King Alfred. Rumours; questions; with answers from the Horse’s Mouth

01.01.2017…..A tantalising comment appeared in one of Tim Ridgway’s weekly Argus columns which hinted at a Crest Nicholson attempt to get numbers of flats increased at the expense of Starr Trust community space.  That told me a Karis, Mark 2, situation was brewing…..
I rang Tim for a chat.
Developers were gossiping and he’d been listening. ‘Crest underquoted to get the gig’.  ‘Crest are now moving on the Starr Trust to concede space to more housing’.  ‘Crest are trying to edge the Starr Trust out of the deal with BHCC and take it all’.  Those are the rumours.  My mother would call the Crest aggression ‘dirty pool’.  If they would do it to the partner that GOT them the gig, they would do it to the Council and the public is my view.
The concession has already been made down to some bookable community rooms, including the 300-seater which could take film clubs, intimate performances – not what was originally hoped for (rehearsal studios and a major performance venue plus a Starr Trust base).  And on the esplanade side there is only a miserable little coffee shop space with two mean little tables outside for beach visitors and esplanade walkers (in the drawings).  In other words, not enough for the public inconvenience of all that proposed housing plus leisure centre, which will swamp the Kings Esplanade beach colony and create road use havoc.
The huge bookable Hove Town Hall venue which hosted entertainments and events. is no more…and needs replacement somewhere else IN HOVE.  Where, if not here? At King Alfred itself, we are losing the sprung dance-floored ballroom which is ALSO a popular weddings venue; so that flexible use, 300 seater of Starr’s is non-negotiable in my books.
Ahead of Hanukkah and Christmas, I emailed Rob Starr.
“Not hearing good things about Crest Nicholson and KA, Rob.  And it starts to look like Karis all over again with your dream treated as expendable.  Are you being bullied by Crest Nicholson?”, I askedHe got back to me saying “this is not and will never be another Karis”.  He confirmed that, as agreed, “it is still including 20% affordable…it is still delivering the Community spaces I had in from day 1….and the increases in residential are actually very low in numbers.  The Development Agreement is being drawn now by solicitors from both sides and will be signed in the new year as agreed.  In fact a letter of reasssurance went to BHCC just this morning from the Board of Crest confirming all this….” 
I appreciated his reply but wanted to say more and learn more.  So I went back to him, referred to the lost Hove Town Hall venue that needs replacing in Hove and said his 300 seater was required as minimum.  I told him “I don’t want just a dormitory there with a leisure centre” and said the proposed “coffee shop onto the esplanade is far too small” and that I feel it is only right he “gets a Starr Trust base out of this too.  How many units of housing now?” 
He was straight with me.   He confirmed the large 300 seater and other community rooms STAY in the plan. “Flats will be about an additional 80; over the whole site it’s a small number”.  I disagree.  But I don’t forget that the Karis monster got planning consent for over 750 flats.  Click on King Alfred in the tag cloud for related King Alfred articles and on for some details about the proposal I got from a meeting with Rob Starr some while back about what is planned.  And add “about 80” to 580….. 
If we do not want another Karis (Crest Nicholson bullying, with cooperation from a desperate-for-housing-numbers Brighton & Hove City Council Labour Administration complicit), which saw a few visits to the P&R committee to get ever increasing numbers of flats agreed (on financial viability grounds), a degree of support for the Starr Trust is going to be needed from the public.  But how much?  And concerning what details?  The entire scheme is seriously overwhelming.  But a precedent decision to agree 750 flats (Karis) is THERE.  Unfortunately, so is the District Valuer’s assessment of that Karis scheme as “borderline unviable”.   This time BHCC is putting some money into the scheme too, so the public is owed a much greater say in what is going to happen.

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