From: Stuart Derwent
CPRE Sussex Countryside Trust: Brighton & Hove
March 8th 2014
Lightwood Property’s proposal for 315 houses between Woodingdean and Ovingdean is of real concern.
Part of the proposed development is within the Urban Fringe at the junction of Falmer and Ovingdean Roads. The second, behind Cowley and Ravenswood Drives is, astonishingly, in the South Downs National Park.
We have been working hard to protect the green space around the city, preventing sprawl and losing green space between settlements.
Now our Urban Fringes are under extreme pressure apparently driven by the Planning Inspector’s review of the draft City Plan Part One.
What on earth is going on?
The Council in their draft Local Development Framework, acknowledging their value, said “Urban Fringes” would be protected until at least 2020. Since then the draft City Plan has reduced protection and includes intensively developing Toads Hole Valley. However, it considered 11,300 homes “reflects the capacity and availability of land/sites in the city” - now the Planning Inspector appears to be setting a target of 20,000. To provide all those homes we must be creative. There are many brownfield sites available – both abandoned and still in use. Inevitably there will be strenuous efforts by developers to build over fields; it’s so much easier than on places with existing buildings or problems.
What planners think will happen to those sites remains beyond me. Will they still be derelict in 10, 20, 30 years time? More Anston Houses?
Putting brownfield first is crucial - to sort out the problems of the past, open up possibilities of regeneration using existing infrastructure, and make better use of limited space.
Unoccupied properties must be brought back into use – the Council appears to be doing this with its own, but what about privately owned ones? Are flats above shops all in use? Do we need all our current shops? Build over existing ugly open car parks?
The message to our Council is clear. Before resorting to building over irreplaceable open space:
- be bold
- develop brownfield first
- rebuild, re-use and renovate
- regenerate with vision and imagination
Make it a City we all want to live in.