Student village plans near Brighton Amex Stadium get go ahead

Plans to build a student village in a car park by the Amex Stadium have been given the go ahead at appeal.
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In a decision notice published last week, a planning inspector has approved proposals to build a 555-bedroom student housing complex at the former Bennett’s Field car park, adjacent to the Amex Stadium.

The scheme had been refused planning permission in October last year, with Lewes District Council planning officers raising concerns about its “substantial height, bulk and unsympathetic design”. They said this would have an impact on both the character of the immediate area and the South Downs National Park (SDNP).

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The inspector reached a different view, saying they were ‘not persuaded’ that the building’s design would harm the area. Moreover, they said its ‘curvilinear’ design responded positively to Amex Stadium in a way other nearby buildings do not.

An image showing how the Amex Stadium student housing would look. Picture: SubmittedAn image showing how the Amex Stadium student housing would look. Picture: Submitted
An image showing how the Amex Stadium student housing would look. Picture: Submitted

In their decision notice, the inspector said: “I have found that the development would not harm the character and appearance of the area, the setting of the SDNP, nor conflict with the Dark Skies Policy of the SDNP, and would preserve the setting of all the designated heritage assets in the vicinity.

“There is also support through the [National Planning Policy] Framework for the re-use of under-utilised land, especially where this would meet a need for housing where land supply is constrained, which includes building on car parks.

“Therefore, I conclude that there are no material considerations of such weight as to indicate that a decision be taken other than in accordance with the development plan. Therefore, the appeal is allowed.”

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While they overturned the council’s refusal, the inspector also dismissed an application for costs submitted by developer Downing Students (Brighton) LPI. This was because they had concluded the authority had not acted ‘unreasonably’ in coming to its original decision.

The now approved scheme proposes a H-shaped building, comprised of two six-storey elements, connected via a two-storey link. This link is expected to have a rooftop terrace. The buildings would accommodate 555 bedrooms for use by students, as well as ancillary amenity space.

For further information on the proposals see application reference LW/22/0175 on the Lewes District Council website.

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