Chris Eubank's hopes of demolishing two exclusive houses and replacing them with flats have suffered a bruising blow.

The retired boxer wanted to tear down the houses in The Upper Drive, Hove, to make way for five huge blocks comprising 41 homes.

The former world champion took defeat on the chin and vowed to fight back to get the proposal through after Brighton and Hove City Council planners yesterday decided the proposed development would be too big.

Campaigners against the proposals applauded the ruling.

Councillor David Watkins said: "The sooner we give this proposal a knockout blow the better."

Mr Eubank said a new application would be submitted.

He said: "I don't really get disappointed with things. Sometimes there is rough with the smooth and I take it as it comes. Perseverance gets you through and these are just glitches.

"Of course I like my house but this is land and I am not doing anything that is not progressive and an evolvement of the area.

"In terms of people who oppose this, I do understand their views."

The father-of-four said 16 of the proposed flats would be affordable homes and the scheme would allow families on to the property ladder.

Steve Harmer-Strange, 45, who lives in The Upper Drive, was delighted at the planning decision.

The father-of-three, a training consultant, said his family had been worried about loss of privacy.

He said: "We use the house for therapy for my son because he is disabled and this will also cause problems in terms of sleeping.

"We are not against the site being developed but putting lots of flats up is totally out of character."

Retired lawyer Fay Green, 48, also of The Upper Drive, said: "The stuffing of so many flats into this space has resulted in the design of the affordable housing being appalling.

"The influx of masses of tiny flats will attract a greater number of single people than families.

"This serves to bring our dread of inner-city density a step closer."

The proposal included four four-storey blocks facing the street, containing 25 flats.

A fifth block with 16 affordable homes would have been tucked behind them.