11 December 2014

Student halls would take pressure off family homes

Planning permission has been granted for a new student hall of residence in Brighton which councillors say will help take pressure off family homes.

The decision came in this week’s meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning committee (December 10 2014)

A group of redundant small business and industrial premises off Hollingdean Road and Freehold Terrace would be demolished to make way for the development. 

The new accommodation, around the corner from Lewes Road Sainsbury’s, would range from three to six storeys and house 205 students.  It would feature a green roof and solar panels generating electricity. 

Alongside would be eight units of affordable housing in a four-storey building.  All would be for rent from a housing association.

Number 52 Hollindean Road, a former shop premises with a flat above, would be demolished to make way for a management suite for the halls.

Under council policy the authority intends to have an agreement with the developer that the halls should be for the sole use of University of Brighton students.

The council prefers students living in purpose-built accommodation rather than shared houses, because they make it easier to manage issues like noise and anti-social behaviour.

Applicants have agreed to provide professional 24-hour security on site, to be agreed in a management plan which would form part of the planning consent.

A planning officer’s report agrees with the applicant’s view that the current commercial premises are beyond repair. 

They cannot be occupied economically, or the site easily redeveloped for business, because of issues like poor access, small size and the awkward shape of the site. Redevelopment would help the printing company on the site meet its plans to move to modern premises at Woodingdean Industrial Estate, protecting 22 jobs.

On parking, the planning officer’s report said car ownership among students was low, public transport nearby was good, and many university buildings are within walking distance.

As part of its planning consent the developers are required to pay £13,500 for local employment schemes, £30,000 for art and over £266,000 for improving sport and recreation..  A further contribution of £139,000 for sustainable transport would be used for better on-street parking provision for residents and disabled people, road safety measures plus a new bus stop in Hollingdean Road with a real-time arrivals sign.

Chair of the planning committee Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty said later: 

“While I understand the anxiety that some from the community have about the new student halls, the committee were satisfied that the tight management of the halls will ensure neighbours are not disturbed. In any case, halls of residence are preferable to students occupying local homes which the city desperately needs. 

“That need has been given a small but important boost with eight more affordable homes with social rent for local people, which is part of the scheme and obviously really welcome.

“Provision for the universities given their important place in the city’s culture and economy needs to be done but it needs to be done in the right places and without harming our neighbourhoods - and the Lewes Road corridor has already been identified as a suitable location.”

The site, near the Hollindean Road railway bridge