Office plans approved for derelict Brighton site

Councillors have approved plans to build a four-storey office block on a derelict site in the centre of Brighton.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 11:33 am
A CGI of the plans for the office block

The site – on the corner of Church Street and Portland Street – has been empty for 25 years and two earlier sets of plans have already been granted permission.

But Green councillor Lizzie Deane objected on behalf of people living in the North Laine community when the scheme went before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee yesterday (Wednesday 7 July).

She said: “This is an overbearing building that constitutes overdevelopment. It does nothing to alleviate the housing crisis. It misses an opportunity to add to the city’s biodiversity.

The site as it stands now

Councillor Deane said that the pavement along Church Street was too narrow for the footfall in front of the building.

Planning consultant Paul Burgess said that the site had been derelict since the 1990s and was earmarked for development in the council’s strategic blueprint, known as the City Plan.

Mr Burgess said that there was a shortage of “grade A” modern office spaces in Brighton and Hove. And the proposed building would provide flexible floor space for growing local businesses or could attract larger regional companies.

He said: “This modern building provides a contemporary addition in the North Laine while respecting the former Drill Hall and other listed buildings in the area.

“The glazed reception area will also introduce visual interest at street level where graffiti hoardings exist at the moment.”

The scheme includes two “green walls” and a “green roof” which would be covered with some form of vegetation.

The developer, SM Brighton, said in its planning application to the council that the building, which would have 3,560 square metres of office floorspace, could provide up to 350 jobs.

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said: “There is a shortage of office space. I’m really sorry housing couldn’t have gone in there but we do need that place cleaned up and made to look respectable after so many years.”

Labour councillor Daniel Yates said that it was worrying to hear residents’ concerns about the scale of the proposed building and the lack of housing as part of a mix.

But he added: “(It) is a relatively nice piece of design that does appear to understand the environment it is operating in, even if it is different to the rest of the developments around it.”

Green councillor Marianna Ebel said: “It is currently an eyesore and has been vacant for too long. It is a prime location. We need high-quality office space. And it has excellent transport links.”

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the plans subject to conditions.

The developer has been asked to widen the pavement along Church Street, provide two on-street disabled parking bays in Spring Gardens, devise a five-year travel plan and pay £36,250 towards the “Local Employment Scheme”.