The Economic Partnership raised a number of concerns in February 2011 when hotel group De Vere was named as the preferred bidder for a 125 year lease on Patcham Court Farm - a development site on the outskirts of the city. After supposedly paying a holding deposit on the deal they have now backed out and the site is going back to the market.
The sale of a long lease to De Vere Village Hotels for a 128 bed hotel [see earlier story] contravened a range of strategies and was deemed by the Economic Partnership to be such a poor strategic use of land that it asked the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee to review the implications of the decision.
Given the dire shortage of brownfield and other development land in the city, the Partnership asked a range of questions about the deal including:
- Will a hotel on the A23/A27 junction benefit the wider city economy?
- Will the jobs created be largely low-paid entry level positions and is that what the city needs?
- Is this the best strategic use of the land and could selling to the second bidder have delivered a better result for the long-term future of the city?
- Are there other sites earmarked for uses outside the Local Plan that could be allocated more strategically?
The subsequent Scrutiny Committee, which has yet to publish its report, raised more questions than it answered. At a meeting of the Economic Partnership in January it was agreed to keep a watching brief and object to the planning application for the new hotel if it was felt that it continued to offer inferior strategic value.
The subject will return to the Partnership agenda for its July meeting.
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Brighton & Hove City Council
Patcham Court Farm