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Business leader says Brighton Marina plan is key for jobs and homes
A business leader has urged a planning inspector to grant permission to a complex of 1,300 homes for the good of Brighton and Hove's economy.
Tony Mernagh, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, spoke yesterday at the end of the fourth week of the inquiry into plans for the controversial development at Brighton Marina.
He said the proposed seven towers blocks, shops and offices were key to providing jobs and homes badly needed in the city.
Mr Mernagh said Brighton and Hove needed to start fulfilling its role as the main driver in the economic "diamond" on the Sussex Coast.
He said: "To put it bluntly, this diamond needs to get its act together and start delivering jobs and homes for its population.
"And it can no longer afford the glacial pace that took two decades to deliver the New England Quarter at the Station Goodsyard or the three decades to deliver the new library in Jubilee Street."
Mr Mernagh was called as a witness at the five week long inquiry into the plans.
Planning inspector Martin Pike has been called in to reconsider the proposals after Explore Living, the developers behind the plans, appealled against Brighton and Hove City Council's decision to reject them last December.
At the conclusion of the public inquiry at the East Wing of the Brighton Centre he will compile a report to pass to Communities Secretary John Denham for a final decision. It is expected in March at the earliest.
After presenting his views yesterday Mr Mernagh was cross-examined by residents. Under questioning he conceded he should not have commented on the architecture of the marina, which he described as brutal, and that comments suggesting it should be attracting more than three million visitors a year were not based on comparisons with other marinas.
Mr Mernagh maintained developing the marina for the benefit of the city was the overriding priority.
He said: "It's really a case of ask not what the marina can do for you as what the marina can do for the city."
On Thursday John Gummer MP, the former environment secretary, also spoke in support of the scheme, proposed for a site at the west side of the marina, where Asda, McDonald's and a petrol station currently stand.