ONE of the city’s biggest private sector employers has revealed plans to expand its presence by a further 500 staff over the next four years.

Legal and General will increase the number of workers in their Hove offices from 1,300 to 1,800 staff by 2020 after the decision to close offices in Surrey - currently home to 1,500 staff.

An independent report commissioned by unions warned the closure of the Kingswood offices near Tadworth would "rip a £21m black hole" in the local economy.

But Surrey’s loss is Sussex’s gain with the firm indicating that some staff were likely to relocate to Hove while the move could also open up extra job vacancies.

The expansion plans were revealed in a planning application to add 34 more parking spaces to the 569 space car park at their Hove headquarters.

The insurance firm’s planning agents JLL said the shortage of parking currently at the Hove offices was a “barrier” for encouraging jobs

The firm currently occupies two three-storey offices at City Park in The Droveway, Hove, close to Hove Park – a site it has called home since 2006.

The firm currently has 1,300 employees based in two office buildings at the site while a third building is currently sub-let to Lloyds Banking Group.

It is expected that the number of Legal and General staff will expand to 1,800 within the next two to four years and will be accommodated in existing company offices which are currently only part-occupied.

The current car park has space for 569 vehicles – 407 of which are currently used by Legal and General staff and the remaining by Lloyds staff.

The planning agents said that the additional car parks would relieve the increasing pressure of workers parking in nearby residential streets.

Council planning officers were also told that many staff relocating from Surrey would not be able to commute via public transport and would need to travel by car.

Granting planning consent would mean Legal and General would not have to consider relocating to larger offices outside of the city.

The phased closure of the Surrey offices is underway and is expected to continue until 2018 with staff relocated to Hove and Cardiff.

A company spokeswoman said: “The planning application is in relation to our decision to move out of our offices in Kingswood.

“We therefore need to accommodate more of our staff who currently work in Kingswood and who will be moving to Hove, hence the need for more car parking space.”

A decision on the planning application is expected in September.