King Alfred….Crest news expected at PRG in December….probably

02.11.18…..In the wake of the 24th October deadline for Crest to commit to signing the Development Agreement by the end of the year, and their reply requesting more time, a few moves and details have emerged that can be passed on here.
Firstly, whilst saveHOVE was unable to get the Argus to do an article, complaining Tory cllrs were more successful.  See the error-strewn result in What the Papers Said.  The 24th was NOT a final deadline for signing anything. The comment trail is of more interest, including a couple of comments as Rob Starr weighed in to defend himself there.
See the King Alfred article on this blog giving chapter and verse as provided to saveHOVE by the council leader himself about the 24th deadline for a LETTER of COMMITMENT.
The cllrs did have one valid point to make, however.  Ward Cllr Andrew Wealls tweeted saveHOVE his frustration at being entirely out of the loop.  And this seems wrong; but if I can email the council leader and get facts I think cllrs could do so too.
And I did.  Cllr Yates informed me by email on the 25th that a meeting would take place on Friday, 26th October between Crest Nicholson and the council.  He further indicated that “if required I’ll make a further statement before that if the position changes or we need to be clearer sooner”. In tweet exchanges it was made clear that not even he was invited to attend.  It was expert officers on their own who met with Crest (and presumably Rob Starr too).
And the result of that meeting was….?
In a further, 29th October, email to saveHOVE Cllr Yates confirms that a report is “due” to go to Policy, Resources & Growth Committee on December 6th “and updates will be undertaken with wards cllrs, group leaders (Yates, Janio and MacCafferty) etc well before then”.  The PRG Agenda is normally published on the council website one week ahead of meetings, by noon on the Thursday.
It is a good idea to monitor the financial press for any news of Crest Nicholson’s financial position in the meantime.  As with the previous schemes from Karis and City Grove….financial viability within Crest as much as for the scheme itself has become questionable.

 

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Crest Nicholson fail to commit – seek delay for King Alfred Development Agreement

25.1.18…..At the end of yesterday I emailed Council leader Cllr DanYates and Rob Starr enquiring after the letter which BHCC required of Crest Nicholson committing to signing the Development Agreement by year’s end.  I have had no replies as I write at 2pm, but BHCC have now issued a Press Release:

Following formal confirmation of funding in September from the Housing Infrastructure Fund the council has been working with Crest Nicholson Regeneration to conclude the development agreement.

The council wrote to the developer earlier this month to ask them to confirm their commitment to the delivery of the King Alfred scheme. We have received a response from Crest that restates their commitment but which is seeking a little more time to further update their viability appraisals. The council continues to be in contact with them and we are expecting a more detailed response shortly.

 “In parallel with the developer’s ongoing viability review, the council will meet with them to agree options for progressing delivery of the scheme.  We remain committed to ensuring a scheme which delivers a new leisure centre and pool complex for Hove alongside a significant housing development

“We will provide an update on the project at the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee on 6 December.

Many thanks to Bex Bastable at the Brighton & Hove Independent who got this first and shared ahead of going to Crest and doing a wider report for the paper.  The free print edition comes out on Friday.  Available in Hove outside the Blatchington Road newsagent and at Hove Library.  Keep a lookout Friday for an online piece after contact is made with Crest.
Over the last couple of days, I have had email with David Jewell and David Ford about Crest Nicholson, looking at concerns about the company, now vulnerable to takeover bids.  Knowing what the financial press have had to say about them is important to any understanding of what the press release is telling us.  But viability issues around construction cost rises are a serious consideration and I refer you to the article I put here on King Alfred two days ago about my questions to two council meetings and email from Rob Starr.
David Jewell observed:  “I note the profit warning issued by Crest to the London Stock Exchange a few days ago and the fact that their Finance Director, appointed in 2017, has been “let go”. Crest state that they want to reduce their stake in aspirational housing, i.e. houses worth more than £800,000, and to invest less in their land bank as well as shift some of their stock of £600,000 houses via “block” sales.
Crest Nicholson issued a press release dated 17 October 2018  advising the London Stock Exchange and investors of the Company’s expected results prior to the end of its financial year on 31 October. With the slow-down in sales being experienced in the second half of the year, particularly in higher value “aspirational” housing, the Company expects profits to reduce to around £170-190 million in 2017/18 against £207 million the previous year. Margins are also expected to reduce to less than the 18% previously expected. As a result the company has come up with a new strategy including taking steps to maximise the value in its portfolio. In order to preserve the value embedded in its land and development pipeline, the Company is pausing its growth ambitions to align with current market conditions, slowing down build rates and reducing land expenditure. The Company believes that by maintaining current levels of output from its high-quality land pipeline, rather than driving for revenue growth, it will improve the level of free cash flow generated by the business. The Company states that it has made good progress in growing its sub-£600k homes by recycling capital from more challenging areas and higher prices. The Company’s Chief Financial Officer, appointed in 2017, will be leaving shortly.”
Chris Hawtree spotted this from The Telegraph on 22.10.18
David Ford sent me a link to an ominous piece from The Guardian
What I wonder now if this.  Are we looking at a revised upward cost for the scheme which the council will have to perhaps contribute more to?  Are we looking at a repeat of the Karis visits to P&R to increase the number of flats to make it more viable?  Or are we looking at Starr losing Crest and having to find someone else to deliver the housing part of the scheme?  Or abandonment of it all.
The two Davids speculate about a chess move from Crest….would signing be a poison pill to put off takeover bidders?  What move is most advantageous to Crest as they manoeuvre in choppy waters?
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The Sackville Estate redevelopment – aspirational plans/a tinker with new thinking

Moda intend to submit a planning application any time now, but no fine detail or nailed down solutions were available at the exhibition of plans in September.  Further to yesterday’s post, I detail info gleaned and noted down in my little book while there.  More detail of what to expect if an application is registered soonish.

Access and Egress are key issues to be resolved

One very nice potential increase in site access is drawn into the scheme in the form of a wide staircase from Sackville Road, located down towards the bridge area with walking through from there OR  (potentially, and ONLY potentially) a pedestrian bridge over the tracks, providing pedestrian access to Hove Station from Sackville Road.  Crucial in my view.  Crucial.  There is NO access/egress point from the site into or out of Newtown Road because buying people out to achieve it is either unavailable or unaffordable.  People there KNOW how much a space is needed by the Sackville Estate for a feasible redevelopment that isn’t going to be another dangerous one way in and out Marina situation.  Plans proceed in hopes that one day…..  In the meantime pedestrian access permeability is being sought on Sackville Road.

POTENTIAL ONLY pedestrian entry point from Sackville Road. At present it is this OR a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. Both are vitally needed infrastructure improvements to enable ANY scheme on this site to work.

The geology of the site is an issue.  The drop from Old Shoreham Road to the bridge is 7 metres.  The steep sides of the built-up estate land on the Sackville Road pavement side are a good 3-4 metres high so the set of stairs would need to be shallow and reach quite deep into the site to be reasonable.  So who will invest in one or, preferably both, of these infrastructure provisions?

Network Rail

It won’t be parsimonious Network Rail.  Indeed they charged Moda Living an absolute mountain of money just to have a first meeting to discuss the problem of finding a way to deal with the problem the railway lines have become, blocking north/south access and egress on foot or in vehicles.  Perhaps it is time the Government stepped in and helped the city with this one.  It is vital they do in fact.  This is the identified point that could be made to work.

POTENTIAL ONLY. Aspirational and would be this OR a Sackville Road stairway access up to the site. Not both, but both are vitally required

The railway came here in 1841 when it still had urban fringe/countryside to go over.  Now we are built right up to the Downs and the railway bi-sects the entire city in a way that needs to be specifically addressed as a specific infrastructure project.  Connecting the railway lines with an underground system is one solution that comes to mind (if we don’t end up under the sea again, as this area once WAS).
My wish to see a tertiary Hove Station outpost on Sackville Road with trackside facilities to walk past on the way to where the trains stop (or maybe inside the Sackville Estate where remnant rail lines remain in situ) is something Network Rail could  discuss with the city and Moda.  At present Moda are not looking at trackside access, but rather to put tall buildings along the entire trackside section over to a proposed parking strip abutting rail line ends, close by Fonthill Road.
There were 18 flats displaying vague drawings and concepts without fine detail.  Lots of PR level text.  Here are my rough notes from the visit…made as I looked at each one.
  1. Moda Living introduction/PR spiel
  2. Moda retirement introduction/PR spiel
  3. Intro to Hove Station Quarter  – site to be redeveloped consists of 3.59 ha or 8.8 acres
  1. Context, community
  2. Connectivity   – The  Council drawing of DA6 from City Plan pt 1, regrettably still showing trackside allocation of area for Waste Transfer.  This was bought by Coal Pensions and added to the Sackville Trading Estate holding, forcing removal of the designation by BHCC for eventual Waste Transfer use.
  1. Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum PR (Cttee of Fonthill area men, more like)
  2. Moda intentions   600-650 flats to rent, managed  by Moda Living.  If given planning consent, they will buy the site from Coal Pensions.  At the top end of the site, Mayfield will manage a 250-265 leasehold-bought semi-sheltered flats for the   elderly, with ground floor resources like hairdressers.  5,000 sq metres of employment space is also in the overall scheme.  There would be 20% car parking spaces of 280-300 plus 1,000 cycle parking spaces on site.  Affordable housing?  “…to be agreed”.
I asked what this scheme meant in terms of overall population level for the site.  “1200 to 1500” was the reply.
  1. Retirement flats. Mayfield want a care home that is not a care home or even fully sheltered.  The model is already in use in North America where people buy self-catering flats in village-like settings with options to use more help if needed and to have lots of facilities on site you do not have to travel to.  Older people’s need for chiropodists, hairdressers, etc would be met on site.
  2. Emerging design principles identify issues: Access/public space/Hove Station access.
 12/13.   Sustainability claims.
  1. Public realm ideas
  2. Drawings of the Sackville Road-facing frontages had Christopher Hawtree exclaiming that they looked like Furniture Village had been breeding! Uninspired and overbearing in scale opposite the Painters’ Corner Victoriana.  DO note the false scaling that makes multi-storeys blocks look smaller than 2-storey Victorian houses opposite.  Need a crying with laughter emoji here…

    Blocked out concept design of Sackville Road frontage proposal

  3. A look at an emerging Masterplan which BHCC appears to be lifting from the Forum’s six years worth of ponderings. HSNF may yet dump doing a Neighbourhood Plan and settle for influencing a council-led Masterplan.  Which would be fair and just but the public need to know It means a VAST amount of housing with THOUSANDS of new residents, people working there, impact on local amenity and streets use.
At this end of the exh. I met Mayfield’s Planning & Design Director, the really immensely charming Benedict Krauze.  If this scheme proceeds, and Moda buy the site, Mayfield would take a 125 year lease on the area it plans to put retirement housing on.

Heights    

At the exhibition, the highest buildings were trackside.  Up to 16 storeys, but at a Charette last Friday I heard this has been reduced to 11 – presumably after pre-planning advice.  The Charette was about planning strategy and the City Plan.

Updates

24.10.18….. Francine Grant emails me a few other details she picked up at the exhibition.  She gleaned from Mayfield that 250×2-bed retirement flats would cost £400,000 each (service charges extra).  She was further informed that the 600-650 rental units would be let at approximately £1,200 per calendar month on 3 year agreements, though which size of home that matches is not clear.  Francine looked up the company and writes “They’ve taken over Carillion projects in Manchester, etc, and were a small concern until they had an injection of millions from a German bank in 2016.  The only scheme that is just about happening is the one in Watford. There’s a Mayfield (retirement village) supposed to be planned in Romford, but information is a bit thin on thenet about anything”.
Charles Harrison emails useful comments too. “This rental home concept is the 7th location under development by Moda, with the first site, Angel Gardens – Manchester, accepting resservations from August 2018….no track record… as…nothing ready for occupation yet…to judge…this innovative “lifestyle” business model. He was, like me, concerned by the absence of architectural detail or any information about materials to be used.  Like I said….a lot like a PR exercise rather than a proper public consultation that would be listened to or result in any changes to the scheme.
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Moda will buy the Sackville Trading Estate if their plans achieve consent

22.10.18…..On 19/20 September, Moda Planning held a public exhibition of their longstanding plans for the Sackville Trading Estate – upstairs in the Honeycroft Nursery premises fronting Sackville Road, on the edge of the Clarendon & Ellen Estate.  I do wonder though how many people knew about it and what this exhibition looked to achieve.
It is now customary ahead of submitting applications to go through one of these “consultation” exercises and to add a document about it to the application submission.  This, however, felt more like a PR exercise for Moda Planning and Mayfield (putting a leaseholder occupied sheltered housing block at the northern end).
Whilst heights and shapes, access and egress were blocked out, there was a complete absence of architectural detail and, no, they are not going for outline consent, they will apply for full planning without offering architecture views to the public in any form of consultation first.
They have felt obliged to give space and influence instead to the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum Committee – which is without standing to do anything except put a Neighbourhood Plan to a public referendum which, if accepted, would sit beneath the City Plan as something to take into consideration and no more.  After six years…..nada.  Until this happens and it is publicly accepted by a public vote, they have no authority to speak for, or advise on behalf of, the public.  The Forum Committee has piggybacked every scheme being planned in DA6 over 6 years, looking for credibility from association and encouraging provision of many, many, MANY hundreds of units of housing for the DA6 part of the City Plan instead of the level of density the public would accept and silly heights.
To understand how brazenly they exceed authority, one needs only to look at the 1-3 Ellen Street Report to the Planning Committee and warning in it to councillors on the committee.  Mike Gibson actually had the gall to cheat/speak as a supporter for that scheme’s developers at Planning on behalf of the Forum when he only had the right to speak as an individual.  Here is the entry on printed pages 30/31 of the report
5.13   Neighbourhood Area
The site also lies within the Hove Station Neighbourhood Area.  It is recognisedthe applicant has engaged the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum in this proposal an approach that is encouraged and welcomed. Whilst initial draftdocuments have been prepared, no ‘formal’ pre-submissiondraft (page 30)
5.132    Neighbourhood Plan has been published to date. Little weight can therefore be given to the Hove Station 2nd draft Neighbourhood Plan which in general seeks to endorse the proposal. It is important to note that the local planning authority has raised concerns that some of the policies in the 2nd draft Neighbour Plan conflict with strategic policy, on this basis it does not therefore meet the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ basic conditions (continued on page 31)
Residents attending the Sackville exhibition will not have known ANY of this when noting the developer had given exhibition space to them as something like a development partner!  And that is just SO WRONG.

The Moda/Mayfield Scheme

South of the access road a HUGE amount of rental housing south of the existing access from Sackville Road – 600 units in lots of up to 11 storey high rises is planned with the highest blocks trackside, to be managed by Moda who would buy the site from Coal Pensions if they get planning.   One new pedestrian access point would be introduced just above the railway line area using a staircase.  North of the existing access road from Sackville Rd would be the sheltered housing block (units for sale only).  There is STILL no new vehicle egress point.  All vehicle traffic is still into/out of Sackville Road’s existing point.
There is however one new move of huge value and import.  But the developers had to PAY a huge sum of money to Network Rail just for a first meeting to discuss issues and possible solutions.  The money would be well spent if consent is achieved and money for the engineering of a pedestrian bridge OVER the tracks from the development site’s easternmost point close to Fonthill Road can be achieved.  It involves use of the remnant tracks into the Sackville site becoming a green walkway and walking through what is to become a parking lot area to get to it.  It is the ONLY thing I feel able  to celebrate at this point, apart from a potential wide pedestrian stairway down near the bridge up into the site.
This drawing does not show the current Conway Street occupants – it shows some idea of some possible future scheme in order to make their drawing look more attractive.
The scheme is just massive and high rises at trackside are inhumane and make of the tracks a canyon.  They will loom up and upset residents on Conway Street and in the courtyard housing behind it which is trackside dead opposite.  But note   the indicated stairway access into the site bottom left corner of this elevation drawing below.

 

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King Alfred: 24 October Deadline for Crest Nicholson to confirm DA signing

23.10.18…..By Wednesday, 24th October, Brighton & Hove City Council expects to have received confirmation from Crest Nicholson of its commitment to sign the Development Agreement by December.
On 19th July, at Full Council, I asked after the King Alfred redevelopment timetable.  This followed a look at the Major Projects update in the 21st June Tourism and Economic Development Committee Agenda showing a lack of progress.
But come October, publishing of the PRG agenda and there was…..nothing.  So, in went a further query for the 11th October Policy, Resources and Growth meeting.  Confirmation of HIF funding, which has to precede signings, came on 11th September, I was told, and BHCC has written to Crest Nicholson requiring that a Board level confirmation be provided by October 24th of commitment to now sign the Development Agreement by the end of the year to allow public consultation on plans at the beginning of 2019. So I emailed Rob Starr!  PQ’s, BHCC responses and email from Rob: details below.
Starr is unconcerned, and continues to work with BHCC and Crest Nicholson to push things along.
My July 19 Question to Full Council
“I thought we would have had the King Alfred redevelopment before PRG and Council before the summer break for Councillors and we don’t have a council meeting now until October. In lieu of that may I ask you please for a quick update today to give us an idea of what the hold-up is about?”
Cllr Dan Yates Response
“I agree with you I would have liked to have this up and running and making more progress than we currently have. As you will be aware, in September 2017, the Council, alongside Crest Nicholson, its preferred development partner, submitted a £15.2m bid to the then newly launched Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).  We were delighted by February’s announcement that the bid had been successful; the second largest marginal viability award in the country. Since that time we have been working with Homes England as part of their due diligence process and we hope to receive confirmation of the funding award and the contractual terms shortly, there lays the delay.
HIF funding is critical to the projects viability and the terms of the HIF funding will allow the Development Agreement (DA), something that is at an advanced stage, to be completed. We hope to be able to report to committee at the end of the summer.”
My Supplementary Question
“So by the end of the summer you have the HIF decision assigned, but I wonder about public consultation. Are there any dates in view as I know from Rob Star himself that he has already been up to London interviewing planning agents a couple of months ago now so by now there must be a date in the wind?”
 Cllr Dan Yates Response:
“The developer will begin the public consultation process as soon as the Development Agreement is concluded i.e. late summer/Autumn of this year and then hope the planning application will be submitted in the second half of 2019 and construction commence in the second half of 2020.”
 My Public Question to PRG on 11 October
“At the last Full Council meeting I enquired after the status of the King Alfred redevelopment and so was expecting this PRG meeting to carry a King Alfred item since I was given to understand formal public consultations would begin this autumn.  What further information on timings can you give us please?”
Cllr Dan Yates Response:
I have not had it provided by email yet to copy/paste, but you can view our exchange on the archived webcast (item 51 public involvement) providing the very useful detail I am able to pass on here.
Email with Rob Starr
I passed on the PQ info as well as concerns I had been hearing from a developer that the KA building costs were now understated by at least £50,000 sq m because of increases in construction costs generally which would require renegotiation or not signing the Development Agreement, seeking comment.
Rob Starr’s Reply
“The deadline is to sign the DA in December; which by default means we need to agree the final wording by end October.
As for viability, this scheme remains challenging and will probably see viability change throughout.  However everyone is committed, money is being spent, costs are constantly being reviewed (as they should be) and no one had suggested an increase in unit numbers or values.  As usual Chinese whispers which are wrong.
As for my position – same as always; I fight hard with BHCC & with Crest to get it across the line!
The deadline if December is fantastic as it means it has to now be done with no more delays.
By the way who is making up the stories about the changes to the scheme again! Utter nonsense.  The scheme being delivered is as per the bid won!”
Rob Starr’s further email
“To be clear for you – we have not amended the scheme we won the bid on.  It was always 565 flats, 20% affordable, a top of the range (at every level) Leisure centre and over 12000sqft of community space on the ground.  Also we committed to local trades on sight and to do everything we can to keep the sales local.  Nothing has changed on that at all.
Viability was always an issue on this development because it is very cash flow heavy (we have to build a leisure centre quickly and the entire site needs a basement) and of course the location.  None of it is a surprise.  Brexit of course was a surprise and the position of not knowing what will happen does make everyone nervous – people generally are waiting to see what will happen before they buy and sell properties as an example. So it is obvious that whilst building costs rise annually the values that come from them may (or may not) be affected by Brexit.  Fortunately a lot of this is simply confidence in the market and therefore once Brexit happens (in any form) confidence should rise and life should carry on.  Also fortunately this project timeline is such that we will start building around a year After the Brexit is a known thing and we would not be selling until 3-4 years after Brexit.  As such the timing for us has been very fortunate in that if we had been on site a year ago we would actually be facing a much harder viability situation than currently exists.  It would also be naïve to suggest that a project would not suffer viability issues; every project in every sense has to amend and update and change budgets; development is no different, and in fact I would suggest development is subject to more unknowns that most – as viability is known to be something that will always rear its head it is built into a plan to have the resilience to handle changes right from the beginning.  At the moment we (Crest & Starr Trust) are continually to invest time and money into this project with the view to be in DA end of this year and planning next year.”
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