Flats approved for old maternity hospital site

80 Buckingham Road as it is now on Google Streetview
80 Buckingham Road as it is now on Google Streetview

Planners have approved a proposal to turn a set of old buildings near Brighton station into 34 flats.

Fourteen of the flats, in Buckingham Road, Brighton, are earmarked for ‘affordable’ housing – eight for affordable rent and six as shared ownership.

But at the moment there is no registered social landlord in place to take on the scheme and concerns were expressed about the prospect of finding one.

The Buckingham Road scheme was given planning permission by Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday (August 15).

Earlier, at the same meeting, councillors had agreed to revise conditions relating to affordable homes at two other sites.

A key consideration was the lack of interest among registered social landlords – or housing associations – for small numbers of rented homes.

As the committee discussed the Buckingham Road plans, Conservative councillor Lee Wares asked whether developers should have a management agreement in place with a housing association before their plans were considered.

Cllr Wares said: “Why can’t this discussion take place so we don’t find ourselves in this position again in 18 months (so we are) not having to consider the scheme again because it has unravelled.”

He was told that the number of affordable flats in the Buckingham Road scheme and the way that they were grouped together would make them more attractive to social landlords.

The latest plans for the site include 14 flats instead of four townhouses at 76-79 Buckingham Road.

Next door, at number 80, 20 flats would be built and the frame of the existing building would be retained rather than replaced.

The site has previously been home to Brighton Grammar School – now BHASVIC (Brighton, Hove and Sussex VI Form College) in Dyke Road in Hove – and the Sussex Maternity Hospital.

A plaque commemorating EJ Marshall, headmaster from 1861 to 1899, is fixed to number 79.

And Labour councillor Julie Cattell, who chairs the planning committee, joked about putting up a blue plaque for Green councillor Leo Littman.

She made her light-hearted suggestion after Cllr Littman reminded the committee that he had been born at the old maternity hospital.

The plans, which also include a community space, car parking, cycle parking and landscaping, were approved unanimously.

The 14 affordable homes – or just over 40 per cent – in the converted Victorian townhouses include 12 with two bedrooms and two one-bedroom flats. Two of the properties will be suitable for wheelchair users.

All 20 flats in the five-storey block on the corner of Upper Gloucester Road will have balconies.

The 1970s building – most recently used by the council but empty since 2015 – has been partially demolished and is now stripped back to its frame.

It will house five one-bedroom flats, 14 with two bedrooms and one with three bedrooms.

The applicant, Buckingham Developments (Brighton), has agreed to contribute more than £140,000 including more than £97,000 towards open spaces in the area, nearly £30,000 for secondary education and £16,500 for sustainable transport.

Councillor Julie Cattell, chair of the city’s planning committee, said: “This is a good use of a site to provide new quality homes for people in the city. The redesign of 80 Buckingham Road will create a modern, well-designed building that fits well with the traditional Victorian townhouses and surrounding area.”

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

For more of her stories, click here.