NINETY-THREE homes have been approved on the site of a former prep school despite hundreds of objections from neighbours.

Opponents packed the public gallery at Hove Town Hall but their pleas to councillors fell on deaf ears.

More than 400 people wrote to the council to object to the proposal on the site of St Aubyn’s School.

Critics focused on concerns about pollution, air quality and a growing number of cars driving through the village.

Councillor Julie Cattell, who chairs the planning committee, said: “The school really is in a terrible state.

“It is a wonderful historic building and it would be a shame just to let it go.

“Leaving it does not benefit anybody in the village at all.

“I welcome the fact a listed building is being restored.”

Councillor Warren Morgan acknowledged there is huge concern about traffic in Rottingdean.

But he said: “I do not know how this makes it much worse than when the school was open. Were the school to reopen as a school then there would be traffic movement with that.”

Nitrogen dioxide levels were described as “way above legal levels” by Rottingdean parish councillor John Bryant.

But the parish council supported the scheme, which includes 37 “affordable” homes.

Councillor Mears and Councillor Bryant asked for a commitment that the affordable homes would go to local people.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty asked how the developer, Fairfax Acquisitions, would deal with concerns about air quality and whether a car-free development had been considered.

Fairfax’s air quality consultant Paul Beckett said that air quality policy requirements had been met. Its highways expert Phil Hamshaw said that people moving into the new homes would be offered membership of a car club.

Half the parking spaces would have electric charging points.

Planning officer Chris Swain said that the air quality officer had described the impact of the scheme as acceptable, with the amount of extra traffic likely to be “relatively small”.

Councillor Lynda Hyde called for developer money to be used to support St Margaret’s School in the village. She said that larger classrooms were needed, describing St Margaret’s as the “community primary school.”

Councillor Hyde said: “This has been the most difficult application I have ever had to deal with in my ward. It is controversial and when I speak to people they are 60-40, with 60 wanting the housing and 40 not.”