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Brighton pier schemes set to battle it out at public inquiry

The two competing schemes for Brighton's Grade I-listed West Pier are expected to go head-to-head in a public inquiry later this year.

KSS Sport and Leisure Design's plans - which won planning permission last week - are already subject to an Article 14 holding directive from the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), the usual preamble to a call-in. Both the government and local campaigners expect any planning inspector to demand to view Lomax Cassidy Edwards' alternative project, developed with Bennetts Associates, before deciding the pier's future.

This will be the first time that planners and locals will have had the opportunity to critically assess the two schemes side by side.

GOSE planning officer for Sussex Brendan O'Keeffe told the AJ that he would expect the planning inspector to request all alternatives and will 'effectively pick' which is the most appropriate.

'Inspectors have a duty not only to decide on the fate of the project but also the site, ' O'Keeffe said.

The Brighton Society - which will give evidence in opposition to the KSS scheme - will ensure the Lomax Cassidy Edwards (LCE) project gets a hearing. 'We believe that the KSS scheme is fatally flawed, ' society chair Selma Mitford said.

'And we will ensure the planning inspector can see both projects laid out in front of him.'

LCE director Nick Lomax welcomed the possibility of an inquiry, which, he said, would be a 'good opportunity to highlight the advantages' of the practice's alternative project and 'discuss the various merits'.

However, an insider at Brighton and Hove City Council's planning department told the AJ that local planners refuse to take the LCE scheme seriously. 'It doesn't have a cost, they do not know how they can fund it and they have not discussed it with English Heritage, ' he said. 'How can we be expected to treat it with any respect?'

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