A MULTIMILLION pound development creating hundreds of homes, a new secondary school and a business park could be built on a key city site.

Developers have revealed a vision to turn Toads Hole Valley in Hove into a “new community” of homes, shops and offices.

Council bosses and business leaders have welcomed the proposals but opponents say the plans would leave a “hideous blot on the landscape”.

Battle lines have been drawn on whether Brighton and Hove City Council should include the site in the City Plan, which will guide development in the city until 2030.

Before the views of thousands of people are considered, The Argus can exclusively reveal the first plans for the 40 hectare triangular site, which borders King George VI Avenue, the A27 and Downland Drive.

The blueprint, drawn up by architects who have been working with the owners, includes a new residential neighbourhood of 750 homes, a ‘community hub’ of shops, leisure and health facilities and a business park with space for about 900 jobs.

As part of the plan, “inappropriate vegetation” would be removed from the steep western side of the valley to make way for a new Ecology Park and improved cycle routes to the South Downs.

At the foot of the hill a secondary school with an “inspirational learning environment” would be built to serve the new community.

King George VI Avenue would be replaced with a new “linear greenway” for cyclists and families with traffic redirected around the north edge of the plot.

To the east, a business park with 25,000m² floorspace would be built close to the junction with the A27 to form “a new gateway” to Brighton and Hove.

At the centre of the development would be tree-lined residential streets with “informal open spaces”, designed to discourage car use.

The whole development would be based around the principles of One Planet Living, an eco-philosophy designed to cut people’s carbon footprint.

But with hundreds of residents campaigning against plans to build on the “green lung”, the developers have a fight on their hands before building work can begin.

Conservative councillors Vanessa Brown and Jayne Bennett , who both represent Hove Park, have been vocal opponents of development in Toads Hole Valley for years.

Coun Brown said: “I cannot see why a supposedly Green administration would want to concrete over one of the last urban fringe sites in our city.

“I think these plans would leave a hideous blot on a beautiful landscape. We should be concentrating on the brownfield sites instead.

“The vast majority of residents here are absolutely appalled by these plans.”

But Tony Mernagh, chief executive of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, welcomed the blueprint and said it was “just what our city deserves”.

He said: “The first thing to say is that this is a long way from happening – there isn’t a lot of detail yet.

“But it’s a fantastic scheme that would help address three of the main problems this city faces – our housing shortage, our lack of school places and our lack of high quality business space.

“It would also improve the lives of residents nearby.”

Martin Carpenter, planning director of Tunbridge Wells-based Enplan, which has been working with the owners, drafted the plan.

He said: “We realise the critical importance of this land resource for the city’s future and the exciting potential it has for local communities when it is opened up and put to a positive use.

“Our vision is to create a new and mixed-use neighbourhood, that is well integrated with the adjoining communities and an exemplar of sustainable living, working, learning and enjoyment for the benefit of the city’s residents both present and in the future. “This is definitely not a final or fixed plan, but is designed to enable and encourage discussions. “We intend to consult widely on this over the coming months and use the feedback to further the development of a more detailed masterplan.”

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “I’m very excited the proposal in this area is being developed according to One Planet Living principles and bringing high-quality housing for the city.

“It’s the last space in the city. It would complete the city.

“I understand people will see it as losing green space but in reality access is prevented.

“We’re not the ones developing it but we’re aware it has been privately owned for decades and they have the intention of developing it.

“By including it in the City Plan we have some control over what goes on the site.”

Coun Kitcat said planning and procurement details were left to the developers but he hoped building could start by 2015.

For more details visit www.toadsholevalley.co.uk.

What do you think of the plan? Tell us by writing to our letters page, emailing letters@theargus.co.uk or leaving a comment at theargus.co.uk/news