Crest Nicholson propose 150 plus flats – Lyon Close nr Wickes

Thursday, 24th August saw Crest Nicholson host a day of meetings to seek preliminary feedback about their plans to redevelop land at Lyon Close in Hove, to provide over 150 flats.  Since being chosen for King Alfred they have been having a nose around Hove and begun to look to develop in the city – not having done so before.  They have just had Mile Oak refused…..  Now comes this one!
The Lyon Close site is very private, tucked away behind Davigdor Road’s Montefiore Hospital and Hyde Housing’s offices-consented-for-redevelopment site.  Lyon Close is part of the Peacock Industrial Estate east of Wickes and the new carpet shop that recently replaced Staples on Davigdor Road. South of the site are the Hyde Housing offices, due for redevelopment into flats and the Montefiore orthopaedic hospital, each fronting Davigdor Road.

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Those of us invited to come along, including ward cllr Jackie O’Quinn, were taken through their thinking to date, shown one layout design which the Design Review Panel did not like and a revised option.  They have had one session of pre-planning advice with BHCC planning officers and will shortly have another with intention to submit a planning application just before Christmas.  Cllr O’Quinn arrived while I was there and so I record some of her feedback to Crest Nicholson & Saville representatives (doing the application), along with my own.
Cllr O’Quinn knows the issues and constraints of dealing with Railtrack who have an Easement over this site and she is very familiar with all the battles residents have had over tree and vegetation clearances along the railway Cut in this area.  How the railway edge of this site is to be handled was much discussed, both by her and myself, with the Crest, Saville, PR team hosting this pre-design consultation meeting.
Their first layout proposal was for 4x6storey, flat roofed blocks with low-rise between them.  The Design Review Team had been negative about this, suggesting staggered heights of buildings.  Regrettably  that Panel also had uninformed suggestions of creating a sense of community here.  Both Cllr O’Quinn and myself disabused them of THAT notion being valid.  Blocks of flats do not do that.  In fact, in my experience of living in one, a heightened requirement for personal privacy dominates in a very self-protective way.
So, in response to the Design Review Panel’s feedback, the new layout of several buildings has staggered heights, including one 7 storey and one 9 storey.  It was one of only two times I reacted with an adamant “NO!”.  Whilst I quoted the Tall Building Policy (which the Saville’s rep thought negotiable & allowable!!!!), Cllr O’Quinn warned about the vociferous response to height that they could expect from the well-heeled in big houses on the opposite side of the railway Cut and surrounding streets who would go mad.  We both drew the line at 6 storeys MAX!
The revised layout had these staggered buildings but one long one right along the railway line border.  No prizes for guessing that THIS would be the affordable housing element – proposed to be a full 40% for this scheme.  Bang on top of the noise of railway traffic.  It’s not on. It’s cruelty housing and I said so.  The Crest representative defence of it was a worry.  It was my second adamant “NO!”
The debate about how to site the housing element of the scheme and whether or how much landscaping can go along the trackside area is absolutely central to how this is going to work or fail.  I suggested  that before any scheme is designed even, they need to sit down with Railtrack and work out what will and will not be cooperatively agreed by them.
Both Cllr O’Quinn and myself banged the gong for extensive greening of this site.  Cllr O’Quinn said that part of Hove was in need of more greening (thinking no doubt of the other side of the railway cut) and it would help to camouflage the buildings which people would not want to look at.  I pleaded for noise buffering tall plantings along the boundary with the Railtrack bit – evergreen and shallow-rooting perhaps, to avoid the “leaves on the line” or embankment roots and shoots issue that would get Railtrack objecting to the scheme.  Whilst it is no longer a railway siding, they RETAIN Easement rights over how the entire site is used!!!  So, really, NOTHING can go there until, and unless, they deign to give Crest some time and cooperation.  Which so far, they have not.
Noise buffering with plantings is how the length of our railway lines have been treated everywhere and there HAS to be a way to make this site less noisy when trains roar past at night and at dawn. And just triple glazing with heavy duty glass will not be a way to deal with the noise.  When trickle vents are open, noise roars through the ones where I live.  And in summer, windows need to be openable.
Within the paperwork brought to the meeting was a fabulous old photo of the site from its railway siding days.  The Sackville Trading Estate was also a railway siding and goods yard at one time.  And it has ongoing decontamination issues which were identified in planning applications a few years ago now.  This site will also have to be closely looked at for the same things.  And it will affect whether or not underground parking can be provided.  If extensive decontamination is required the area will just be capped and there would be no digging into it for underground parking basements.
Cllr O’Quinn brought up parking first and foremost.  I know from years of planning apps and planning committees that this is a major issue.  If no basement is possible….they have a problem.  All agree that car club provision would be wanted for the new estate.  I warned them the Tories are uber-keen about parking provision on a 1:1 basis!  One car space per flat.   Unlikely here!
I warned there is no significant food shopping nearby which would mean getting in cars or needing delivery space for food bought online.
One brick elevation drawing in the stack  seemed suggestive only of appearance, but had an interesting internal balcony treatment  lopping off a right angle corner.  Both myself and Cllr O’Quinn spoke about proximity of Hove Station making this an attractive potential commuter flats site.  I wondered about family housing, but it was not thought right for this site.  I still think BHCC might look to get some 3 and 4 bed flats here, though.
The site is on the Peacock Industrial Estate, and before that it was a railway siding.  An element of employment space is proposed to be incorporated in the scheme to replace the small amount of employment the present warehouses can provide.  How will BHCC feel about losing the entire site as employment-led?
In the last year or two the loss of GP surgeries became a serious issue for the city.  Across the road from this proposed redevelopment is the Charter Medical Centre which agreed to take over the 10,000 list when the Cromwell Road practice was forcibly closed by the authorities.  It CANNOT take on residents from this site too, on top of who will go into whatever Hyde eventually builds in front of this site (and another building here is going to be converted to flats too!!).  Scary, huh?  This too was brought up and discussed.  With sad faces.

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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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