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Sackville Trading Estate – second time around

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again (William Edward Hickson)

Spot the difference – yes, the buildings have got even bigger!

This first part of this article is written very much tongue in cheek – to avoid having to bite my tongue off!  But the issues are really very serious.

If your planning application gets refused, don’t worry. Just make a few minor changes and put it back in again. Sooner or later our nice councillors and their even nicer planning officers who you’ve got to know well enough by now to use their Christian names, will bend under the pressure and wave it through with (if you’re really lucky), a smile – of relief!

Another brick in the wall in the Council’s desperate attempt to meet the government housing targets! Well actually, quite a lot of bricks in this case. Millions of them!

And quite a lot of new housing units for rent too. 564 this time – a really significant reduction from the 591 in the first application. We wonder what the rental costs would be this time. Last time round Councillor Daniel Yates, innocently asking what the rental costs would be, inadvertently discovered that the developer’s version of ‘affordability’ was based on three people per bed! That was probably the turning point which led to the application being refused. But it wasn’t listed as one of the grounds for refusal. Pity.

I can’t seem to find in the 247-odd documents relating to this current planning application, whether the rental costs have been changed……. But of course it wasn’t in the previous application either. Silly me.

But there are now 10% (25 out of 268) more two bedroom units than there were before, and 9 more 3 bedroom flats than before. Well that’s a impressive improvement – but only to the mix. It hasn’t reduced the size of the massive buildings one bit. Wonder where the gardens and private open spaces for all those larger family-sized units will be?

There are now less studio flats than before.  They are now only 9% of the total number of dwellings – down from 19% before (ie 52 reduced from 114).  A studio flat by the way is developer-speak for a bedsit. So that’s a pretty significant improvement. You could almost call it a game-changer. I’m sure it must result in approval this time around.

The number of care community spaces remains the same as before at 260. That’s in addition to the 564 units mentioned above – so the total number of new housing units is in fact 824 – compared to 851 before. Not such a big reduction as Moda try to make out.

And….and…there are now more flats with balconies – up to a third of them now. I can’t find what proportion applied before, but if it’s now only a third it can’t have been many. Big deal. With all the recent talk of raising housing standards, I thought all flats had to have some provision for private open space, but I must be wrong about that. It looks as though some of the open space or balconies are shared too, so ‘private’ must mean something else in developer-speak. I think it must mean that they are ‘private’ only in the sense that they are primarily for the use of residents rather than accessible by the general public.

There’s also more office floor space – up from 5164 sq.m from 4471. Wonder where all the extra office workers are going to park? Come to think of it, where were all the office workers in the previous application going to park?

There’ll be lots more new jobs too. Over 550 now and over 80 (81?) new apprenticeships. Well, that will attract a few more construction workers from overseas or somewhere, which will just increase the housing problems we’ve got already.

I wonder where they’ll all live? Perhaps in those huge blots on the seascape at the Marina – most of which have been bought by investors from overseas – but as a lot of them are vacant maybe they could be rented out to construction workers. That’s called thinking outside the box. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad message to send to the designers of this massive conglomeration of multi-storey boxes.

But the best improvement they have left to last – the reconfigured extra care homes have had their daylighting levels optimised! Apparently they now meet or exceed the BRE guidance. When I was working as an architect, the BRE daylighting levels were regarded as a joke. And they still are.

So with all these really major improvements it looks as though it should be a shoe-in this time. No problem.

Oh, just a minute – I forgot to mention the most important reason the previous application was refused – its effect on the conservation areas and Heritage of Hove. This was the first of the four grounds for the previous refusal. Of course the other three have been resolved by all the major improvements listed above. Ha Ha.

Here is point one of the four reasons for refusal of the earlier scheme:

“The development by reason of its excessive height, scale, massing and design would have a detrimental impact on the undesignated and designated heritage assets in the area including the setting of the listed Hove Station and the Hove Station Conservation Area. The proposal is contrary to policies CP15 of the B&H City Plan and…three other policies da da da….

But (tongue still firmly in cheek if you’re still with me), this is really a very small price to pay if we can get a few more 2 or 3 bedroom flats, or a few more balconies. You could almost say it’s an absolute bargain.

It’s obvious to anyone that all these really significant changes will make such an enormous difference to the quality and attractiveness of the proposal only a fool could turn it down now.

But the fools will be those who approve it.

The importance of our heritage assets in this city cannot be underestimated. We have strongly emphasised this in our two previous objections to the earlier proposals for this site lodged earlier this year. Our objection was quoted in full in the Planning Officer’s report to the Planning Committee – which conceivably, (but probably didn’t), might have had some effect on the councillors’ decision.

So it’s important that our previous objections are re-iterated.  To be clear – we are not against development of this site per se.  In the past we have consistently argued for low-rise high density developments on sensitive city sites.  And we could support something along those lines here. But we are against such an overpowering, domineering form of development which will have such a detrimental effect on the character of Hove and the wider city.

And we are not the only ones who oppose this huge development. Local residents in the Sackville Road area are up in arms against it. The Conservation Advisory Group are against it too.  At its recent meeting it made the following recommendation:

The Group recommends REFUSAL

• We have discussed in particular the Montagu Evans letter to Iceni dated 19 Nov 2019, and strongly disagree with the conclusions reached in that letter that the three heritage assets it examines (Hove Station, the Hove Station CA and the Dubarry building) will not be significantly affected by the proposed development.

• Additionally it fails to mention the concern we have about its effect on the locally listed Hove Park, but more importantly it completely fails to acknowledge the sheer difference in scale and massing of this development (comprising a conglomeration of 13 or so massive buildings mostly between 10-15 storeys), in relation to the surrounding domestically scaled neighbourhoods which include two conservation areas.

• It will drastically change the character of the whole area within which the heritage assets mentioned above are located, and will have a severely detrimental effect on them.

• In no way could it be said these huge buildings towering over the Hove Station area will preserve let alone enhance those heritage assets.

That says it all.

The massive differences in scale between this conglomeration of tall buildings will completely change the character of Hove into something more like Croydon.

Croydon-on-Sea

Its enormous scale and height, bulk and massing will not only completely overpower the Hove Station Conservation Area, but also have a detrimental effect on the wider environment including views from the locally listed Hove Park (shown in our headline image), and other views of Hove from the wider city area and from the South Downs National Park.


elevation from the south

It is really important we lodge as many objections as we can to such massive buildings which are completely alien to the existing character of our city.

Please lend your voice to the many objections which are being lodged against this application.

Details of the planning application can be found on the Council website: Planning Ref. BH2019/03548

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