floor and 52 flats on the site of the former Hyde offices in Davigdor Road has been recommended for approval by officers.

The developer is working with Hove-based Imex Exhibitions, which says it has outgrown its Ellen Street offices and wants to build new offices, a basement car park and 52 flats on the old Hyde site.

But the final decision lies with the city council’s planning committee which meets next Wednesday (June 12).

Members of the Hove Gold action group, formed in response to this and other high-rise developments in the area, spoke at March’s committee against plans for 152 flats in four blocks for the neighbouring Peacock Industrial Estate in Lyon Close. These were approved.

Read more: ‘Enough is enough’: Hove residents to campaign against high rise plans

The group is also concerned about yet more plans for blocks of 80 flats and a hotel at the corner of Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue which have yet to be decided.

As well as the offices the housing element is 22 one-bedroom,  27 x two-bedroom and three, three-bedroom flats in a part five-storey, part eight storey block.

Twenty-one parking spaces are planned for the site, with nine serving the offices and the other 12 for the two and three-bedroomed flat owners. Ninety cycle parking spaces are also planned.

The application has 49 objections and 17 letters of support on Brighton and Hove City Council’s website.

‘Utter disgrace’

Comments left on planning applications are all published anonymously on the council’s website.

One said: “It is an utter disgrace if you allow the over development of this site. The Artisan [a neighbouring housing development] is a blot on the landscape and still empty.

“There has been no REAL employment created to replace the loss of jobs from Hyde Housing from the Happy Cell and later Graham Plumbing Trade Point and Howdens.

“We can’t park we can’t get Dr’s appointments. Or dentists. The traffic will be horrendous. Don’t destroy this area any further.

Another objector wrote: “Thirty flats have already been delivered by the building of Artisan next door, and 168 flats are formally proposed in the industrial area immediately to the north of this site.

“It is understood that the P&H Building next door is also earmarked for conversion to residential flats.

“In total, therefore this site is potentially bringing in the region of 300 new residential units to an already overcrowded city centre space, with no prospect and any additional service provision.

“The local school, which will be serving this site, already hosts 950 children and is the second largest in the country.”

Affordability concerns

Goldsmid ward Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn has objected, questioning the shortage of office space in the area by pointing out the Dubarry Perfume factory could not rent out its office space and the neighbouring P&H office block sits empty.

She also questioned the affordability of the homes as the developer has not complied with the city council’s policy for 40 per cent affordable homes in larger developments was another objection.

Councillor O’Quinn wrote: “The flats are likely to be very expensive, and even at 80 per cent of cost they would not be affordable to the majority of people who live in the city.

“This application, if granted, would most likely suffer the same fate as Artisan, where a tiny number of flats have been sold due to their high cost.”

The affordable element of the scheme would be five flats, one two-bedroom and four one-bedroom flat which would be in shared ownership.

‘Perfect place’ for housing

Currently the developer is reviewing the profits from the scheme to see if it could pay the council for affordable homes off-site.

A commenter supporting the plans wrote: “This building fits in well with its neighbours and is the perfect place for much needed housing in our city.

“Parking should be minimal as it has good walking and bus access to the centre.

“Many people will object to it simply because it is bigger than what was there before – with that attitude our city would quite simply not exist – I’m excited about its expansion and welcoming more people here. ”

Another supporter wrote: “It’s very important that we retain our local businesses and office space in Hove is sorely lacking.

“I support developments like this that will help us retain and grow existing businesses. It is crucial for the future for our children to support such investments.”

As well as affordable housing, if the application is successful then the developer will be required to pay out the following: £57,0000 for sustainable transport; £137,090 for recreation and open spaces; £19,000 for an artistic component

£45,376.40 towards secondary and sixth form education; £25,140 for local employment; and use 20 per cent local labour during the demolition and construction.

None of the education money is going towards primary schools which are described in the report going before the committee as having sufficient spaces whereas both Blatchington Mill and Hove Park secondary schools are full.

Imex Exhibitions shares current and former directors with Withdean Commercial Property, and one with Brighton and Hove Albion.

The application goes before Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee which meets in public from 2pm at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday, June 12.