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Gehry's Hove scheme caught in council row

Frank Gehry's much-maligned King Alfred scheme in Hove has found itself at the centre of a bitter dispute between council cabinet members.

The £300 million project has suffered difficult times ever since its inception. Despite winning backing to use the land, council members are still divided over the development.

Developer Karis was given the go-ahead to build on the council-owned site. But, to appease Green Party members, it was proposed to move some of the housing to another site to reduce the size of the scheme.

Conservative Party members rejected any amendment for the homes to be relocated, calling it 'worthless', and a stand-off ensued between the Green Party and the Tories.

Karis has agreed to look at alternative sites, but only if 'they are worthwhile'. The firm is following advice to apply for planning, and finds that politics are being used to 'muddy the waters'.

'We're not ignoring the amendment, we're not in a stand-off with the council, and we're not ignoring councillors. The advice has been to put in for planning, which we intend to do,' said Heather James of Karis.

'There has been a political divide over the plans, but the revised scheme was approved,' she added.

The scheme is worth millions to Brighton and Hove Council, and Conservative members are desperate to see its potential realised. But the Green Party continues to ask for a more 'modest' development.

Once registered by council officers, Gehry's scheme is believed to go in for planning by mid-December.

by Richard Vaughan

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