Matsim have won their appeal against the Council’s July 2017 refusal of their Hove Gardens Project. At the end of January 2019, the government’s Planning Inspector approved the high density redevelopment of the former Furniture Village warehouse. The proposal is to provide 186 apartments, 1,300 sqm of offices and 230 sqm of shops. If the project does not get off the ground within three years the approval ceases to be valid.
From Fonthill Road east, a re-surfaced Conway Street will be landscaped, lined with shops and offices and ‘traffic calmed ‘ to make a pedestrian/cycle friendly walkway leading to the substantially improved steps up to Goldstone Villas.
The Forum supported Matsim at the appeal for the same reasons we supported the original application (link). Even though our emerging Neighbourhood Plan (NP) has a higher target of 40% ‘affordable’ units, our view was that for this unique project a significantly lower level is acceptable for several reasons:
This support for the views of the local community has convincingly demonstrated that a Neighbourhood Plan can influence the major decisions which affect our area. In approving the project the Inspector agreed with the Forum’s key arguments:
….being the first scheme to come forward I acknowledge that the proposed development could in effect kick-start this process of the wider regeneration of this area..’ and‘…would result in an improvement to the character and appearance of the area against the existing situation. I attach considerable weight and importance to these benefits’
The Planning Committee turned it down for one reason only – a deficit of 12 ‘affordable’ homes. The project provided only 35 ‘affordable’ housing units (19%) whereas their independent valuation expert told them that it could provide 47 (25%). They thought Matsim would soon revise the scheme to close this gap, rather than appeal. But Matsim made a ‘Plan B’: they secured planning approvals for 40,000 sqm offices and then appealed.
‘Plan B’ significantly increased the value of the site and therefore land costs, alongside increased construction costs. These increased costs were only partially offset by an increase in the estimated sales figures due to house price rises since July 2017.
Thus, the Inspector agreed with Matsim that the Hove Gardens project was now only viable with 19 affordable units – 10%. But he did impose a ‘review mechanism’ to ensure additional ‘affordable’ units will be provided if actual costs and sales produce a surplus.
At our AGM in Rallli Hall on February 28th 2019, we will launch the legally required six weeks consultation on our Regulation 14 Consultation Draft Plan.
To ensure that everyone living and working in the Neighbourhood Area has a final opportunity to comment on the draft Plan we will publish the latest full version on our website along with a short summary.
Paper copies of the summary will also be available at a series of public events in the period up to the school Easter holidays. The big event will be the eighth Have Your Say Day at St Barnabas Hall (Honeycroft) on Saturday March 23rd. We’re also running workshops on key NP issues, including Traffic & Parking, Housing & Developer Contributions; and our projects for each of the Community Hubs proposed in the Plan.
The Forum is now an important voice for the community. This influence will grow if you join in these events, bring a neighbour along and help increase Forum membership by getting family and friends to join, via our web-site at www.hovestationforum.co.uk.