RESIDENTS have slammed plans for a 17-storey tower block after developers stepped their proposals up a gear.

They fear the planned tower block in Ellen Street, Hove, originally to be called Hove Gardens, would spell disaster for the area and make it look “like Croydon’s coming to Hove”.

Developer Watkin Jones has secured a deal on the site, which has permission for 186 flats in a 17-storey block close to Hove Station, with car parking and commercial space it said would be used for “shops, bars, and restaurants”.

The project looked as if it was on ice after the original developer Matsim won the planning permission on appeal at the end of last year.

Now a new company, Watkin Jones, has stepped in. But residents are seeking clarification after Watkin Jones said it had “secured” the site from Matsim and was going to “rework” the consent “so the development is able to become part of the group’s growing build-to-rent development pipeline”.

The scheme is set to be completed by 2022.

Many of those living in Hove are concerned. Jeremy Mustoe, chairman of The Brighton Society, said: “When the application came in two or three years ago we felt at the time that it was too big for that part of Hove.

“I think being close to the station is a good place for some high-

density housing, but the building is too high, really, particularly the 17-storey element.

“It would change the character of Hove significantly.

“In principle it’s fine but the form it takes isn’t.

“Hove is being overwhelmed with these high-density, tall blocks. It’s like Croydon’s coming to Hove.

“We need something more respectable and polite to the surrounding area. The area east of there is one of the most high-density places in the South of England, but you wouldn’t know it because the houses are six-storeys at most.

“What we need is high-density, low-rise housing, because it is possible. It just doesn’t seem to be what developers prefer.”

Others fear the site could become student housing. Valerie Paynter, from the planning campaign group Save Hove, said: “There’s a case for build-to-rent developments. It’s something we badly need.

“But the developers seem to focus on student accommodation: looking at their website, that’s what screams off the page. If that’s the case, this could be really worrying. We’ll have to wait and see.”

David Bungard, who lives in Hove, said: “They have already got a number of blocks in Ellen Street, plus there are plenty planned for Davigdor Road and there’s a new proposal for Palmeira Road.

“We’ve got a lot here already. Hove doesn’t need any more of this, we need truly affordable housing.

Watkin Jones said the site is in an area which is “in need of investment and is part of a wider regeneration zone known as Hove Station Quarter”. It plans 186 units of one, two or three-bedroom apartments and space for offices and shops.

Currently the site is occupied by old warehousing and the firm said the proposals would “regenerate” the “largely rundown industrial area” around Hove Station.