Recent plans put forward by developers First Base and The Hyde Group for the redevelopment of Anston House have been met with fierce resistance from local residents of Brighton and Hove for a number of reasons. In this blog post we will examine the case for and against the proposed works.
Anston house, situated on Preston Road opposite Preston Park in Brighton, has been unused since 1987 and was even voted Sussex’s ugliest building in 2003. First Base intend to demolish the existing building and in its place build three high-rise blocks of flats fifteen, fourteen and thirteen storeys high including a mix of 229 one, two and three bedroom flats of which 40% will be affordable housing.
The site will include a workspace for up to 280 people as well as event space to be used by local businesses, schools and universities. In addition, there will be a cafe operated by a local business to encourage non-residents of Brighton and Hove to utilise the area. First Base has partnered with The Hyde Group which has experience working in Brighton and Hove, their most recent project being the Super B flat development minutes from Brighton Station, awarded Best Residential Development in East Sussex at the prestigious UK Property Awards.
First Base has suggested that £139m of economic activity will be generated throughout the construction process, which is estimated to last approximately two and a half years and create 344 additional construction-related jobs for Brighton and Hove. £6.2m is expected to be spent on local shops and businesses by the new residents and the potential addition of 229 more homes to Brighton’s crowded housing market is hard to ignore, especially for the Council who are desperate to increase the availability of affordable homes in the area.
Proposed Environmental Benefits
The finished project will include 5000m2 of external space that was not being utilised prior to the development, as well as shared landscaped courtyards for residential use.
Local Residents’ Concerns
4,000 Brighton, Hove, and Sussex residents have signed a petition opposing the proposed plans for a number of reasons, a few of which are stated below:
- The proposed three towers will cast a solid shadow across the Grade II listed Preston Park, specifically the Rose Garden and Rotunda. During the afternoon from October to March, significant areas of Preston Park will be completely be in the shadow of the new towers.
- Over 200 windows will fully or partially look out into the gardens of houses located on Dyke Road Drive, an issue that has not been addressed.
- The three towers are not in keeping with buildings in the area and set a precedent for more high-rise buildings to be built in one of the few gateways to the city.
We must acknowledge that despite the grand scale of the building which local residents strongly oppose, Brighton is desperate for more housing due to rising demand. House prices in Brighton and Hove have risen approximately 500% in the last twenty years, and to afford an average one bedroom flat at £245,000, a household will need to earn roughly £45,000 for Anston House flats to be affordable. Let’s hope the proposed “affordable” housing is in fact affordable.
When considering this controversial project, it ultimately comes down to whether you value Brighton’s demand for more housing and its economic benefits over retaining Brighton’s unique landscape which steers away from buildings of great height. The need for additional housing in Brighton, where average prices have doubled in the past fourteen years, outweighs the local concern of aesthetic appeal. The buildings are in some ways typically “Brighton”, with three buildings facing opposing ways, it aims to be quirky and different. It strives to create an environmentally friendly appeal to a site which has been derelict for nearly thirty years and even branded Sussex