WITH a crunch of concrete and sparks flying from grating metal, workers began demolishing a block behind Kings House in Hove yesterday.

On Tuesday morning, a high-reach excavator with steel claws pulled down chunks of rubble, razing the facade in Grand Avenue.

A construction worker at the site said the building was being torn down and turned into flats.

Kings House is a Grade II listed historical structure built in the 1870s. Until recently it was home to Brighton and Hove City Council offices.

In 2017 it was sold for £26,125,000 with plans to turn it into housing.

Oakley Property Agents, which is marketing the site, said developers intend to refurbish the inside of the building and turn it into 69 one, two and three bed apartments.

A planning application proposes a ten-storey building in Grand Avenue with a basement car park, and details plans for a six-storey building comprising 28 flats in Second Avenue.

A member of staff at Oakley said: “The modern wing at the rear of Kings House is coming down and being replaced.

“The main building is not being demolished.”

The Argus:

Oakley’s director James Epps said the builders were “taking down a modern extension constructed in the 1960s”.

He said: “It isn’t listed and it was not considered a good use of space.”

He said the building set to stand in its place will look like “a modern apartment block.”

The planning application explains the scheme to demolish the block overlooking Grand Avenue and convert the building in front of Queen’s Gardens into 69 apartments.

The proposals include bike storage units and recycling points.

In 2018, the city council raised concerns about a lack of parking at the proposed development and voiced fears over the limited number of affordable homes.

At a planning meeting that year, Councillor Andrew Wealls said people would struggle to find a parking space in nearby streets.

But the council’s planning committee approved the flats in Queen’s Gardens, Grand Avenue and Second Avenue.

The developer said the new building would be about the same height as the offices vacated by the council.

But neighbour Melinda Barrett spoke of the potential for an “overwhelming loss of privacy”, fearing the new flats would allow people to see into her house “24/7” and not just during office hours.