King Alfred development: Battle over affordable homes in ‘unviable’ scheme

The designs for the King Alfred Centre from Kingsway
The designs for the King Alfred Centre from Kingsway

Plans for 565 homes and a £40m leisure centre in Hove could be built with no affordable housing – or not happen at all.

But one half of the development team, Rob Starr of The Starr Trust, remained optimistic about the scheme, and said: “Our commitment remains to deliver it all.”

A council report reveals that two years after winning the bid, developer Crest Nicholson continues to negotiate with Brighton and Hove City Council over the legal details of the £400m scheme for the King Alfred Leisure Centre.

The developer has asked for wording in the agreement around affordable housing to be changed, as the scheme is no longer commercially viable, council officers said.

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The report to the policy and resources committee said: “In supporting the more flexible terms, the council would be accepting that Crest’s planning application could conceivably deliver no affordable housing.”

It has asked the council to revise the wording in the agreement which would allow the developer to instead make a payment to social housing schemes elsewhere if it was proved delivering some or all of the 20 per cent affordable homes was unviable.

The report said Crest – which won the bid to develop the site with charity The Starr Trust – claimed that even without any affordable homes, the scheme would fall short of the 20 per cent profit level needed for developers to go ahead.

As the scheme stands, the profit level would be 7.4 per cent, the report said. Without affordable housing it would be 12.4 per cent. This is even with a £15.2m Government grant for developments on a tight profit margin.

The long-awaited development will be discussed by councillors on Thursday (December 6).

They will be asked to note the revised terms, allow officers to continue negotiating, and to approve the exploration of ‘alternative options for the delivery of the redevelopment... if the development agreement is not agreed by the end of January 2019’.

To read the council report in full, click here.