Falmer hotel plan is scuppered

An architect's drawing of the Albion hotel SUS-160219-100226001
An architect's drawing of the Albion hotel SUS-160219-100226001

Albion’s proposals for a 150-bed hotel and cancer treatment centre next to the AMEX stadium were turned down by Brighton and Hove City Council - and the applicant said “we won’t be back”.

Council officers advised the planning committee to refuse the application over the design, and a row over financial contributions.

Speaking to the committee on Wednesday, Martin Perry, chief executive of Albion Sports and Leisure Limited: “The hotel is designed by the same people who designed the stadium. We’ve had overwhelming support; no objection from Lewes, no objections from Falmer residents. We already have planning permission on the site for a car park. Which is better, a hotel or a sea of tarmac? If this application is refused - we won’t be back, we can’t.”

But the plans were turned down, after five councillors voted in support of the scheme, and five against. Cllr Julie Cattell, chair of the planning committee, had the casting vote, and sided with officers.

Sue Dubberley, planning officer, said: “One of the issues is the design. The stadium was carefully designed to nestle into the curves of the surrounding South Downs. The rectangular and linear form of the hotel would distract from the stadium.”

There was also an issue over the section 106 agreement - the financial contribution from developers.

The city council requested £108,250 in section 106 money for transport and a Local Employment Scheme, but this figure had been reduced to £45,000. Ms Dubberley said the two parties had still not come to and agreement, and that conversations with the agent suggested developers believed they had already made significant contributions from the stadium development. Cllr Maggie Barradell said the row over section 106 money left “a sour taste in my mouth”.

Cllr Jackie O’Quinn, said: “I do find the building very stark and very utilitarian and for me, it doesn’t fit in with the stadium. It’s a great pity the applicants didn’t soften the edges, but they seem to have very strong views that it is 100 per cent okay.”

The application was set to go before Lewes District Council - as the site straddles the boundary of the two local authorities - but without the support of Brighton and Hove City Council, it cannot go ahead in its current form.

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