Homes and office space for site near Hove station

An international exhibitions business based in Hove promised homes and jobs as councillors gave their backing to a scheme to build 52 flats.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 2:16 pm
Davigdor Road New Build, image by HGP Architects for Withdean Commercial

Imex, which currently employs 60 people near Hove station, expects to create 30 more jobs as a result of the decision.

It plans to move its growing team into the building which will include almost 900 square metres of grade A office space – the highest grade.

The scheme – for a site in Davigdor Road – was granted planning permission by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday (June 12).

The company’s chief executive Carina Bauer said: “We are delighted that the committee endorsed the officers’ recommendation to approve our investment and growth plans in Hove.

“This will help safeguard 60 local jobs and create grade A office accommodation for an additional 30 local jobs and provide 52 much-needed homes for local people.

“We’ve made a commitment to deliver affordable homes and we’re committed to meeting the sustainability requirements of the city too.”

Work on the £25 million scheme – on the site of the old Hyde housing association offices – is expected to start next year.

The project is expected to contribute £2.65 million year to the local economy.

More than three dozen people objected to the plans for a building which will be up to eight storeys high, although councillors were told that planning permission had already been granted for a taller building on the site.

Some objectors wanted more “affordable” housing but the Planning Committee heard that the five affordable flats – or 10 per cent – would be more than the 5 per cent deemed viable by the independent district valuer.

The plans included 21 parking spaces, with 12 for residents and a condition preventing residents from being eligible for on-street parking permits in the area.

Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who represents Goldsmid ward, objected to the scheme.

She said that the neighbouring building, known as Artisan, was “incredibly prominent” and that more large, bulky buildings were proposed.

Councillor O’Quinn said that the application was out of character with the area which mostly had two or three-storey terraced townhouses and some four-storey blocks of flats.

Her statement said: “It would have been much appreciated if there had been more consultation with local residents and local councillors so they were aware of the potential for a rather large numbers of residents in an area, Lyon’s Close, which had none only two years ago, only retail businesses.

“I fully support the company, Imex, with their desire for a larger office space for their growing company and I also applaud the fact that they pay above average wages for Brighton and Hove.

“However, as I pointed out to them, it was a shame that they had to build 52 flats in order to pay for their new offices.

“It is also a shame that they are offering such a low amount of affordable housing, just below 10 per cent, with only five units being offered on a shared ownership basis.”

Neighbourhood group Hove Gold had been expected to speak against the scheme at the meeting but no one from the group was present.

The group is currently in the process of trying to draw up a neighbourhood plan.

Objectors have called for high-density low-rise townhouses in the area.

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty asked why the council’s policy of up to 40 per cent affordable housing was not deliverable.

Planning consultant Peter Rainier, from DMH Stallarad, said that costs had increased and the site had more office space and fewer flats than the previous scheme which was submitted by Hyde.

Green councillor Sue Shanks questioned whether the benefit to Imex of building its own offices had been taken into account when it came to working out how many affordable homes were viable on the site.

Conservative councillor Joe Miller asked why the company had not been able to find any suitable offices locally during an 18-month search.

Carina Bauer said that the company, which organises two of the biggest events in the world for the trade show sector, in Frankfurt and Las Vegas, wanted all its staff to be on one floor.

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who voted against the scheme, asked whether the flats would sell, citing the neighbouring Artisan building.

Out of the 49 flats there, 28 had been sold and 10 rented out while 11 were still available.

Mr Rainier said: “It was probably priced too high initially but the demand is there.”

Eight of the ten members of the Planning Committee voted for the scheme, with one against and one – Green councillor Leo Littman – abstaining.

As a condition of its planning permission the developer is required to pay a contribution towards local services including: £57,000 for sustainable transport; £137,000 for recreation and open spaces; £19,000 for an artistic component

£45,000 towards secondary and sixth form education; and £25,000 for local employment.

It will also be expected to use local workers for 20 per cent of the jobs during demolition and construction.