Decision due on student flats planned for Brighton’s London Road

A former 1930s shop may be demolished to make way for new shops and student flats.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 11:31 am

Developer McLaren Property proposes demolishing the former Marks and Spencer building next to Aldi in London Road, Brighton, to replace it with a four to five-storey building with 156 purpose-built student flats and flexible retail space on the ground floor.

At the moment 5-8 London Road, has Peacocks, Iceland and Poundland on the ground floor.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee are advised to be “minded to grant” permission when they are due to discuss the plans on Wednesday 10 February.

The design and development team, including architects from Morgan Carn, gave the London Road Local Action Team (LAT) a presentation about the scheme in September.

LAT Chair Philip Wells, whose details were removed on the council’s website, commented the presentation was well received, particularly by residents in Providence Place.

He said: “The site adjoins and overlooks Providence Place Park – which was the subject of a detailed improvement programme in which the LAT was an enthusiastic and involved participant.

“The architect was clearly aware of the issues and potential of the immediate area – and the design clearly reflected that concern.

“Should the development go ahead, it will certainly be an improvement in this regard.”

A person who followed the presentation, whose details were also removed, wrote to support the scheme as they hope the security at the student entrance to the building will positively impact Providence Place, which has anti-social behaviour and drugs issues.

They said: “Should we keep ugly, badly planned, dirty buildings whose doorways contribute to antisocial problems in place because of temporary noise and inconvenience or should we look to the future with new, purpose-built, mixed-use buildings of interesting design where thought has been given to the different needs of residents and traders?

“The bigger picture is one where, after due consultation with all concerned parties, a cleaner, brighter, more appropriate building will enhance the area for all.”

A neighbour against the plans is concerned about the noise and impact of the demolition process.

They said: “If this new demolition goes ahead it will disrupt the day to day living of the Residents and effect the people mental and well being.

“Please consider this at highest priority as it involves residents wellbeing and quality of life.”

Another neighbour raised concern about the development as student accommodation.

They said: “It is likely, especially with the thousands of new student dwellings at the university and on Lewes Road, the developers will soon apply for a change of use.

“The area has too many students already who, at such a number, do not add to the community and increase the amount of antisocial behaviour such as drinking and creating late-night noise (already a problem).”

Ardmore Language Schools, managing director Martin Corr said the development provide “much-needed” accommodation not just for students during the academic year but also for the summer conference market, and year-round language school academic provision”.

The language school run courses with both Brighton College and the University of Brighton.

A letter from the University of Sussex said it is not taking out a “nomination agreement” to promote the flats among its students.

The university’s deputy director of estates, facilities and commercial services Francine Hill wrote the location is “positive”.

However, students regularly raise concerns about the nearby 25 bus capacity to both university campuses at Falmer and Moulsecoomb at certain times of the day.

McLaren Property development director David Atherton said: “Unfortunately, the existing building has now reached the end of its economic life and is sadly attracting anti-social behaviour.

“The proposed replacement incorporates fit-for-purpose retail space and makes efficient use of the site to also provide properly managed student housing that will help take the pressure of local housing stock.

“We are pleased to receive the positive comments from local institutions and for the support and input we have had from the LAT, Regency Society and local ward councillor.”

The “virtual” Planning Committee meeting is webcast on the council website from 2pm on Wednesday 10 February.