From The Argus –
Three high-rise developments bringing almost 300 new homes and 10,000 sqm of business space have been given the go-ahead despite concerns they will change the very nature of Brighton and Hove.
Projects to redevelop Anston House, a vacant lot in Blackman Street and a former petrol station in Kingsway, Hove, estimated to be worth around £100 million were given planning permission at the city council’s planning committee on the 14th December.
Residents claim the approved plans will set a precedent for much higher buildings – turning Brighton and Hove into “a city of concrete blocks” like Croydon.
Furious campaigners were also critical that the two housing projects fell well below the council’s requirement for 40 per cent affordable housing and warned it was setting “a very low bar” for developers.
Labour councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle said the council needed to be less “lily-livered” on affordable housing and council policies should be beefed.
The approved schemes will bring back into use three sites that have stood vacant for more than half a century between them.
Councillors were unanimous in their praising of office plans for the vacant lot in Blackman Street which had been a desolate “eyesore” for more than 20 years.
The seven-storey block will bring “desperately needed” grade A office space to the city and potentially support 680 jobs.
A nine-storey block of 55 flats and the redevelopment of the historic Alibi pub in Hove have also been granted consent with just twelve affordable homes.
Save Hove campaigner Valerie Paynter described the old Texaco petrol station project as “a cacophonous pile of boxes” while Conservative Carol Theobald said the building was “ugly”, “too high” and looked like a Lego building.
Anston House sparked the most heated debate during a long planning session with ward councillor Kevin Allen and said the “grotesquely high” towers would be a “Manhattanisation” of the city.
Green councillor Leo Littman warned councillors not to allow “desperation” to cloud their judgement on the decision.
In backing the scheme, Councillor Phelim MacCafferty said it would create a “visionary welcome to the city” while Conservative Lynda Hyde warned that asking for too much from developers would stop them bringing forward schemes.
Resident William Shaw, who spoke against the Anston House redevelopment, said councillors “had nowhere left to go” under pressure to meet housing requirements and meet national housing policy.
He said: “People will be very shocked what is going up in the middle of Brighton.
“For better or worse, this will set a precedent for what Brighton becomes and we don’t want Brighton to become Croydon.”