A FORMER petrol station could be levelled to make way for a nine storey complex of 55 homes and a supermarket.

The former Texaco garage site in Hove’s Kingsway, which was damaged by a lorry and closed more than a year ago, is set to be developed.

The 108-year-old pub The Alibi, which closed last year, will also be converted into “flexible commercial space” with flats above as part of the scheme.

The design and the scale of the scheme has been criticised by conservationists who warned it would “totally eclipse” locally listed buildings nearby.

The scheme has been brought forward by Brighton-architects LCE who were part of the runner-up bid for the adjacent King Alfred development, and ECE Planning, who are currently involved in a second attempt to win over the public with their £35 million redevelopment of the former Aquarena site in Worthing.

The nine-storey tower would include one, two and three bedroom flats with a four-bed apartment on the top floor.

A new 375 sqm Co-operative store is part of the redevelopment plans, creating 24 full and part-time jobs and bringing £1.15 million to the local economy.

The applicants are proposing a “sensitive restoration” of The Alibi with the ground floor and basement being turned into 230 sqm of flexible business space with four apartments on the upper floors.

The plans have changed a little since their first unveiling at a public consultation event last November with an additional four apartments added.

A proposed 26 space basement car park has been removed leaving just nine resident car parking spaces.

The applicants have said the city’s housing need requires “an efficient and effective use” of previously developed land.

The project team said the main principle of the design was to create a “prominent landmark feature” while retaining the setting of the surrounding heritage buildings.

Greg Hoare, of Rocco Homes, said: "The scheme includes a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom apartments to provide much needed new homes in Brighton and Hove that will make the best use of this under-utilised and run-down site on Hove seafront.’’

Valerie Paynter, of Save Hove, said she had told Bath Court residents to consider getting electronic gates for the street because the shortage of parking, with one space for every seven apartments, would force new flat owners to park in nearby streets.

She added: “The beautiful St Aubyns Mansions will be completely eclipsed by this building.

“To put something like that between St Aubyns and a heritage asset like The Alibi is an insult.

“It is angular and hard and brick.

“It is an attempt to be indifferent and it is similar to the Ellen Street scheme, they will be like little silos in the city.”