Government dumps Beetham Tower plans

The final nail has been driven into the coffin of the plans to put a 42-storey tower block next to Brighton station.

Proposals to build the Beetham Tower near the station received fierce opposition from residents when they were unveiled.

But now the scheme seems doomed after the Government backed locals and councillors and rejected the plans.

Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for communities and local government, agreed with Brighton and Hove City Council that plans for the tower should be refused because the structure would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.

In April 2005 the council's planning committee voted unanimously against the application on the grounds it would damage the character and appearance of the area, having an impact on listed buildings and conservation areas. They also said there was a lack of outdoor recreation space in the plans.

The Beetham Organisation appealed against the council's decision and a public inquiry was held in November 2006.

Yesterday, after taking the advice of a Government planning inspector, Ms Kelly told the council she supported its decision and the reasons for it and said the tower would not provide any additional regeneration benefits over and above those in the previously agreed masterplan for the New England Quarter.

She added that the 400ft building would be alien to the form of Brighton.

Plans for the tower included 146 flats and a public rooftop garden, while the rest of the site would have contained a four-star hotel and a pedestrianised square.

The developer claimed a publicly accessible rooftop garden just below the tower's highest point would provide better views than the i360 planned for the foot of the West Pier, while the square at the foot of the tower would create a safe public space and provide a natural route from The Level, up Ann Street, to the station.

Martin Randall, city planner for the council, said: "I'm pleased that the secretary of state shares the council's view that a very tall landmark building is inappropriate on this elevated site.

"The council now looks forward to working with the owners of the site to secure an appropriate development, including the required pedestrian link from London Road to the railway station and the restoration of the green corridor that runs through the New England Quarter."

Green councillor Keith Taylor, who represents St Peter's and North Laine ward, spoke against the application in the public inquiry.

He said: "Together with local residents, I breathe a sigh of relief this wholly unwelcome project has been binned.

"The massive tower would have loomed above the historic North Laine and dominated the city centre's skyline.

"Ruth Kelly has done well to uphold the wishes of local people and the city council."

No-one from the Beetham Organisation was last night available for comment.

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