PLANS to convert the former Freebutt pub into three shared houses have gone to appeal.

Brighton and Hove City Council refused to grant planning permission for a million-pound scheme to convert the pub in Phoenix Place into homes in June.

The developer One Phoenix Place proposed “cluster flats” as houses in multiple occupation (HMO) with three wheelchair-accessible units and 23 “bed spaces” on the first, second and third floors.

Planning officials refused the application, under delegated authority, as the proposal had not shown that there was no need for a pub or community facility at the site.

A report said: “The standard of accommodation provided for the occupants of the HMOs would not be of an acceptable level due to insufficient communal space provision, especially the limited kitchen space/facilities.

“Together with the need to provide sufficient circulation space in order to access the kitchen areas, is likely to further diminish the usability of the limited communal area available.”

The Freebutt closed in 2010 after a series of noise complains and has remained vacant ever since.

The developer said in its appeal documents that the building was in a poor condition both inside and out.

It said that the building was a “blight within the community” and over the past 10 years the Freebutt had been regularly vandalised and squatted, leaving it in poor condition.

The effect of the coronavirus measures on the pub sector was also given as a reason to approve the plans.

The company said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that covid-19 has greatly impacted upon the pub sector and as the pandemic continues such impact will only lead to further closures of such businesses in this declining sector.

“It is hard to envisage how in this current economic climate, there would be increased interest in pub operations, particularly given the significant costs for refurbishment.”

The Planning Inspectorate is expected to decide the appeal after the developer submitted its final statement on 2 November.