Gardens & wildlife

RHS Minutes 2014-05-06

Minutes of the RHS meeting on Tuesday 6th May 2014

Present: Cath, Deborah, Barbara, Sandy, Ted, Jan, Carol, Rob. Plus PCSO Bonnie, Maude Casey, Sally and Paul from Belton Road, Lesley Inch and Sophie Buckland Media Studies students from UoB, and Cllr Pete West.

Apologies from Annie, Boo and Kate.

The Minutes of the last meeting were approved and we thanked Cath and Boo for the excellent street play event attended by over 40 children.

Next meeting will be at Jan's (58 Richmond Road) at 8pm on Tuesday 10th June.

Pete West gave us the background to recent waste and recycling collection problems, which sprang from a massive revision of collection routes, and terms and conditions of work, to bring about pay equality for all Council employees. This resulted in a lot of disruption, in which refuse collection had to be prioritised over recycling, leading to further chaos, but its nearly sorted now (he said). Recycling is now to be prioritised and incentivised. Communal waste bin areas will soon get communal recycling bins, and a scheme is to be established to make savings gained from rising recycling rates available to community groups. We asked how the Council can address the issue of people leaving bins, bags and boxes on the pavement all the time, and there was no answer. We decided to have Autumn Reporter on these issues, and hope to influence residents through it. Pete hopes that a rat-proof composers (Green Joanna) suitable for all food waste will be available at a subsidised price, because waste food collection is unlikely to be economic; typically only 16% of households get involved where it exists. Community composting is also being encouraged - operated and managed by residents for residents – 500 households already involved across the city. Bulky waste pricing was criticised by Rob but the service was praised by Maude.

29th June play-street and street picnic events: Cath reported that street closure applications have been submitted. Better barriers, marshalls in hi-viz and extra folk to talk to visitors will all help next play-street event. We will complete planning for picnic at next meeting.

Bike cabinets: Cost between £3000 and £5000 for storing 6 bikes. Might be viable if users pay for use, and a funding stream appears. Pete West will investigate when Cath contacts him and Cllr Davey.

Renewable Energy for Round Hill: Maude Casey lives in Round Hill and was involved in the Balcombe anti-fracking actions last year. She learnt that the village has made itself independent of the grid for electricity through investing in photovoltaics. We could do the same, lots of potential roofs (Sainsburys, Veolia, Downs Schools, Centenary Industrial Estate, Mayo Court as well as private houses). Will from Brighton Energy Co-op is willing to advise us. With the right structures in place he can negotiate with owners and we will have to find 10% of installation costs at some point, but should see costs more than met by income. Maude will provide info to Ted who will put details on RHS website. PV on Richmond House development was mentioned – as an element of planning gain.

Belton Road backland development: The developer has withdrawn his original application and is now relying on recent legislation which allows conversion from offices (use class B1) to residential to be permitted development (thus not requiring full planning approval). The Council has not faced one of these before and the officers are being very cautious. This has upset folk, but Cllr West suggests we wait and see, all may not be as dark as it may appear. Meanwhile we need to get in letters drawing attention to the failure of the application to meet the permitted development requirements – it was not in 'office' use at 30th May 2013, but Financial and Professional services (use class A2) – by the end of this week.

Planters for Round Hill: All 4 giant planters should be installed and filled with soil on Saturday 10th May. Chris and Tina Groom and their son will do all the hard work, but if a few folk could attend for a few hours they could help keep the passing public at a safe distance. The action is at each end of Round Hill Crescent.

Richmond House update: Sandy told us that the Inspector will complete her hearing from 10am on 20th May at the Clermont Hotel at 13 Second Avenue. In the afternoon she will conduct a site visit. It is important that as many people attend both events and raise their objections, or put forward conditions to mitigate the development should it go ahead. E-mails can be sent to the Inspector's PA, at Debbie.Smith@pins.gsi.gov.uk, quoting ref APP/Q1445/A/13/2210775.

University of Brighton students: Lesley and Sophie explained their project is to explore our community group and the Play Street and other events. They also will write piece for the June Reporter about the first play street event, and they filmed/interviewed several of us there and then. Much will be on line and Ted will build links from our website. “I've never met a community like this one before.” said one of the students, and we think it was meant in a good way.

AOB: Rob described an idea for more CUPP funding - a research project comparing HMOs with o/o houses for streetscene quality, security and energy efficiency. Could tie in with recent 'Home Sweet Home' initiative where students and residents have been looking at the quality of student housing. The meeting agreed to let Rob pursue the idea .

The launch party events on the Level take place on 14th June 10 to 6pm. DRARA is celebrating 150 years of the Brighton to Seaford railway at London Road station on 7th June.

Sussex Festival of Nature happens in Stanmer Park on 20th June.

Whilst we did not cover the content for the next Reporter, here is a list of planned items:

  • Report of first Streetplay (UoB students to write) plus photos,
  • Publicity for Picnic and next Streetplay (WHO is writing this??),
  • Planters saga, with pictures
  • Obituary for Vi Fairhall of Mayo Road,
  • Belton Rd backland story, any pictures of the site?
  • Open Market open, plus other recent London Rd changes
  • Level Opening events and volunteers still sought to join local 'friends of' group,
  • B&H in Bloom, last chance to enter you front garden/ hanging baskets.

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