A developer called Synergy is proposing a huge new development in Hove between Kingsway and the Aldrington Basin section of Shoreham harbour just west of the Gather Inn.
Briefly, a mixed use development is proposed which includes 172 flats, offices, restaurant, café and visitor centre and an open space with a plinth for local artists to showcase their sculptures. It will be interesting to see if Hove Civic Society lodges an objection to the proposal.
It is claimed “the proposal wiil offer the opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy enhanced sea views and uninterrupted views to the east and the west across the harbour.”
But not if you are one of the many more people walking or driving along Kingsway, or are unfortunate enough to live in the houses just north of the site on Kingsway and streets off. The image below shows what you’ll see. Not many uninterrupted enhanced sea views there. The sea is out of sight somewhere on the left if you’re wondering.
An initial public consultation has taken place. It took the form of a tick box questionnaire. Typical questions were:
– Do you like the appearance and form of the revised development proposed?
– Do you support the need for providing more homes in this part of the city?
– Do you support the need for providing new office and other commercial units in this location that will create new jobs for the city?
– The majority of the revised scheme is ground floor plus six storeys in height rising to ten storeys. (Editorial note – ground + 10 = 11) Do you agree that taller elements of the scheme above six storeys are acceptable?
– Do you agree that new facilities such as a gym, roof top restaurant and café will benefit the area?
– Overall, do you support the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the site?
Pretty loaded questions – how they expect to get a fair response based on questions like that is anybody’s guess. That isn’t a proper public consultation.
Fortunately there was a little box at the end for additional comments, which we hope the vast majority of consultees used to convey their real views on the proposals.
Knowing that local councillors Garry Peltzer-Dunn and Robert Nemeth have been shown the results of this public consultation as well as the local residents group Kingsway and West Hove Residents Association (KAWHRA), we made enquiries to see if we also could view them. But the developer has refused to issue them to us. They may not be made public until the planning application is made. That’s too late.
So much for their attitude to transparency – but it does make you wonder what they are trying to hide.
Back to the consultation….
The Brighton Society inserted our response in the box provided as follows:
Our response to this development proposal has been conditioned by our previous responses to the Shoreham Harbour Joint Action Plan (JAAP) consultations between 2013 to 2017.
In principle we support the north side of Aldrington Basin being used for new housing; it is an ideal site, being elevated above the water’s edge with its spectacular views over the harbour.
In planning terms the approach to a new development on this site has to be governed by three crucial factors.
The first is the relationship of the A259 road with the harbour.
We regard it as crucial that views of the harbour from the road and footpaths are preserved at frequent regular intervals between any new buildings along Kingsway, That applies not only to this site, but also to areas further to the west where there are points along the A259 where there are stunning views over the harbour.
This planning context implies a design which consists of a series of separate buildings with gaps between, which will create a visually permeable frontage.
These proposals do the opposite – they create a massive wall between the public domain and the harbour. The one gap in this wall is totally inadequate as a response to the need for a permeable frontage – though it does illustrate that the problem has at least been recognised.
The second factor is the relationship with the mainly two-storey residential areas immediately to the north of the A259.
A new development on this site must respect the character and scale of the neighbourhood .
These massively aggressive buildings do precisely the opposite.
In visual terms they dominate the areas to the north, in terms of amenity they overshadow it, their sheer height blocks sunlight from the houses opposite – as well as the roadway and the public pavements; they block existing views to the south, they create an unacceptably high barrier between the harbour and the existing neighbourhood. The local residents have every right to be extremely concerned.
The third factor is precedent
If this proposal is ever given planning approval it will set a disastrous precedent for future developments along Kingsway, inevitably leading to a continuous wall of buildings of ten storeys or more along the whole west Hove seafront and harbourfront areas.
This ghastly prospect has to be stopped now to prevent future exploitation of that potential precedent.
KAWHRA say that they have received a considerable amount of feedback from their local residents, much of it couched in strong terms. Some potential benefits are identified but the thrust of the feedback overwhelmingly, is that the proposal as it stands is extremely unsatisfactory. The main issues are the height (which is seen as grossly excessive), the design (regarded as unattractive and incompatible) and the overall bulkiness. There is also the issue of the serious overshadowing of the houses opposite for a large part of the year and the adequacy of parking and local public services.
Here are their detailed questions to the developer to which they are awaiting responses:
1. The overshadowing/daylight issue is of major concern for residents. The facts about the height limitations on any buildings on this site are known as a result of the refused PZ1, the approved PZ2 and the two BRE reports about this site – so why are the developers proposing buildings clearly so grossly in excess when it is easily demonstrable that they would seriously damage some residents’ living conditions for the majority of the year?
2. Why are the developers proposing buildings of this bulk and mass in the context of this part of Kingsway when a line of five storey buildings was the reason for refusal of PZ1? How is this expected to fit into the low rise surroundings north of Kingsway?
3.How do the developers justify such extensive overlooking of so many existing homes and gardens?
4. How do the developers justify such a big increase in traffic on roads with such limited capacity and footpaths for pedestrians as Basin Road North, Wharf Road and the junctions with Kingsway?
5. Why do they propose such a major reduction in the amount and number of open space gaps between buildings on Kingsway previously approved?
6. What is the expected amount of overflow parking and where is it expected to go?
7. Are the same restrictions proposed on opening hours for the business and restaurant premises as those in the approved application? 8. What changes are proposed as a result of the comments received etc in your online survey and in the feedback from KAWHRA residents that was relayed to you?
That there is considerable opposition to this proposal is unquestionable.
Will our City Planners during the pre-application discussions with the developer dig in their heels and say it’s time for a re-think, or will they meekly scrabble around to find enough reasons to justify the unjustifiable?
We shall see.
It’s time for our city councillors and officers to act and insist on a complete re-design before any further time is wasted on preparing a detailed planning application.