Just a 15 minute walk from West Hill, the listed park with its rose garden and amenities for adults, children and families, is under threat from tower blocks. Developers have tried for years to build high rise towers nearby with expensive penthouse flats offering views of the park to those who can afford them, with scant regard for the effects of overshadowing. A 2003 scheme to build a 16 storey tower on the former Endeavour garage site south of the park, dubbed “Endeavourerst”, was rejected and a scheme with 15 storeys, on the Anston House site, was also refused in 2013.
The current Anston House proposal includes three towers of up to 15 storeys once again. This would be almost twice the height of the adjacent Telecom House and the towers would be visible above the trees for miles around, including from West Hill. The developers, First Base, are sparing no expense in promoting their scheme. Agents are calling door-to-door, even in this area, handing out leaflets encouraging residents to write to councillors in support of their project whilst bizarre “partnerships” have been formed with local organisations ranging from the Friends of Brighton Pavilion Café to the Brighton and Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere. The developers are also funding 3 design students from Brighton University to work on an elm tree project. Perhaps an elm tree can be found which grows to 300 feet and can screen the three towers, which one objector has described as “concrete cereal packets”.
The developer’s website reveals that its head of design wants London boroughs to “stop producing their own design guidance”. Leave it all to him then, and so much for localism and our City Plan which aims to “ensure design excellence which responds positively to the distinctive character of the city’s different neighbourhoods”. Further concern for Brighton & Hove planners and residents is his recommendation that there should be more investment in “innovative construction techniques to help increase supply through off-site manufacture to help overcome labour shortages and speed up construction”.
This seems to suggest a way of employing fewer local construction workers when the parts for a building can be shipped in from elsewhere. The problem is not, in any case, speeding up the process of construction, but getting developers to stop hoarding land and to stop wasting everyone’s time with greedy and unacceptable planning applications. The Anston House site has been derelict for thirty years and could provide the same number of homes proposed by First Base at a height which would not harm the setting of the park, as has been demonstrated by the Brighton Society.
Objections to this Anston House planning application can be submitted until 10 October via the City Council website, the application number is BH2016/02499.
There’s also a link to a petition to the Council Planning Officer on West Hill Hall’s Facebook page – facebook.com/westhillhall