Plans for a green housing scheme at the Hove end of Shoreham Harbour have been thrown out by planners.
The Portzed scheme in Basin Road North would be bulky, intrusive and overbearing, according to planning officer Guy Everest.
The scheme would also affect the level of light enjoyed in the homes opposite in Kingsway, members of Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee were told.
A proposal to include wind turbines between the six buildings that were proposed for the sight also attracted concern although the applicant, Harbour View Developments, had offered to withdraw these.
Colin Brace, from Harbour View, said afterwards: “Naturally we are disappointed. We have listened very carefully to what members of the planning committee and our neighbours have had to say.”
He said that he was determined to come back with proposals that would both prove acceptable and be an exemplar of sustainable development.
He was concerned that a government grant of £500,000 for a green business hub and visitor centre on the site would be put at risk by the planning committee’s decision.
But he vowed to do everything possible to keep the funding in place and push for the dozens of related jobs at the site and in the port that would flow from the Portzed scheme.
He did not rule out an appeal which would be decided by an independent planning inspector.
Earlier Mr Everest told the planning committee: “The sustainable credentials are welcomed and would set a benchmark for the future development of Shoreham Harbour.
“The economic benefits of the proposal are recognised but those benefits alone do not justify approval.”
Objector Valerie Paynter said that the developer should work with the port authorities to resite the six proposed buildings elsewhere in the harbour.
She said: “The scheme is not without merit. The rush to produce the first zero carbon development is exciting but it’s not a planning consideration and must not colour judgment.”
The scheme included 67 flats, including 26 “affordable” homes, and new premises for the Magnet showroom along with parking for customers and residents.
Architect Bill Dunster said: “Be careful what you wish for.”
He said that the six proposed buildings had gaps between them, letting through air and light.
But, he said, the developer may need to put up a building with a solid frontage like the one approved by the council for Britannia House, the site next door, if the scheme was to remain viable.
Harbour View Developments had offered to lower the height of the end buildings of its scheme as well as forgoing the wind turbines as a way of trying to meet residents’ concerns.
The council said that the changes were too substantial so required a fresh planning application.
Les Robinson, representing the owners of Mackley Wharf, another neighbouring site, said that Portzed without the wind turbines “would be like Hamlet without the prince”.
Conservative ward councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn told the meeting at Hove Town Hall: “It’s totally out of scale.”
He praised the scheme’s green credentials but added: “I don’t believe an area should be sacrificed on the alter of green credentials.”
Labour ward councillor Anne Pissaridou called it a carbuncle, echoing Prince Charles’s remarks about a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London.
Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote a letter of support, describing the project as groundbreaking and innovative. Unusually Friends of the Earth also backed the scheme along with 41 individuals who wrote in to the council.
But 155 people sent letters of objection and 363 signed a petition opposing it.
Mr Everest told councillors that the proposals were shaped when the council and port wanted high-density housing on the site. He indicated that more recently there had been a change of heart.
Several councillors highlighted positive aspects of the design and praised its green credentials but opposed the size and scale. They voted unanimously to refuse permission.
Phelim Mac Cafferty, chairman of the planning committee, said: “Clearly we don’t want to turn down schemes which deliver sustainable homes.
“However, in this case there was too much in conflict and unresolved to be able to approve.
“There was real concern about potential problems with noise from the wind turbines.
“There are limits in how far we can go with the height and bulk of buildings.
“We cannot ignore the fact such a development would have a big detrimental effect on the neighbourhood.
“While we need green homes we can’t have them at absolutely any price – a price paid by the neighbours in this case.”
The scheme was designed by Hove architect Alan Phillips working with Bill Dunster, from Zed Factory, who designed the pioneering Bedzed scheme in Beddington, London.
The “zed” in Bedzed and Portzed stands for zero energy development.