Draft agreement for Hove block of flats if appeal is successful

A new Hove block of flats could mean an extra £1 million for Brighton and Hove City Council to spend if the scheme is granted permission by a government planning inspector.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 11:51 am
Proposals for new flats in Hove

The plans will be decided by an inspector because the council turned down an application by RKO Developments to build 94 flats on the corner of Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue.

RKO appealed – and with the hearing just two weeks away, the council’s Planning Committee was asked to approve a draft deal for “developer contributions” in case the appeal was allowed.

The £32 million scheme was refused planning permission in September last year because of the size of the proposed building and the lack of “affordable” homes. The plans involved demolishing five existing Edwardian houses.

Yesterday (Wednesday 1 December), when the Planning Committee met at Hove Town Hall, Labour councillor Nick Childs criticised the lack of affordable housing.

He asked how the developer would manage to pay the community infrastructure levy (CIL), which was likely to total about £1 million, but could not include affordable housing.

A planning official said that a “viability” assessment forecast a £2.6 million deficit for the scheme, making it financially unviable to include affordable housing or to pay the council money a “commuted sum”.

The commuted sum would go towards the cost of building affordable housing elsewhere – and a figure of £345,000 had originally been suggested.

Councillor Childs said: “It’s odd that the developer or any private company would want to proceed with something which has a £2.6 million deficit. It’s very strange indeed.

“I just wonder if there’s been some creative accountancy here and how long that deficit will last once that application is permitted or otherwise.”

He was told that developers were allowed to include a “reasonable profit level” in the viability assessment.

Conservative councillor Carol Theobald was also unhappy with the lack of affordable housing.

She said: “These developers are paying too much for the land. It’s going from five households to 94 units and they cannot afford affordable housing. It doesn’t add up.”

If the appeal succeeds, the committee voted to seek a review process before the flats are occupied to see whether it would be viable to provide affordable housing or a “commuted sum”, a contribution of £26,100 towards employment and training, an artistic component to the scheme worth £32,300 and the replacement of every tree lost with three new ones.

If the planning appeal is granted, councillors were told that RKO Developments would have three years to start work.