CITY planners should build towards the sky to solve the housing shortfall, a leading architect has claimed.

Between 18,000 and 24,000 new homes are needed in Brighton and Hove – not including student residences, care homes or traveller sites.

Building sky-rise blocks could help to meet an estimated 5,000 and 11,000-home shortfall, says Paul Zara of Conran and Partners architects.

Mr Zara, speaking at housing debate Construction Voice held in Brighton on Tuesday, said: “People have a real problem with tall buildings. No one seems to like them.

“But in a city with so little land it’s got to be considered as an option.”

Poor quality, badly-placed 1960s blocks have blighted public perceptions of tower blocks in Brighton and Hove, he said.

But in order to move the city forward, residents “can’t be too precious”.

Mr Zara added: “I would rather build tall and beautiful than in the South Downs.

“We need to change the mindset. Families can live in blocks of flats. It’s just not part of our culture.”

His proposals were backed by a majority of the more than 100 people present.

But Jeremy Mustoe, of the Brighton Society, disagreed, saying: “It’s wrong that high buildings mean high density. Tall buildings create problems.

“I was horrified by this vision of Brighton. We’re not London or New York.”

The event, organised by the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, also heard from Lee Newlyn, of Mayfield Market Towns, a proposed 10,000-home town planned in Mid Sussex.

He said his plan would provide homes for those who can’t afford Brighton and workers moving to Sussex to work at Gatwick.

Just two people signalled their support for the proposal.

Anthony Watts Williams, of LAMBS (Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl), said parish and district councils, MPs and residents were united in their objection to Mayfield’s plan, which is subject to public examination.

Raising the issue of affordable-rented Andy Winter, of Brighton Housing Trust, asked: “Where are the people that staff our restaurants, bars and shops supposed to live?”

Sean Clemons, of Robinson Low Francis, cited Martello House on Portland Road, an office-to-residential scheme earmarked for 35 units, but increased to 89.