Anger in Whitehawk over Brighton and Hove housing plans

A woman in Whitehawk is upset that she and her neighbors have been rejected by council as it prepares to earmark land for housing in a sensitive location.

Residents wanted to personally tell councilors why they should protect a butterfly bank, but they are not allowed to speak.

Swanborough Drive resident Angela Al-Zeind rallied support from her community to try to remove a former playground from the second part of the town plan – Brighton and Hove City Council’s 10-year strategic planning plan.

The city plan is due to be submitted to a full council meeting for approval today, following a public consultation on the final draft that began in May.

In recent years, community groups have fought to have parts of the ‘urban fringes’ – green spaces on the outskirts of Brighton and Hove – removed from the city plan.

There have been campaigns to protect the Whitehawk Nature Reserve and the Benfield Valley, Patcham and Coldean sites.

One was successful, bringing protection for land in Patcham – next to the Horsdean Recreation Ground – which was scrapped from the plan by a government planning inspector.

Ms Al-Zeind said when she reached out to people to protect the green space in Whitehawk, many responded that the council didn’t care what they thought.

One of her frustrations is that yesterday there was a Planning For Real session entitled ‘In 10 years Swanborough Drive will be…’ which she said was too late.

Nature lovers and environmentalists are fighting to protect Whitehawk HillSwanborough Drive Butterfly Bank shortly after its inception in 2015

And the meeting was scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – a time when Ms. Al-Zeind and many of her neighbors are working.

She said: “There’s an evening but it shows what was done in the morning, so what’s the point? They didn’t listen to us because we can’t attend.

“It’s very frustrating that it’s not accessible.

“What should I do? Take a day off?”

When they reached out to the community to see how people felt about the proposals to build up to 39 homes in the reserve, many residents said they had no idea about the plans.

She wanted to lead a deputation to the City Council demanding that the site on Swanborough Drive be removed from the city plan.

But the council rejected their application because the city plan had “completed its consultation and public scrutiny” – and the vote was only to accept or reject it in its entirety.

Nature lovers and environmentalists are fighting to protect Whitehawk HillBenfield Valley Proposed Development Area

She said: “People didn’t have a chance to say anything because they didn’t know it was happening – and they didn’t know they could fight back.

“Everyone in Whitehawk feels like the Council doesn’t care about them.

“They look at them as the poor and overlooked who nobody cares about.

“It’s a terrible sense of community when you feel like the Council doesn’t care.

“That just confirmed it because there’s no point in fighting because they’re not going to listen to us anyway.”

Nature lovers and environmentalists are fighting to protect Whitehawk HillCyclists through Hawthorn in the Benfield Valley by Louise Yates

The council said: “The second part of the city plan has gone through four phases of public consultation and public scrutiny.

“A government inspector has concluded that, with some recommended changes, it meets all legal requirements, is in line with national planning policy and provides a reasonable basis for the city’s planning.

“The Council cannot now make any further changes to the plan.

“At the Council Plenary on Thursday 20th October we must agree to either accept it fully as it is, with the changes recommended by the Inspector, or to reject it.

“Of course, the residents are free to influence their council members whether they accept the plan or not.

“But we are unable to accept deputations to our full council meeting calling for a change.

“When the Part One City Plan was reviewed in 2013, the inspector directed the council to plan much more positively to meet as much of the city’s total housing needs as possible and ‘leave no stone unturned’.

“The minimum housing target of 13,200 new homes set in Part One of the plan meets just 44 percent of the city’s fully estimated housing needs (which were estimated at 30,000 back in 2015).

“This means that some plots on the outskirts of town will have to be allocated through the town plan part 2.

“The proposed sites account for 7 percent of the city’s outskirts. This means that the vast majority of these spaces will continue to be heavily protected.

“By allocating these locations and setting out clear requirements, the plan can ensure that the development will deliver housing that the city needs.

“This includes really affordable and family-friendly apartments that meet ambitious sustainability standards. It also ensures that developments create new freedom.

“Without such a plan, we risk losing local control over the ability to design and direct new developments and protect unallocated peripheries and green spaces.”

READ MORE: New plan identifies seven ‘strategic’ locations for housing

The council meeting starts at 4.30pm in Hove Town Hall.

The meeting will also be webcast on the Council’s website. Anger in Whitehawk over Brighton and Hove housing plans

Fry Electronics Team

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