The application, from the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, asked permission to demolish the old canteen at its Broadwater campus – formerly known as Northbrook College – and replace it with a two, three and four-storey block of flats.
Previously described as ‘hideous’ and ‘a curbuncle’ by members of the planning committee, the plans were deferred in August to allow the applicant to take another look at the design and scale of the building.
But at a meeting on Wednesday (November 25), members were less than impressed with the second attempt, with some pointing out that it was hardly any different from the first.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the college, with the Department for Education recommending the closure of one of its five campuses amid reports of ‘serious and deep-seated’ financial and quality issues.
The matter was raised several times during the meeting but, as it was not a planning issue, it could have no bearing on the committee’s decision.
In a message to the committee, MP Tim Loughton raised concerns about the loss of educational land and said the application was ‘all about maximising financial gain regardless of the knock-on effect on the area or the capacity of the college’.
He was not the only one to have this concern.
Val Turner (Con, Gaisford) feared allowing the development would set a precedent for other schools which may decide to build on their own land.
While the architect insisted they had ‘gone back to the drawing board’ on the design, the only real changes were to reduce the size and look of the top floor, change the cladding and allow for obscure glazing to prevent over-looking of homes in Carnegie Gardens.
Despite the changes, committee chairman Paul High (Con, Heene) made his feelings clear, saying: “I still don’t like the look of it. I still think it’s over-bearing for that area and too big a development for a tiny area.”
Other councillors agreed with him.
The only voice of support came from Martin McCabe (Lib Dem, Tarring), who said the design was an improvement, adding that he would rather see flats built on a site like this rather than one of Worthing’s open spaces.
The application was refused by six votes to one on the grounds that it was over-bearing, would be an over-development of the site and would have a detrimental effect on the character of the area.