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Council bows to developers in Gehry's King Alfred scheme

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Brighton and Hove City Council has been forced to back down over Frank Gehry's £300 million King Alfred scheme, after it was threatened with legal action by the developers.

The Conservative-led planning committee voted to take control of the Section 106 decisions away from council officers at last week's council meeting, sparking outrage and a solicitor's letter from developers Karis Holdings and ING Real Estate, who accused the council of stalling tactics and acting illegally ( Gehry's King Alfred scheme faces last minute setback ).

The Conservative leader of the council, Brian Oxley, has now called a 'special meeting' to consider signing off the Section 106 agreements to avoid any further 'delay and speculation about the project'.

In a statement issued by the council, Oxley said: 'Sufficient progress had been made in the three days leading up to the last planning committee that the developers were asking for the Section 106 agreement to be signed immediately.

'The redevelopment proposals have generated a huge amount of local feeling, so I felt honour-bound to make sure councillors were given the opportunity to consider the detail of the Section 106 legal agreement, rather than leaving the responsibility to officers.

'We understand our contractual commitments to the developers and have no intention of trying to break the terms of the agreement.'

Oxley added: 'I believe the extra time we are taking to make sure that this decision isn't rushed, and that councillors have the time they need to get the appropriate legal advice from officers, is a very sensible investment in the future of our city.'

A statement issued by Karis said: 'Karis Holdings welcomes the council's statement and its commitment to an early resolution to approving the Section 106 at a special meeting next week.

'The council has had the further time it wanted to review the detail of the significant benefits that the Section 106 brings to the city and we understand that it is now satisfied that we can all press ahead with the full planning consent.'

by Richard Vaughan

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