Major housing scheme sent back to the drawing board

On 22 December 2021, a Government Planning Inspector upheld the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for RKO Developments to build 94 new flats at the junction of Palmeira Avenue and Cromwell Road.

The application had initially been refused by the council’s Planning Committee because of concerns over harm to the character of the area and to neighbours, and for its lack of affordable housing.

Appeal dismissed

The developer’s appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspector following a virtual hearing attended by councillors and local residents.

In the appeal decision, the Inspector noted the ‘very intensive’ form of the development, and the resulting harm it would cause to the character and appearance of the area, noting the increased emphasis the National Planning Policy Framework puts on the need for good design, and on the local design policies; particularly the Urban Design Framework.

High-quality, attractive, sustainable buildings for local people

Chair of the Planning Committee, Green Party councillor Leo Littman said: “The Planning Committee represents the people of the city in deciding how our built environment should evolve. We hold the needs of the city paramount, and listen to local people when determining planning applications.

“We welcome applications which would help address the city’s acute shortage of all types of housing, and will continue to work with developers to ensure appropriate housing schemes with affordable homes continue to be built here. 

"However, the Inspector’s support for our committee’s decision to refuse this application, should leave developers in no doubt, we will continue to refuse permission for schemes that do not deliver high-quality, attractive, sustainable buildings in which local people can live and work.”

Councillor Nick Childs, Labour spokesperson on the Planning Committee said: “A major concern was that the scheme didn’t provide anywhere near the 40% policy target we have set for major new developments to provide affordable housing. Meeting this target is crucial if we are going to solve the housing crisis that exists in Brighton and Hove.”

People before profit

Councillor Carol Theobald, Conservative spokesperson on the Planning Committee who gave evidence to the hearing said: “The Inspector’s decision shows that central government is serious about supporting local planning committees that reject planning applications to demolish character properties and replace them with large nondescript blocks of flats”.  

Councillor Bridget Fishleigh, Independent councillor for Rottingdean Coastal Ward, who also gave evidence to the hearing said: "I have been on the planning committee since 2019. We take our responsibilities very seriously and when we refuse tower blocks or go against the recommendations of planning officers we are very careful and considered in our reasoning.

“This is the second time in recent months that an inspector has agreed with the planning committee’s decision to refuse a large application; the first being the residential tower blocks proposed for Brighton Marina.

“I hope that developers are listening and will bring forward applications that meet the needs of our city rather than focusing on their bottom line”.

The Planning Committee

The Planning Committee approved applications to create more than 1,600 new homes across the city in 2020-21. These schemes will also see developers contribute over £7.6M to provide new and improved infrastructure in the city to mitigate extra demand from new residents moving into these homes.

In March 2021 there were outstanding permissions for developers to build over 5,000 homes

More information about planning permission for developers is in the Planning Authority Monitoring Report (AMR).

Related news