Royal Mail has hit back at criticism over a planned new delivery office and said it will improve its service across the city.

Patcham residents have been up in arms about the proposed distribution site, which would be built on land in Patcham Court Farm and includes new storage facilities and a vehicle maintenance facility.

Campaigners have expressed concerns over the possibility of contamination of an aquifer at the site, which could threaten Brighton's water supply, as well as increased traffic in the village caused by HGVs.

Among those opposing the project include the ward’s Conservative councillors and Green MP Caroline Lucas, who said she is “deeply concerned” by the plans.

However, Royal Mail has defended the proposal and said the development will improve working conditions for staff and improve the efficiency of deliveries across Brighton and Hove.

It said traffic in the city centre would be reduced with the closure of its current site in North Road.

It also said that, following public feedback, the project will now include additional screening to “reduce further the visual impact” as well as putting in place “additional mitigation measures” to provide further protections to the aquifer.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “This proposed development is a big investment and an excellent opportunity to create a new, environmentally friendly and purpose-built delivery office which will greatly improve working conditions for our staff, safeguarding 380 jobs and improve the efficiency of our deliveries across Brighton and Hove.

“Closing and relocating the two central Brighton and Hove sites will bring important additional benefits such as freeing up large plots of land for housing development and significantly reducing polluting traffic in the heart of the city.

“It is very important to us that we mitigate or remove any potential impact the new development may have on residents in Patcham.

“We have held two public consultation events where we have encouraged feedback on the proposals and made significant amendments to address people’s concerns.

“This has included changing the entrance to the site specifically to prevent HGVs from passing through Patcham.

“Multiple assessments have been carried out to tackle pollution and traffic in the area as well as protect the drinking water and there will be additional measures on site to guarantee no off-site flood risk resulting from the development.

“A comprehensive assessment has also concluded the development will not have an adverse impact on the adjacent conservation area.

“The building is set back from Vale Avenue, rises only slightly higher than the existing buildings and employs the use of natural materials inherent to Patcham Conservation Area.”

Council leader Bella Sankey said she is “aware of the strongly held views” on the plans and that residents will be consulted before a final decision on the plan is made.

She said: “All proposals for the area will be considered, along with other possible uses for the land.”

Comments and objections to the project can be made on the council’s website.