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Urge for action to avoid house-building crisis
Developers, business leaders and officials from the housing industry are demanding action to avert a house-building crisis in Sussex.
A property developer last night called on Brighton and Hove City Council to reopen talks on a multimillion-pound scheme in the city or face losing the opportunity to regenerate a rundown area.
Hove-based firm Matsim Properties has abandoned its plans for 90,000 sq ft of office space, a nine-screen Vue cinema, a 22-storey building, a supermarket and about 380 homes in five high-rise blocks near Hove Station.
The scheme was predicted to create 1,250 full-time jobs at the site.
Now Craig Ritchie at Matsim Properties has revealed the company has set a Christmas deadline on whether it will walk away from the area completely. He said the firm is meeting with key business figures this week to decide whether the project has a future.
Mr Ritchie said: “Brighton and Hove is unique in that it is constrained by the sea and the national park and yet one of the most desirable places to live in the country.
“The advantage of the Hove Square plan is that it delivers high density housing in the least sensitive area. We need to talk further with planners from the council if the scheme is to get the go-ahead.
“Talks have broken down with the council. The original plan will not now go ahead but we have worked on this for three years so we would like to build something on the site.
“We need to know where we are going with this development before Christmas. You can’t keep business partners waiting for ever.”
Brighton and Hove City Council’s blueprint for the city’s future calls for almost 1,000 homes a year to be built until 2030.
But because of a shortage of space in the city, officials are in talks with neighbouring authorities to agree to some of Brighton and Hove’s housing requirement being built elsewhere.
It comes as the National Housing Federation warned the number of new homes needed in East Sussex alone would rise from 354,600 in 2012 to 434,000 in 2033.
Warren Finney, south east lead manager at the federation, said: “We are simply not building enough homes to keep up with demand, and unless this changes, the situation is going to get worse.
"It’s time for us all – politicians, industry and people in East Sussex – to say yes to homes.”
Toads Hole Valley
Tony Mernagh, the executive director at Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said the development of Toads Hole Valley in Hove is also crucial to the future of the city.
He said: “As support for development grows by the week, politicians who oppose these benefits need to come up with serious reasons why.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “The council is working hard with neighbouring authorities to make sure our respective planning policies and development aspirations join up and make sense.
“We recognise that the health and prosperity of our economy rests on people being able to travel between work and home regardless of administrative boundaries.
"The planning system is an important part of creating more quality affordable homes. There are no easy answers and that is why we need to work together to arrive at the best possible solutions.”