Anger over Brighton and Hove City Council’s 10-year housing plan

A CONSERVATIVE councilor has criticized the Greens for failing to protect greenfield sites in their 10-year housing plan.

Councilor Samer Bagaeen, professor of planning, cited the latest census, which suggested Brighton and Hove’s population had changed little since 2011.

But Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing scheme – known as the town plan – is based on a higher population forecast and as a result the council has a bigger housing target.

To meet the target, Council has identified a number of controversial sites on the outskirts of Brighton and Hove – known as the urban fringes.

Several of them have spurred activists to protest outside of council meetings, while councilors and officials have drafted the second part of the city plan, which is due to be passed next month.

Cllr Bagaeen said the council had not listened to more than 6,000 residents who had signed four petitions opposing land in Whitehawk Hill Conservation Area and Coldean Lane for housing.

It also ignored Patcham residents, who managed to persuade a state planning inspector to protect land adjacent to the Horsdean Recreation Ground. The loss of habitat was thought to outweigh the benefit of 10 potential homes there.

Cllr Bagaeen said: “There are 900 apartments (scheduled) for the outskirts. As a council member, as a planner, and as someone who reads data, I realize that if these were removed from the second part of the city map, the plan would remain intact and be above the housing target.

“This council need not take the stance that it is taking on the land allocation for a small number of suburban housing. It is a conscious decision to do so.”

The Argus: Councilor Samer Bagaeen slammed the Green CouncilCouncilor Samer Bagaeen slammed the green council

But Green Councilman Leo Littman, chairman of the council’s planning committee, defended the city plan, which will guide officials and councilors in deciding building applications.

Councilman Littman said the guidelines laid out in the city plan would “protect what needs to be protected” for years to come.

It would give him and his colleagues a greater say in what gets built and what doesn’t — but without it, it would be easier for developers to recklessly ignore local residents’ views.

He spoke about the city plan at a meeting of the Council’s Tourism, Equality, Communities and Culture Committee at Brighton Town Hall last week.

Cllr Littman said, “I’m not saying the plan is perfect. Unfortunately, I think it’s far from perfect in at least one way.

“I would love it if we could protect every single blade of grass on the outskirts of the city from development – but we can’t.

“We have to face reality as we have a choice to protect some of our green urban fringes or none at all.

“Over the years, government-appointed inspectors have made it absolutely clear that peripheral urban development was required in addition to a large amount of proposed brownfield regeneration.

“The only choice we had was to accept small-scale development in the few greenfield spaces that we believe we can influence, or allow the developers unrestricted access to the outskirts.

Proposed Argus Development Area: Benfield ValleyBenfield Valley Proposed Development Area

“If in the future anyone suggests that Brighton and Hove Local Planning Authority wants to develop these sites, they will know that is not true.

“These locations were only singled out for development to convince state inspectors that our city plan is sound.”

Labor Councilor Alan Robins, former chair of the Tourism, Equality, Communities and Culture Committee, said it was frustrating when people asked why the council wasn’t redeveloping brownfield sites.

Cllr Robins said: “(We can) identify brownfield sites for development, but we don’t actually own them. We have no control over whether or not they are used. That’s worth mentioning.

“We don’t use the outskirts to develop while leaving wasteland empty.”

The second part of the map identifies seven ‘strategic’ locations for housing development, including Brighton General Hospital in Elm Grove and properties at New England Road, Brighton and Lyon Close, Hove.

The seven sites include the Sackville Trading Estate and the old coal yard in Hove, where planning permission has been granted for more than 800 homes and construction is underway.

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

The plan also includes 39 “brownfield” sites that are expected to provide at least 1,570 new homes and business opportunities.

The Greenfield sites – 16 in total – will house more than 900 homes on the outskirts of Brighton and Hove.

The plan also includes proposals to limit the “density” of shared apartments – or multi-occupancy houses (HMOs) – sometimes referred to as student residences.

Green and Labor councilors voted in favor of the plan but Cllr Bagaeen abstained.

It is due to be considered at a full council meeting on Thursday 20 October. Anger over Brighton and Hove City Council’s 10-year housing plan

Fry Electronics Team

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