Co-op rebuild could house Sussex students
The University of Sussex has expressed its "keen interest" in a potential new student housing development in central Brighton.
Brighton & Hove residents have been invited to comment on a planning application by developer Watkin Jones to demolish the 80-year-old Co-op building in London Road, Brighton - which has stood empty for a number of years - and replace it with a building containing 407 student rooms.
The University's interest in the proposed six-storey development arises from a growth in student numbers, which in turn has increased demand for accommodation.
The new 777-bed Northfield residence forms part of the University's plan, supported by Brighton & Hove City Council, to maximise residential opportunities on campus. A further 180 rooms in Northfield are due be ready next May.
The University already owns and manages a wide variety of accommodation off campus, including the King's Road residence on Brighton seafront and several houses.
To meet the growing demand, however, other developments are necessary.
Charles Dudley, Director of Residential, Sport & Trading Services, says: "The design of the London Road site would enable us to offer housing to undergraduates and postgraduates who would otherwise be housed in the private sector.
"The proposed accommodation is ideally located close to the attractions of the city but with ease of access by public transport and cycle lanes to the Falmer campus."
A car-free development, the building would contain secure, covered storage for 126 bicycles.
The University's requirements for the site include some adapted accommodation for disabled students.
Under the plans, the building would be managed by a specialist student accommodation company but the University would expect to be responsible for the welfare of Sussex students living there and to be involved with community and neighbourhood relations.
When Watkin Jones held a consultation exhibition in May 2011, the general public supported the proposed building use, with four retail outlets on the ground floor and student accommodation above.
To comment on the developer's planning application, visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk (application number BH2011/02417), fax 01273 292099 or write to Development Control, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove BN3 3BQ.
If planning permission is granted (with a decision expected by the end of December), Watkin Jones could begin work on the development in the new year.