Brighton and Hove City Council is relaxing environmental ratings for offices

COUNCILORS have approved a lower ‘green’ rating for offices on the ground floor of an eight storey block of flats being built in Hove.

They agreed to relax demanding environmental certifications after planning officials said the requirement for an “excellent” rating had been inadvertently requested.

Work is underway on the building on nearly half an acre of land on Davigdor Road, Hove. It was formerly the site of the local offices of the Hyde Housing Association.

Developer Martin Homes has taken on the project since it received planning permission from Brighton and Hove City Council more than three years ago.

After taking on the project, Martin Homes approached Lewes expert consultancy Delta Green Environmental Design to help with sustainability measures.

Delta Green produced a report detailing the challenges in sourcing suitable recycled building materials for the office section of the £22m scheme.

As a result, the system would not be able to achieve an “excellent” rating – the second highest – below the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating.

BREEAM is a widely recognized method for assessing the sustainability of buildings, taking into account energy, materials, waste, pollution and water.

Martin Homes applied to the city council for permission to build the offices with a rating of ‘very good’ – the next higher – because it was the right way to overturn the previous ‘unrealistic’ decision.

Labor Councilor Clare Moonan spoke at a meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall.

Councilor Moonan said the committee’s decision in this case should be seen as an exception, adding: “It worries me that we are sending out signals that planning expects excellence and you are building too very well and getting away with it.

“Is that the thin end of the wedge and very good becomes good and good becomes average etc.?

“It really worries me because as a city we should always strive for excellence.

“It sounds like there is confusion in this case. I want to send a strong signal that this is a real exception.”

Green Councilman Leo Littman, chairman of the planning committee, asked about the requirement for an “excellent” rating for the new offices. He was told it was recorded in error.

READ MORE: Hove flats have been approved for the Palmer and Harvey site on Davigdor Road

And if the 52 apartments and the offices on the ground floor were continued according to plan, the project would still achieve the grade “very good”.

Councilman Littman said that after reviewing the regulations, planners could only ask for a “very good” rating for the offices.

He said: “This is not a relapse. This is an error correction. Only under these circumstances am I happy to support it.”

The panel unanimously approved the change to the terms of the offices being built for the Hove-based global exhibitions company Imex.

Imex wanted new premises to accommodate 30 more employees in addition to the 60 employees who were already working for the company when the building permit was granted in 2019. Brighton and Hove City Council is relaxing environmental ratings for offices

Fry Electronics Team

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