New redevelopment ideas for King Alfred site to be explored

King Alfred Leisure Centre
King Alfred Leisure Centre

New sites and new ideas will be looked at as part of redevelopment plans for the King Alfred.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee formally made the decision to consider multiple sites to the west as they ended the proposed scheme with Crest Nicholson and the Starr Trust.

Crest Nicholson pulled out of the £228 million project to build homes and a new leisure centre on the site in Kingsway, Hove, back in August.

Yesterday (Thursday 10 October) the committee heard a plea from Rob Starr, who runs the Starr Trust, to continue working with him and a new partner.

Mr Starr told the committee that he had Legal and General on board to deliver the project as the company was a leading investor in the growing build-to-rent market.

He said that his legal advice contradicted the advice given to council officers and that Crest Nicholson pulling out did not necessarily have to mean the end of the project.

He said: “Do you want the King Alfred to be developed or not?

“Do you want to throw away a £15 million government grant?”

Nick Hibberd, the council’s executive director for the economy, environment and culture, said that the end of the Crest Nicholson project did not mean that the council would not receive the grant.

He said: “The funding is still allocated to the project. We are going to ask Homes England about allocating it to a different project.”

Green convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty asked the committee to consider a multi-site option for housing and leisure and called for a five-year timescale.

He said: “There are a number of sites in the city, large brownfield sites, which are much closer to public transport.

“The King Alfred is not easy to get to by public transport. There are other sites that are easier to get to for housing.”

Councillor Mac Cafferty said a multi-site scheme had been considered in the past.

He shared his frustration with the committee about Crest Nicholson’s resistance to sign for three years after winning the contract due to Brexit, asking if the company had been “under a rock”.

Labour councillor Clare Moonan said that as one of the Central Hove ward councillors, she was often asked what was happening with the King Alfred.

She said: “Affordable housing got squeezed. This gives us the opportunity to drive for more affordable housing on a new site.

“This has fallen victim to Brexit. It has gone on and on. It is just exasperating.”

Save Hove campaigner Valerie Paynter asked whether the council was willing to write off the £1 million losses it had incurred yearly for the past 12 years since the previous proposal by Karis fell through.

The Labour council leader Nancy Platts said that the council had spent £420,000 in external costs over five years of working with Crest Nicholson.

She said that there were historic costs to the council and all parties involved in the project were aware of the risks.

A new cross-party project board will be formed and a new leisure centre for the west of the city remains a priority.