SENIOR councilors are being asked to approve a range of related land deals this week which could bring numerous new homes to two key locations in Brighton and Hove.
The houses would be built at the Royal Mail offices in North Road, Brighton and Denmark Villas, Hove, while a new distribution center would be built on set-aside farmland in Patcham.
If an agreement is reached, Brighton and Hove City Council would grant Royal Mail a long-term lease of Patcham Court Farm on Vale Avenue.
And the council’s joint housing company with Hyde Homes – known as Home for Brighton and Hove – would have four months to agree the terms of the purchase of the Royal Mail’s two existing premises.
If an agreement cannot be reached, it is expected that the Royal Mail will sell the two sites to the highest bidder.
The city council hopes that nearly 180 apartments could be built at the two sites, at least 40 percent of which are classified as affordable.
Earlier indications are that at least 110 apartments could be built on the North Road site, along with some commercial buildings on the ground floor.
With recent planning decisions allowing for a number of taller buildings, some are anticipating the possibility of even more apartments being earmarked for the two sites along with some offices.
A report to council members said: “The council has considered the acquisition of the two existing Royal Mail sorting office sites which will be vacated by Royal Mail following the development of the Patcham Court Farm site but have been unable to agree on any viable plans deliver.”
An initial decision is to be taken at a special meeting of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee at Hove Town Hall.
A report to the committee stated: “Patcham Court Farm is a 3.6 hectare strategic site. It was originally part of a larger farm and was separated from the main farm by the construction of the A27 Brighton bypass in 1989-90
“It includes a number of large buildings in disrepair and is heavily screened by existing trees and vegetation.
“The site has been undeveloped for over 30 years and is currently being used as an open-air storage facility.
“Since the early 1990s there have been eight attempts to redevelop the site with various feasibility studies and marketing campaigns undertaken to consider a range of uses such as park and ride, supermarket, offices and hotel.
“During this time, a number of unsolicited inquiries have been received from interested parties, including the Royal Mail proposal in 2018.
“The Council has since worked with Royal Mail to help them develop a program which will consolidate their existing sorting office services from their two sites at North Road, Brighton, and Denmark Villas, Hove, to the Patcham Court Farm site, thereby bringing about the closure of the two existing sorting office locations and their disposal for the new development can be facilitated.
“The consolidation of existing sorting office services from the two sorting office locations will allow employment on the Patcham Court Farm site and retain 100 per cent of the 362 Royal Mail jobs in the town.
“The relocation of the existing Royal Mail sorting services will remove vehicle movement from the city center as the Patcham Court Farm location has immediate access to the main road network.
“Basic vehicle movements into the city center will take place outside of peak hours.
“Royal Mail has developed a communication and engagement strategy to consult stakeholders and residents prior to submitting a full planning application.
“Local stakeholders and over 2,500 residents were invited to attend two webinars in January.
“General feedback indicated positive support for the site’s redevelopment, the building’s design, as well as its environmental and employment benefits.
“Concerns have been raised about the lack of information on traffic movements and the potential noise and parking problems the development could create.
“As a consequence, Royal Mail have met with Brighton and Hove City Council’s motorway team and National Highways and revised the location of the site access point to mitigate the impact on the local road network and surrounding properties.
“Onsite parking has been slightly increased and landscaping/sighting areas have also been improved.”
Earlier this year Conservative councilors in Patcham launched a petition against the proposals.
And two weeks ago, Royal Mail submitted a planning application to the council. It went live on the council’s website last week and has since received 118 objections and two supporting comments.
The special meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee is due to start at 2pm on Friday (29 July) in Hove Town Hall. The meeting will be webcast on the Council’s website.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20555815.brighton-hoves-royal-mail-sorting-office-move/?ref=rss Relocation of the Royal Mail sorting office from Brighton and Hove