ENVIRONMENTAL protests are looming after controversial plans for flats were approved.

The scheme involves building 242 homes on a triangle of land between the A27 and Coldean Lane, Brighton, as part of a joint venture between the city council and Hyde housing association.

Hundreds of people objected to the scheme for two seven-storey and four six-storey buildings, writing letters and signing a petition.

One of them, Becky Hobbs, criticised the proposal when the planning committee met to discuss it.

She said ecological surveys carried out on the site were “inadequate” and disputed findings about the number of badger setts there.

A report to the committee said there were eight badger setts of which five were in use. Ms Hobbs said there were more and added that people living in new developments in Saltdean were complaining about badgers because homes had been built on the animals’ setts.

She mentioned the protest campaign Extinction Rebellion and said: “This will be the next Newbury bypass. There will be protests. Extinction Rebellion are sitting on our doorstep.”

She reminded the council about campaigns in Whitehawk where another project put forward by the council’s joint venture with Hyde had been shelved after protests.

She urged the council to look at brownfield and derelict sites as well as Brighton General Hospital as alternative locations.

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty asked about the status of the Coldean site after suggestion it was a “wildlife site”.

He was told it was not in the Stanmer Park Conservation Area nor in the South Downs National Park and was not designated as a wildlife reserve. But he was told wildlife had been considered even without a “wildlife reserve” designation.

Despite his reservations he said: “We need affordable homes desperately and we need to look after the environment we live in.

“These are genuinely affordable homes when we are living through an affordability crisis.”

County ecologist Kate Cole said the small population of slow worms and common lizards could be managed on site and the habitat kept.

Of the eight badger setts, one was a main sett, one was unoccupied and the other six were “outliers”.

Three, including the unoccupied sett would be closed under licence from Natural England. Fencing would protect the remaining setts.

Half the homes would be for shared ownership while half would be available at a “living rent”, making them affordable for people on the national living wage.

The joint venture’s plans are part of a £120 million investment in building 1,000 “truly affordable” homes across Brighton and Hove.

The Coldean proposal is the first to achieve planning permission after the joint venture dropped plans for its Whitehawk scheme.

Plans for 111 flats in a six-storey block and an eight-storey block in Clarendon Place, Portslade, are due to be decided in September.

Work is expected to start on the eight-acre site in the new year, with construction taking up to two years.