Agenda item - BH2021/00770 - 43-45 Bentham Road, Brighton - Full Planning

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Agenda item

BH2021/00770 - 43-45 Bentham Road, Brighton - Full Planning


1.    The Planning manager introduced the item to the committee.




2.    Anne Hammond spoke to the committee as an objector and stated that the considered the development to be unnecessary with no respect for the area and poor design standards. The small rooms are considered to induce a high turnover of tenants. There are concerns regarding fire safety and noise from the property outside to the front and rear. There is considered to be a loss of privacy resulting from the development for the neighbouring properties. The bin arrangements are not considered acceptable. The lack of parking would be a challenge in this already difficult area where road safety issues are a concern. There are concerns relating to anti-social behaviour. The room size standards are not good for occupiers. The development does not seem to be sustainable or consider bio-diversity. There are concerns regarding the large Elm tree to the front of the property on the roadside. The developer has not contacted the community where this development will impose on those already living there.


3.    Ward Councillor Powell spoke to the committee in objection and stated that the development did not respect the character and appearance of the existing building, the application was an over development of the site, the design created fire hazards, the bins were in the wrong place, the standard of accommodation was poor, and the development would result in noise and disturbance for the neighbours. The councillor requested that the Elm tree on the roadside outside the property be retained and attention should be paid to bio-diversity. The councillor stated they were very against the development.


4.    Ward Councillor Gibson spoke to the committee in favour and stated that the property has been empty for a long time and there is a housing need in the city, and an affordable homes crisis. Planning usually asks for 40% of a development to be affordable housing, sometimes less. This development will be 100% affordable housing. It was noted that Brighton Housing Trust support the application. The councillor considered that the need outweighed the design issues and asked the committee to bring the building back into use.


5.    Paul Burgess, the applicant’s agent, spoke to the committee and stated that the former church building had not been used since 1990. The development will retain the existing windows and walls and the one and two bedroom flats on offer are good and will be 100% affordable meeting minimum space standards. The agent was perplexed by the references to noise in this tightknit housing area and confirmed that no changes to the Elm tree were proposed. The committee were asked to support the application.




6.    Councillor Theobald was informed that the application was slightly different from the previous application in 2020 and that the Elm tree was outside the property boundary and it was considered that the works would have a minimum effect on the tree.


7.    Councillor Fishleigh was informed that there was no signed agreement with Brighton Housing Trust. The senior solicitor stated that any planning permission related to the land and there was no reason to make this a personal permission for Brighton Housing Trust. Ward Councillor Gibson stated that the trust manage sites and do not own them, and they were not aware of any formal agreement. The Planning manager confirmed there was an extant permission granted in 2004, which had not been built.


8.    Councillor Yates was informed that the alleyway to side of the property was not within the red line outlining the development and was not a new alleyway, however, the development would result in more use of the alleyway. It was noted that the bins would be stored to the rear of the property and brought to the front on collection day. Ward councillor Gibson considered there was a need for all sizes of accommodation across the city and they were in favour of studio flats, in this area of smaller houses, as there is an over riding need for houses due to the housing crisis.


9.    Councillor Moonan was informed that the developer had another development in a nearby road. The developer’s agent confirmed the other site was granted permission previously and the same architect had been used for both developments.


10.Councillor Childs was informed that the developer considered the felt the design was the best use of the site in this high density area.


11.Councillor Ebel was informed that the one bed flats were 37m2 and the two bed flats were 90m2, and this meet minimum standards. It was also noted that there was no limit in planning terms to the number of studio flats in one development.




12.Councillor Moonan considered there was the potential for good design at this location and noted there was no long or short term guarantee with the Brighton Housing Trust. The councillor considered the application to be an over development of the site and requested the developer re-think the development. The councillor supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.


13.Councillor Theobald considered the re-use of the church building to be good and felt a better mix of accommodation could be achieved, with a design that include family units. The councillor noted there no cycle or car parking were included in the application, and the bins were an issue. The councillor considered the development too small, an over development of the site and supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse.


14.Councillor Barnett considered the units to be too small and claustrophobic, resulting in mental health issues for the occupiers. The councillor requested the application be refused.


15.Councillor Ebel considered the provision of affordable housing was good, however this should not be achieved at any cost. The councillor requested the developer re-think the design and asked the committee to refuse the application.


16.Councillor Childs considered the building to be handsome and in need of renovation, however the application is an over development of the site. The councillor considered the loss of the community asset to be an issue even though the building had not been used for many years. The councillor stated they were against the application.


17.Councillor Yates considered that cycle parking should be included, however, it was understood that car parking could not be included in the scheme. The councillor considered the re-use of the building to be good and noted the community use has stopped. It was noted that the pavements in the street were crowded and the councillor had no concerns relating to the existing alleyway or the Elm tree. The councillor considered some of the windows, and all the accommodation to be too small and of a low standard. The councillor did not support the development as there were too many flats in the building and requested that the application be refused.


18.Councillor Littman considered the other church conversions to accommodation had been done well, however, this was not a good conversion. The councillor requested the developer to come back with a better scheme.




19.The committee voted unanimously with the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.


20.RESOLVED: That the Committee has taken into consideration and agrees with the reasons for the recommendation set out in the report and resolves to REFUSE planning permission for the following reasons:


1.    The proposed development would fail to provide a good mix of units and would represent an overdevelopment of the site by virtue of the number and cramped size of the studio units. The studio units would provide a cramped and oppressive environment and with restricted usability. Further, the size and enclosed nature of the amenity space would be neither useable nor private. The development would fail to achieve a good housing mix and would provide a poor standard of accommodation for future occupants, contrary to policies QD27 and HO5 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan, Policies DM1 and DM20 of City Plan Part Two, and Policies CP14 and CP19 of City Plan Part One.


2.    The proposed development would represent an unneighbourly form of development by virtue of the high concentration of smaller units which would cause unacceptable levels of noise and disturbance to adjoining occupiers. Further, as a result of the addition of rear window openings the development would result in direct and obtrusive views into the rear windows and rear gardens of the extant development to the rear and would be detrimental to the amenity of the future occupiers. The proposed development would therefore consequently be contrary to policies SU10 and QD27 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan, and Policy DM20 of City Plan Part 2.

Supporting documents:


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