New hotel planned just off Brighton seafront

A new hotel could be built just off Brighton seafront, behind the Metropole, by the company that owns the seafront landmark.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 11:41 am

Topland, which bought the Metropole ten years ago, has applied to replace the existing exhibition and conference halls with a nine-storey hotel with 221 bedrooms.

Next week, Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee is due to decide whether to grant planning permission for the proposed Cannon Place Hotel.

While the scheme involves demolishing the exhibitions halls, the owners plan to retain the façade of the grade II listed building at 31-32 Cannon Place, by the corner of St Margaret’s Place.

Officials have given their backing to the project although the decisions rests with councillors at a virtual meeting of the Planning Committee next Wednesday (10 February).

If they grant permission, Topland is expected to lease the new building to the Irish hotel group Dalata for 35 years while Hilton Hotels will continue to run the Metropole.

Topland said: “The hotel will both positively contribute towards Brighton’s tourist accommodation capacity, complementing the wider site’s role as a focus for key visitor accommodation, whilst also reintroducing a new vibrant use into an underused listed building, protecting its key heritage asset.

“The proposals will remove the blank and dominating elevations along both Cannon Place and St Margaret’s Place, associated with the rear of the Metropole, transforming the local street scene with new active frontages.”

A report to the council’s Planning Committee said that the principle of a hotel was “acceptable to justify the loss of conference facilities”.

It also said that the height and scale of the building was considered appropriate for the Regency Square Conservation Area.

But 19 neighbours have written to the council to object to the scheme which also faces opposition from the Regency Square Area Society and the Brighton Society.

The Regency Square Area Society was concerned about repairs to the older façades in Cannon Place and St Margaret’s Place and how a new mansard roof would affect the conservation area.

The society said: “Changes have been made to the proposals to raise the height all round, add a pseudo new storey to the south east tower and offer the Planning Department a choice of lighter grey colour upper floors to ‘soften’ the effect.

“All the new proposals fly in the face of public opinion and the council’s own rebuttal of the developer’s paid consultee assessments.”

The Brighton Society said that the design was not sympathetic with the area. It said: “It is an overbearing, poorly conceived and poorly designed proposal, out of context with its conservation area surroundings in terms of scale, form, detailing and materials.

“It attempts to cram too much accommodation on to its sensitive site.”

One neighbour, whose details were redacted by the council, was worried about pedestrian safety in the busy road.

The neighbour said: “Dropped kerbs are helpful to people with wheeled luggage, wheelchairs, pushchairs, etc, but they do nothing to help pedestrians safely across the road itself.

“Cannon Place near the new hotel entrance is a three-lane road with motor traffic, including large delivery vehicles, entering from multiple junctions and exits. It is, at times, a fast and busy road.”

Another neighbour said that the development was next to two major hotels, the Grand and the Metropole, and there was a greater need for housing.

The neighbour said: “One of the biggest problems facing students and people living in Brighton at the moment is the shortage of housing.

“It is more important to focus on providing more housing and fewer hotels since we already have plenty in Brighton.”

The Planning Committee is due to start at 2pm next Wednesday and the meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.