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News Release issued, Thursday, 10 July, 2014

Green light to urban fringe development a mistake

Photo opportunity:  1.30pm, outside Hove Town Hall, Friday 11 July.  Groups / public to demonstrate about Council’s threat to urban fringe

Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is calling on Brighton & Hove City Council to pull back from making a serious mistake with its proposed modifications to the City Plan.  These are due to be considered at Policy & Resources Committee tomorrow [1].  BHFOE is particularly concerned about the proposed amendments to the urban fringe Policy SA4 [2] which would allow development to take place on any proposed housing site listed in the Urban Fringe Assessment [3].  This is before the proposals have been scrutinised and the sites allocated for development.

BHFOE understands the pressure the Council is under to get the City Plan approved, and it also recognises that there will be some sites in the urban fringe suitable for development.  However, it is concerned that in the haste to proceed, the Council could make a terrible mistake.

Chris Todd from BHFOE said:

“Sites are not meant to be allocated for development until Part 2 of the City Plan, at a much later date.  Yet the Council’s proposed new policy would allow development to take place on any site listed in the Urban Fringe Assessment as soon as Part 1 of the City Plan is adopted.  In effect, setting in stone the right to develop all of these sites before the case for doing so has been scrutinised.

“Therefore the Council’s promise that there would be a consultation on allocating the sites at a later date is worthless.

“The Council needs to step back from the brink and amend what it is proposing.  Otherwise it will be making a grave mistake and sites wrongly assessed in the Urban Fringe Assessment could be lost forever.”

[1]   BHCC’s Policy & Resources Committee meets at 2pm, Friday, 11 July, 2014 in the Council Chamber at Hove Town Hall, to discuss the proposed modifications to the City Plan, which includes amending the amount of housing across the whole city, not just the urban fringe.

[2]   The Council is recommending changing the policy on the urban fringe (SA4) to the following:

Development within the urban fringe will be permitted where:

a) a site has been allocated for development in a development plan document; or

b) a site (or part of a site) has been identified in the 2014 Urban Fringe Assessment Study as having potential for residential development; or

c) a countryside location can be justified;

and where it can be clearly demonstrated that:

d) the proposal has had regard to the downland landscape setting of the city;

e) all any adverse impacts of development are minimised and appropriately mitigated and/or compensated for; and

f) where appropriate, the proposal helps to achieve the policy objectives set out above.

       [the bold section is the new wording proposed to be inserted into the policy]

BHFOE wants b) above deleted as it believes it is premature and will prejudice which sites will be developed before there has been any scrutiny of the Urban Fringe Assessment or before they are considered in Part 2 of the City Plan.

Part a) already covers allowing development to take place once a site has been allocated for development.  Therefore there is no need to insert this new part b).  The proposed supporting text for the policy sets the context perfectly adequately.

[3]        The Brighton & Hove Urban Fringe Assessment, by consultants LUC, has been produced without any stakeholder involvement nor has it been subject to public scrutiny to test whether its recommendations are sound.  BHFOE is aware of at least 2 sites where the sites appear to have been allocated under false premises.

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