PLANS for a new multi-million pound development of nearly 200 homes, dozens of offices and shops have been revealed.

Matsim Properties have unveiled proposals for the transformation of industrial units in the heart of Hove into high-rise modern housing, offices and retail space.

The Sussex-based firm hope the plans could be the beginning of a much larger development to revive a tired-looking section of the city.

The company’s Hove Square project, which proposed office space for 1,250 jobs, a nine-screen Vue cinema, a supermarket and 380 homes collapsed in 2012.

The new Hove Gardens project in Conway Street would see the demolition of three industrial units to be replaced, providing 178 apartments, 21,500 sq ft of "employment space" and 2,500 sq ft of small flexible use space at ground level with room for expansion for start ups and small businesses.

Apartment blocks rising up to 15 storeys in height would be finished with rooftop allotments, communal gardens and potential for a pop-up bar and cinema.

Homes would vary between one to three bedrooms and could be a mixture of owner occupied, shared ownership and private renting.

A public consultation on the plan is scheduled for next Saturday and plans could be sitting on council officers’ desks by December.

Simon Lambor, from the developers, hopes work can begin in August 2017 and would take a maximum of two years to complete.

He said the area had great potential and the development could both emulate the success of the New England Quarter around Brighton Station while also learning lessons from it, in particular in terms of improved public space.

Mr Lambor said: “It’s a pretty rundown area especially when you consider what a great location it is right next to Hove station.

“It is a really good area for housing and it has great transport links.”

Mr Lambor said the development would have reduced rents to encourage small businesses and start-ups, operating from ground floor shop units.

He said he hoped to encourage more footfall in the area and was inspired by a spontaneous growth of start-up companies operating out of garages in Ethel Street.

The firm hope that s106 money given to the council as part of the development agreement will be used to improve the street scene, transforming a run-down and threatening back alley into a busy thoroughfare.

Mr Lambor said this smaller Hove Gardens development did not mean that the company had given up on achieving the larger project they had sought to deliver three years ago.

He said: “If we wait until we can deliver the whole scheme we may miss the market timing and the opportunity to make something of this great site.

“Then it could be locked away for another 20 years until the market comes back around.

“We are still confident we can deliver that grander vision, but in a different way.

“If anything this initial development could bring that vision closer because we will have proved we can make it happen.”

Designs for the proposal will go on display at a public consultation held at the Clarendon Centre next Saturday [Nov 21] between 11am and 4pm.

For more information visit

The Argus: The new Hove Gardens project by Matsim Properties is next to Hove station.


The course of new developments in Brighton and Hove never runs smoothly.

Sometimes ambitious projects, like Frank Gehry’s gleaming towers for the King Alfred or the Black Rock ice rink, never make it from paper to concrete.

Other developments require the patience of a saint – including the wait for the expansion of Brighton Marina which lasted more than a decade.

But now the cranes are starting to appear around the city, not only with the i360 on the seafront, but also on Circus Street, where building work will begin at the start of next year, while long derelict sites such as Preston Barracks and Anston House have either sprung into life or are ready to go.

So enter stage right Hove-based Matsim Properties, returning to a site they worked exhaustively and ultimately unproductively to redevelop three years ago.

The company spent around £1 million and two years trying to deliver the previous Hove Square project which had the potential to create a brand new focal point for Hove. That most desired of retailers, John Lewis, was also mentioned briefly as a possible new tenant.

Jackie O’Quinn, Goldsmid ward councillor, hopes that some of the ambition of the previous scheme could be incorporated in a longer-term redevelopment of the area which would start with the new Hove Gardens plan.

She said: “I think Hove has missed out with not having that original plan for Hove Square and I do hope that we could get something in there in the future, something along those lines.”

Helmut Lusser, chairman of Hove Civic Society and member of Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum, said the failure of the previous scheme may have been a simple matter of timing.

He said: “I think the whole development came a bit too early. It took people by surprise.

“There were a lot of positive responses but there were also a lot of negative views. It’s a much smaller development being proposed this time but if this is done successfully that could lead to other developments that can fit in with it.”

The plans began to unravel when the brakes were applied to Brighton and Hove Bus Company’s proposed move from their depot in Conway Street up to Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury.

Matsim had hoped the bus company would move and free up the bus depot for redevelopment.

The Argus: An aerial view of the development proposed for Conway Street in Hove by Matsim Properties

The project was dealt a final fatal blow in disagreements with Brighton and Hove City Council over the density of housing the site should support.

Some of the pieces of the jigsaw for a wider development of the area remain in place.

Matsim Properties also owns nearby Agora House, a fully-let office block which received a complete makeover in 2004.

Some offices are let until 2019 but Mr Lambor said firms could be relocated into the newly-created offices across the way and Agora House could be redeveloped.

The developers still also harbour ambitions for the tired-looking Industrial House next door – which is council owned.

A council spokesman said the site is currently designated for start-up businesses and industrial units and the authority has no current plans to change this.

Even if Hove Gardens does not lead on to a bigger scheme in the future, it seems certain to be warmly received in the strangely neglected Conway Street area of affluent and flourishing Hove.

Cllr O’Quinn said: “I think the area is desperately in need of development. I receive a lot of emails from residents concerned about the general state of the area.

“People have been saying for years that something needs to be done to the area but nothing has been done moving forward. I have seen a model for the plans and it looks like a really good development.

Mr Lusser agreed: “The area is absolutely desperately in need of improvements. It’s going to have a good mixture of homes and commercial space and there’s plans for a pretty attractive approach dealing with the street-level space.

“It’s high but that’s what the area needs and it’s close to public transport, and hopefully can become part of something much more attractive around the station.

“What I particularly like in the design is a huge amount of greening up, a lot of green walls and a lot of green on all levels and if that comes forward it will have a hugely beneficial impact on the area.”

Mr Lambor said the plans were focused on creating an attractive space for new residents to live by creating a village-type feel at ground level.

He said eventually he hoped Conway Street could become pedestrianised with improved access to Hove Railway Station which is currently via an old and unwelcoming flight of stairs.

He added: “We’re hoping to create publicly accessible roof space on the fifth floor where you can have a pop-up cinema, pop-up bar and a community venue.

“There are not that many spaces like that in Brighton and Hove.

“We would look to have considerable PV (photo-voltic solar panels] and accessible roof top allotments.

“A lot of thought has gone in to the design of this scheme to ensure that it complements and enables the future development of the surrounding sites and area in general.”

Surrounded by industrial sites, high-rise council housing and railway lines, the area is in a council-designated tall building area.

Cllr O’Quinn said that high-rise development could be accommodated in Hove in the right locations.

She said: “I think in some areas it’s OK to build up and I think in this area south of the railway and where you already have high-rise blocks like Clarendon House.

“I wouldn’t want to see high-rises on the other side at the Goldstone development, which fortunately it isn’t, or all the way to the seafront, but in some parts of Hove it is appropriate especially when you consider we are under such pressure to build more houses.

“Of course the problem is then to make sure that we have the right infrastructure as well, with GP surgeries and schools especially when there is a lot of development coming to Hove which will have a big impact and which will see the area change a lot.

“I think it’s exciting but all that potential development has to be handled carefully.”

Matsim have already met with members of Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum on several occasions developing the project and have already modified heights of some of the buildings following discussions.

Mr Lusser said: “I think it’s for the benefit of the forum members, residents and the businesses if we all work together on the future of the area.

“Matsim know the area inside out and they have a good understanding of the quality needed here.

“This development is of a quality much, much higher than what is here at the moment.”

With its location right next to the railway station, the new homes if built are certain to attract interest from London as well as local residents.

A report last year said Hove was the most popular destination for London-based young professionals outside of the capital.

It was an issue that Hove MP Peter Kyle broached, tongue-in-cheek, during his maiden speech to Parliament describing Hove as a victim of London “immigration”.

Cllr O’Quinn said who was buying new homes in the city was a major concern and key to solving the city’s housing crisis.

She said: “Forty per cent of flats sold in the city last year went to Londoners and I have huge concerns about apartments in new developments being sold to insurers or foreign-based companies.

“We don’t want to see the problems in the property market that London has had and I really wouldn’t want to see new developments here being part of that sort of property speculation.

“That would be very damaging for the area in pushing up costs and prices for residents.

“I’m not sure that Londoners, commuters, are the issue themselves.

“As long as Brighton and Hove can’t match the sort of salaries London can offer, then you are always going to get that to some extent.”

The Argus:


MATSIM Properties new Hove Gardens scheme is a smaller project compared with the previous Hove Square scheme.

A complete revival of the previous vision would require a deal with Brighton and Hove Bus Company – a prospect that looks less likely three years further down the line.

Martin Harris, Brighton and Hove Bus managing director, said: “We have had a good deal of interest in our site from developers. 

“The challenge for them all is to match the significant investments needed to create a new depot to meet our needs, and the even greater challenge of finding a location which is efficient to operate buses from. 

“This is essential to keep our operating costs under control to avoid having to pass on higher costs to customers. 

“Conway Street is excellently situated for bus operation. 

“Subject to the detail of any new plans, it is not anticipated that they would change our views on continuing to operate from Conway street. 

“We are considering further investment in our own site here ourselves but it would be good to see the rest of the area given a new lease of life.”