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King Alfred plans set for approval
Town hall officials have recommended the controversial King Alfred redevelopment be given the go-ahead.
But the £290 million Frank Gehry project faces Brighton and Hove City Council's planning committee this Friday in its final hurdle - and the vote looks to be finely poised.
Developer Karis wants to build 751 homes and a new sports complex to replace the run-down leisure centre on Hove seafront which dates back to the 1930s.
Opponents of the scheme have criticised the planning recommendation after it emerged the approval is subject to 86 conditions being fulfilled.
Averil Older, councillor for Central Hove, said the scheme should not be given the green light while so many questions remained unanswered.
She said: "It baffles me that we have gone this far through the planning process and that it has been readvertised five times and it still takes 86 conditions before the officers can give it approval.
"That this has come forward with 86 conditions makes a mockery of the planning process.
"It means that officers will be responsible for deciding whether this major plan is approved and I do not think that is democratic."
The viewpoint was echoed by Valerie Paynter, of the anti-King Alfred group Save Hove.
She said: "Developers do not follow conditions through and it puts power in the hands of the developers."
Councillor Simon Burgess, leader of the council, dismissed the criticism.
He said: "The number of conditions just shows how diligently the council is taking the issue and if there were no conditions those who are complaining would be the first to say that deals were being done behind closed doors."
The conditions range from the continued involvement of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to anti-wind measures being introduced.
Green councillor Keith Taylor said that the planning panel faced a difficult balancing act.
He said: "We have been behind the principle of delivering new sports facilities paid for by housing at King Alfred since day one.
"We believed the original designs by architect Frank Gehry were exciting and would have been a stunning addition to the city.
"Additionally we were able to secure sustainable improvements and an extra £1m for a seafront bus.
"However, in our party's view the ever increasing demands for a more intense development of this constrained site have resulted in too much being asked from too small an area.
"Councillors on the planning committee will have to consider the application on its strengths and weaknesses.
"They'll have a difficult job deciding if the adverse impacts of the development are outweighed by its positive aspects."
Plans to include a doctor's surgery have also been dealt a blow after the city's Primary Care Trust (PCT) revealed the 257 square metres being offered is too small.
In its submission, the PCT reveals: "The area surrounding the development is already overstretched in terms of being able to provide services to meet local health needs and the proposal would exacerbate this.
The PCT would support provision in the King Alfred development if it was of sufficient size to relocate existing services and provide capacity for projected growth (approx 1,600 square metres).
"It is disappointing that the revised scheme only allows for 257 square metres which is insufficient to locate a primary care facility that is fit for purpose for the future to accommodate not only existing services, but also the increased range in services the PCT is planning to relocate from hospitals."
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