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Greenfield Development and Open Spaces

The presence of open space allows decent existing homes in a neighbourhood which is otherwise very tightly packed:
Carelet
Giving up this open space to build opposite a Waste Transfer Station is detrimental to provision of decent housing. Carelet

Where do our politicians stand?
The by-election, on Thursday 8th July in which The Green Party retained its seat, gave residents in our Council ward (North Laine and St Peter's) the chance to question candidates from each of the main political parties.

There are already (1) Government and (2) Local Government policies which recognise the amenity of urban open space including privately owned plots which provide important visual amenity and sensible buffer zones between residential and industrial areas. Some Councils follow policies of this kind very closely (see examples of good practice in PPG 17 Companion Guide). However, these policies (protecting privately-owned open space of value to the community) are now being widely ignored in Brighton and Hove and very few local politicians are drawing attention to this neglect.

There would seem to be considerable need for local residents to remind their elected representatives of the guiding principles in paragraph 2.1 of the PPG 17 Companion Guide.

Open space needs - guiding principles
The first guiding principle states that:

Local needs are likely to vary considerably from one place to another, even within a single local authority area, according to the different socio-demographic and cultural
characteristics of local communities and the number and type of visitors.


The fourth and final guiding principle states that:

The value of open spaces or sport and recreation facilities, irrespective of who owns them, depends primarily on two things: the extent to which they meet clearly identified local needs and the wider benefits they generate for people, wildlife, biodiversity and the wider environment.

It is difficult to believe that planners in our Council's Development Control do not know paragraph 2.1 of the PPG17 companion guide. It is more likely that they are being pressurized by higher authorities obsessed with meeting housing targets whether homes are decent or not. This obsession has little to do with homes for life or sustainable development and those suffereing from it need to be prompted to think a little more deeply and long-term.

What we want local representatives to do
One elected local representative, in the neighbouring Preston Park ward, has proved willing to highligh concerns shared by local residents (in Preston Park, Round Hill and the Highcroft Villas) about loss of greenfield sites and lack of a PPG17-compliant open spaces policy.

Councillor Amy Kennedy has made a submission to the Council's Environment and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee, highlighting some of the following policies:

1. Government Guidance: PPG17 Paragraph 10

2. Saved policies from Brighton and Hove's Local Plan: if implemented policy QD20 would deny planning permission for any proposal that would result in the loss of areas of public or private open space that are important to people because of their recreational, community, historical, conservation, economic, wildlife, social or amenity value unless the proposal is of national importance or essential to meet social, environmental and/or economic needs, which cannot be located elsewhere. Likewise policy QD28 would oblige Carelet to find a brownfield site for their proposal instead of attempting to build on a sensitive greenfield site on the edge of The Round Hill Conservation area.

As with The General Election, the July 8th by-election and the Council Elections which will follow in the spring of 2011 provide opportunities to ask candidates who wish to become our political representatives whether they will value urban open space and existing policies which were created to protect it or whether they intend to continue the current duplicity of having policies and ignoring them.

Abandonment of Open Spaces Policy makes for atrocious Housing Policy, destroying the fabric of whole neighbourhoods
Currently, Brighton and Hove City Council is denying local residents the opportunity of Open Space Assessment, as recommended under PPG17 Diagram 1 and Paragraph 10 Government Planning Policy Guidance in relation to these sites.

Click here for a step-by-step description of how Councils should be involving local residents in Open Space Assessments and threats to greenfield sites.

On 22nd July 2009, Carelet's controversial application to build four 2-storey houses opposite our city's main Waste Transfer Station on a greenfield site adjacent to the Coastways railway corridor (itself a designated greenway), was approved by Brighton and Hove City Council's Planning Committee.

Carelet now wants to cram six 3-storey houses opposite the Waste Transfer Station
Carelet

Carelet

Instead of immediately going ahead with construction, the developer Carelet has now submitted an application BH2010/00083 for six 3-storey houses on the same poorly accessible plot of land, opposite facilities which have been causing problems of odour, noise and dust to neighbours located many times further from Hollingdean Depot.

How one bad decision helps another
The developer will have been encouraged by the Planning Inspectorate's decision to uphold another developer's Appeal against refusal by the Council of their application to build 4 houses on "land to the rear of 140-146 Springfield Rd" (and opposite platform 1 of London Road Station).
Springfield Road

Carelet's success in getting approval for four 2-storey houses on their greenfield site had a role to play in the unfortunate line taken by The Government's Planning Inspector, which makes a mockery of any attempt by Brighton and Hove City Council to work towards an Urban Biosphere through an Open Spaces Policy compliant with the Government's own PPG17 Planning Policy Guidance.
Springfield Road

Permitted development affecting the greenway opposite Platform 1 on London Road Station
Extract from recent APP/Q1445/A/09/2105969 Appeal Decision by P.W. Clark of The Government’s Planning Inspectorate, overturning The Council’s refusal of the application BH2008/03194 to build 4 houses on "land to the rear of 140-146 Springfield Rd" (and opposite platform 1 of London Road Station)

Springfield Road

Open space parameters

8. The site lies within an extensive area of railway cutting and embankment but it Is no more than a piece of surplus land adjacent to the operational railway. There is no public access to it, nor any use made of it. The wider open area extends on either side of the railway from a viaduct at its west end to a tunne) at its east end. It has London Road railway station at its centre. This is crossed by a public footbridge. The site lies on the north side of the railway, Immediately to the west of the public footbridge. It forms a small part of the overall open area.

9. At face value, Brighton and Hove Local Plan 2005 (the Local Plan) policy QD20 would deny planning permission for any proposal that would result in the loss of areas of public or private open space that are important to people because of their recreational, community, historical, conservation, economic, wildlife, social or amenity value unless the proposal is of national importance or essential to meet social, environmental and/or economic needs, which cannot be located elsewhere. Although criticised in the report of the Inspector who considered the objections to the Local Plan, the policy is adopted and the validity of the plan has not been challenged.

10. Likewise, government policy, set out in Planning Policy Guidance 17: Planning for open space, sport and recreation (PPG17), asserts that existing open space should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space or the buildings and land to be surplus to requirements.

11. In practice however, as made clear in the justification to its policy, the Council will seek to balance the competing claims of different land uses and the community's long term requirements for open space. I was referred to recent examples of this more pragmatic approach In decisions taken by the Council itself at 67-81 Princes Road, Brighton and in an appeal decision at 55 Highcroft Villas, Brighton (APP/Q1445/A/08/2081266). In accordance with both Local Plan policy QD20 and government policy in PPG17, that decision made a robust assessment of the value of the identified open space together with consultation with the local community. In order to gauge whether the land could be utilised for alternative purposes. I take the same approach.

END OF EXTRACT

Springfield Road

The development of the much valued open space opposite Platform 1 will make for atrocious housing policy to the detriment of the neighbourhood

Do you use platform 1?

Did your Council follow Planning Policy Guidance PPG17 Paragraph 10 by inviting you to participate in an assessment of the value of the open space opposite?

Have you asked the Council or your local Councillor why not?

Do you think that the greenway/open space along the sides of the railway corridor should be given up for new homes in spite of implications such as (a) loss of visual amenity and wildlife habitat and (b) requiring prospective residents to suffer a high volume of noise?
This page was last updated by Ted on 09-Jul-2010
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