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Rift with council halts ‘Hove Square’ scheme
A multimillion pound redevelopment has been put on hold after disagreements between developers and council chiefs.
Hove-based firm Matsim have been working for three years to secure a six-hectare plot near Hove Station.
The plans, which have been dubbed Hove Square, include 90,000sq ft of office space for about 1,250 jobs, a nine-screen Vue cinema, a 22-storey building, supermarket and about 380 homes in five high-rise blocks.
But, with a self-imposed deadline for submitting a planning application passing, developers have admitted they have “downed tools”.
Further talks with planners from Brighton and Hove City Council will need to be held if the scheme is to get the go-ahead.
Developers called it a “once-in-a- lifetime opportunity” to transform the area, which includes Ellen Street, Conway Street and Fonthill Road. Brighton-based architects LCE, which won a competition to redesign the area, had said a planning application could be submitted by the end of October.
Developers were hopeful work could start by early 2014.
However, at a public meeting on Wednesday, representatives from Matsim confirmed it had delayed plans.
Valerie Paynter of Save Hove said there appeared to have been a falling out between officers and developers.
She added: “Developers have to make enough money to get their investment back but what Matsim is proposing isn’t matching up with the council’s figures.”
The proposal is designed around a new pedestrian route, New Conway Street, which passes through the middle of the development with Hove Station at one end and Sackville Road at the other.
Cafes, restaurants and other shops will be included, with underground parking.
However, the current proposals do not meet the guidelines for the area in the draft City Plan, which will guide development until 2030.
It states it should provide a minimum of 575 homes and 4,000sqm employment floor space.
A council spokesman said: “Matsim Properties, the potential developer of the Hove Station site, is undertaking a review of the scheme in the light of discussions with the city council and the recent public consultation.
“Active design work for the scheme has therefore been put on hold for the time being.”
Craig Ritchie, director at Matsim Properties, said: “We have had to stop our architects from working and this is as a result of discussions we have had with the planning department at the council and a misunderstanding of how their thinking is progressing.
“This is regrettable but it is the reality that we can only work on a development that we can deliver and that makes financial sense.”
The scheme is directly tied to the successful sale of The Argus headquarters in Hollingbury to Brighton and Hove Buses.
The bus company would turn the Hollingbury site into a depot, freeing up its current Conway Street site for development.
Newsquest, the parent company of The Argus, said the newspaper offices would be relocated to somewhere within the city boundary if the scheme goes ahead.
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