King Alfred: Council secrecy plan blown to smithereens (ish)

21.1.16…..At the start of Policy & Resources this aft, the Chair, Cllr Warren Morgan, announced that the King Alfred item, last on the Agenda, would be taken first after petitions.  A brief presentation by officer, Nick Hibberd, was followed by just one councillor wanting to ask a question in the public part of the meeting dealing with item 110 – King Alfred.  Cllr Phelim MacCafferty wanted to know what would happen to the redevelopment given the growing crisis in world financial markets and the likelihood of another global financial problem.  He was smoothly reassured.  He also expressed concern, as a Hove councillor, that there would be no leisure centre facilities for fully 3 years and an officer just referred to making other centres available for blah, blah…same as for the Karis era proposals I reckon.
And then we were all turfed out for the Part 2 session which lasted for over an hour.  I had noticed that reporter Frank le Duc was looking oddly glazed over, tense, not himself.  I even asked if he was OK.  He seemed to be only half there.  Well I wasn’t wrong!!
When we all went back inside and sat down to hear that a press release would go out Friday and a letter to the developers, we all then settled into a return to other agenda items.  Then I thought to look at the Brighton & Hove News site, just for drill and wallop.  Neil Vowles from the Argus did the same.  Frank was by now, no longer in the chamber…..  As one, Neil and I bolted out of the room because this is what we saw!
No wonder, I said to Frank.  He’d taken a risk, gone out on a limb and had to “get it right“.  You can read some of the detail of what the Starr/Crest Nicholson bid has proposed in his article.  It is my understanding that the 18 storey bit is in the far southwest corner and that the scheme slopes down from there to minimise overshadowing of the adjacent areas.  I also understand that the internal leisure centre spaces are very flexible and that there is a sprung dance floor among whatever else is in their proposal.  Now it begins. Indeed, as Item 110 was introduced, Cllr Gill Mitchell – who was part of that ill-fated Labour Administration back in the 2004-7 Karis period – rather emotionally – felt the need to recognise this as being a milestone moment of note.  Cllrs Theobald and MacCafferty echoed her sentiment.
It is a collossus on a tall building node that has precedent consent for 26 storeys and 751 flats.  That is the backdrop against which we have to consider and judge this time.  There will be a 10 day period of nothing now (maybe!) and then let’s see what happens and where we go from here.  However much a massive development is not wanted on that site, it is hard not to be pleased that it was the eminently worthwhile Starr Trust charity that got the gig….with Crest Nicholson, of course (!)
Will we get a development that residents can live with?  One that does not wreck the seafront?  Will horrendous transport issues we resolveable?  None of us wants a repeat of the nightmare Karis/Gehry years.  And the council doesn’t want a repeat of that either.  Time will tell….as they say.

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Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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