Gardens & wildlife

Landscaping Round Hill

The site of Veolia's Materials Recovery Facility and Waste Transfer Station will only be landscaped to the west side.
a Dump with no landscaping
There is no scheme for landscaping on the site to screen the Round Hill Conservation Area, especially residents living on or using the north side of Princes Road, from the intensification of development (i.e. the Dump) on the Hollingdean Depot site.

People walking up Princes Road (from the Mayo Road end) get stark views of The Waste Transfer Station. There is almost a straight drop down to the Centenary Industrial Estate behind the fencing, though there might be sufficient embankment for planting a screen of trees or some ivy (as seen on the north side of Richmond Rd when approaching D'Aubigny Road).

a Dump with no landscaping
Sadly, a perfectly good clump of trees on the eastern border of Carelet's greenfield site, which would have screened the Waste Transfer Station, were felled by the developer (mainly on 13-14th June 2005), who succeeded in getting 5 out of 6 tree applications approved by Brighton and Hove City Council's arboricultural service.

The Materials Recovery Facility could easily be screened if the green boundary and trees removed in 2005 by Carelet along the eastern border of their greenfield site (above picture was taken in August 2004) could be re-instated.

Tree cover on Carelet's main freehold in 2004
Trees which would have screened the Materials Recovery Facility were felled by Carelet
(above) Tree cover on Carelet's main freehold in 2008
following Carelet's felling (below) on 13-14th June 2005

Trees which would have screened the Materials Recovery Facility were felled by Carelet

Instead of approving any more of Carelet's Tree Applications, we urge the Council to comply with Diagram 1 Redevelopment of an existing open space and Paragraph 10 of The Government's PPG17 Guidance and consult local residents on the value of this open space. Neither has the promise of a PPG17-compliant assessment been fulfilled, nor has there been any transparency over the planning status of Carelet's main freehold, which would mean applying the planning obligations RE greenfield development in policy QD28 3.123 (scroll to the foot of the PDF doc) of our Local Plan.

In objecting to the MRF and the WTS, The Brighton Society described the installations as "basic metal sheds, the cheapest form of building" and observed that the proposed Grey colour would be out of keeping with the area. As if the buildings were not enough of an eyesore, they will be encircled by 44-tonne trucks proceeding in a figure-8 formation, therefore coming deep into the site right alongside the southern boundary where there is no landscaping at all - and just opposite where Carelet proposes to locate 8 homes.

All Bare On The Southern Flank but certainly not Quiet

"Minded to grant", but no mention of cramming and absence of landscaping
The Case Officer told the elected Councillors, who decided the outcome of Veolia's Hollingdean Depot proposal, that she was "minded to grant planning proposal" on the Plans List prepared for their information and guidance. However, she recently told a Round Hill resident who overlooks the site: "I was extremely disappointed that the Council as landlord didn't give more land" and that given the size of the facility they'd had to deliver, it was "extremely tight". She added that the situation regarding landscaping on the southern side was "not ideal", but not sufficient reason to refuse the application. If only the Case Officer's disappointment about inadequate space for landscaping had been included on the Plans List of 19 June 2006, the Planning Applications Sub-Committee Members would have had their own chance to consider whether these drawbacks were sufficiently serious for them to throw out the proposal and to tell Veolia to go back to the drawing board.

The Proximity Principle
We were told that one of the reasons why Hollingdean Depot was shortlisted for both the Waste Transfer Station and The Materials Recovery Facility was the proximity principle. The proximity principle proposes that waste should be treated/disposed of as close to its place of origin as possible. The proximity principle helps to raise awareness in local communities that the waste they produce is a problem, of which they should take ownership.

It is your waste so deal with it within your own backyard
Will an eyesore with no landscaping on at least two of its flanks encourage the residents who overlook it (and perhaps others in Brighton and Hove who don't) to reduce their waste by making better choices in what they buy and composting more?

The Contract
Did the Council sign a contract with Veolia which would reward good environmental practice by those living next to a Dump in the middle of a conurbation?

If Veolia does not get enough from us they will get it from elsewhere
No. The contract is very clear that capacity is Veolia's, after contract waste obligations have been honoured. If Veolia doesn't get enough waste from us, they can maintain the permitted capacity of their Hollingdean Depot and Newhaven operations by importing it from elsewhere.

Should we make the Dump and the Incinerator our own by producing as much black bag waste as possible?
No, that would not help the global environment and these eyesores would remain. Rob from Magpie, urges local residents to continue good environmental practice. He observes that the Local Authority would gain nothing from underfeeding the Newhaven Incinerator and would then become more interested in the poor economics of their PFI with Veolia. Rob favours a system of direct charging for waste (i.e. residents are charged for the quantity they put out) which is now part of DEFRA's Waste Strategy Review. We should be campaigning for this as well as pushing the Council to renegotiate the waste contract.

Only landscaped on the western front
Landscaping plan for MRF and WTS
Veolia's landscaping drawings - planting plan, submitted in March 2006 (well before application was recommended for approval by Brighton and Hove City Council's Development Control) shows that nearly all the provision Veolia has made for landscaping (marked in green shading in the diagram) is on the west side of their site.

Practically all their proposed native planting infilling amongst the retained planting (see 1 on the plan) benefits residents on the Ditchling Rd and top of Upper Hollingdean Rd sides, including the house in Hollingdean Lane, the Downs Infants School and the residents living (on lower floors) in the tall flats.

In the plan, four groups of trees (marked with a figure 2) along the northern embankment of the Coastways railway directly to the south of Hollingdean Depot are encircled in brown ink and labelled existing soft landscaping in the absence of any proposed landscaping on Veolia's side of the fence.

Since the approval of Veolia's application, Network Rail has cut all these trees down. The Round Hill Society has learnt that the Council's arboriculturalist met with Veolia before the Hollingdean site was cleared to express concerns about the safety of the trees along the northern railway embankment to the south of the site. Veolia then spoke to Network Rail highlighting the problem and it was out of the arboriculturalist's hands when the trees were cut down. Network Rail is entitled to fell trees when there are safety concerns. The pummelling by heavy machinery to prepare the Hollingdean Depot site for Veolia's installations raised legitimate concerns.
Group on section of track embankment north of Princes Rd summit felled a few weeks ago
The Case Officer knew about safety concerns regarding the railway trees several weeks before Veolia's application was passed
Also in March 2006, four submissions were made to the Council from the arboriculturalist commissioned by Veolia. These provided an inventory of the trees on and near the proposed development site. Safety issues concerning the railway trees would have been evident to the Council well before the Meeting of the Planning Applications Sub-Committee on 19th June 2006 when Veolia's proposals were approved.

Were the Sub-Committee Members who passed Veolia's proposal adequately briefed about the pitiful lack of landscaping?
The section on LANDSCAPING (Page 27 of The Plans List offered to the Planning Applications Sub-Committee Members for information and guidance), refers by name to (1) the proposed landscape plan and (2) arboricultural report, stating that Veolia's application indicates that certain trees are to be retained as part of the development. The Councillors were told that "The mature screen on the western boundary of the site will be substantially retained and if trees need to be removed in places, they will be replaced."

It was not made clear to the Councillors, before they took their decision, that there would be a total absence of landscaping on the southern flank of Veolia's site, because for safety reasons (in the context of construction) those on Network Rail's northern embankment would need to come down.

The Council's Case Officer tells us that Network Rail would have felled the trees anyway. Residents who watched Network Rail replace the section of track adjacent to the Dump, earlier this year, would not doubt that this was the case.

Track renewal by Network Rail in May 2007
However, it therefore follows that Veolia's landscaping drawings - planting plan, referred to in the Plans List, was defective. Why wasn't this pointed out?
Was the Council 'in the dark' about defects in Veolia's scheme relating to landscaping?
The Council's Development Control reject the charge that they knowingly approved a landscaping drawings - planting plan which relied on landscaping (unsafe trees) on land, outside the proposed development site, belonging to someone else (Network Rail!).

They were aware of the planting plan's defects all along - its main weakness being that there was no room for planting. They freely admit that there was never any room for landscaping anyway on the southern flank. In the case officer's recent words to a local neighbour (which came too late for the information and guidance given to the Planning Applications Sub-Committee) there was "no space on that boundary".

Development Control has set two planning conditions, which require ongoing consideration of landscaping, but if there is "no space on the southern boundary for landscaping", then none of these conditions help.

Grandstand view of main lorry entrance and Waste Transfer Station for many Princes Rd residents

Residents living to the south of their site will get a grandstand view of:
(a) 44-tonne lorries accessing their new unloading/loading bays and
(b) the buildings themselves i.e. "basic metal sheds, the cheapest form of building...proposed Grey colour out of keeping with the area" in the words of The Brighton Society, who objected to the scheme.

With no landscaping on the southern flank of the development site itself, residents who are lucky enough to have a screen of trees on the higher embankment, south of the track, are at the mercy of Network Rail. Many sycamores on this side, notable those adjacent to Carelet's greenfield site, have been reduced to short stumps. This strategic site, which screens and separates the built-area of Round Hill from two industrial estates, used to benefit from lines/groupings of trees on both northern and southern railway embankments. Network Rail has removed the trees on both sides:
Group on section of track embankment north of Greenfield site owned by Carelet itself running to the north of 69 to 81 Princes Rd felled a few weeks ago

The developer, Carelet, has not helped matters in opening up a gap looking into the Centenary Industrial Estate by felling trees within its own site.
Under planning policy guidance PPG17 paragraph 10 an assessment of the value of the site as an open space is needed before a planning application is even registered

It is imperative that no more tree felling is permitted within Carelet's main freehold. In fact, there is space here to restore the lost boundary features of the conservation area by replanting within this important greenfield site:
action needed to restore tree lines and boundary features on this important greenfield site
Residents are determined to prevent the loss of this open space to further development. Upheaval of the type we are witnessing on the other side of the track would not be acceptable in Princes Road.

One of the first ways to mitigate the effects of a controversial Dump is to reduce its visual impact through landscaping.

44-tonne trucks moving around the MRF and WTS in a figure-8 formation will pass right up to the southern perimeter of Veolia's site, just a few metres from residents back gardens on the other side of the railway. The views from many back gardens, particulary those to the NE of Princes Rd adjacent to the main lorry entrance and Waste Transfer Station, will be stark.

What can be done now?.
Di Morgan of The Council's Arboricultural Service confirmed, in a recent discussion with a concerned local resident, that trees do help to reduce noise. Local resident, Simon Biddell, who contacted the Council recently to complain about the noise from weekend working, described Hollingdean Depot as a natural amphitheatre:
a natural amphitheatre
Reducing the visual impact of a Waste Transfer Station has to have aesthetic and psychological benefits too.
reducing the visual impact creates a greater feeling of well being
The problem is where to plant the trees. The Round Hill Society's objection to Veolia's Hollingdean Depot scheme focused on the need to split the two large installations between different sites. The Council permitted a crammed development on a single site. We have a strong case to press for any remedial action that can be taken, though anything we ask of the Council to provide of material benefit will need to come from the public purse. We can still ask the Council to play the role of facilitator, since tree plantings/sitings will need to be approved. We have to look for sensible opportunities to repair the railway corridor, which believe it or not is part of a designated greenway.

Use the greenfield site currently owned by Carelet for replanting
Demand landscaping on this strategic open space within the NE boundary of our conservation area

Withdraw the principle of development and this site will be available for much needed landscaping which cannot go anywhere else
The part of the greenway in most need of repair is adjacent to previously undeveloped land which is currently Carelet's main freehold - a greenfield site since there is no dwelling within the curtilage of the land.

Under Government Planning Guidance PPG17 diagram 1 and paragraph 10, the value and potential value of this open space should be assessed BEFORE any development proposal is even considered. The survey, recommended under Government Guidance PPG17, offers local residents the chance of having an "open space vision" for this greenfield site, and to emphasize its value (as undeveloped and inaccessible open space on private land) to the community.

The importance of this open space could be argued in several ways, though one major consideration is its strategic location on the NE boundary of Round Hill. Carelet's main freehold is one of the only locations where there is room for re-planting. It would be possible not only to restore the screen of trees which separated Round Hill from both Hollingdean Depot and the Centenary Industrial Estate, but also to enhance the landscaping by setting it well back from the Coastways railway, so that suitable trees were safe from Network Rail's chain-saws and did not compromise the safety of the railway.

All that the Council needs to do is to WITHDRAW THE PRINCIPLE OF DEVELOPMENT on this greenfield site, which it should do anyway under QD 28 (Planning Obligations RE greenfield development) of the Local Plan.

Policy (QD 28 Planning Obligations) 3.118 from Brighton and Hove City Council's Local Plan:

"This council attaches the highest priority to the protection of previously undeveloped (greenfield) land. Previously built on (brownfield) land must therefore be developed in preference to previously undeveloped (greenfield) land. If an applicant seeks to develop a greenfield site they will be expected to demonstrate that there are no alternative brownfield sites that could meet their requirements."

Once THE PRINCIPLE OF DEVELOPMENT on this greenfield site has been ruled out altogether, Carelet would immediately lose interest in this plot. It would be obvious for the next owner to erect a screen of sensibly selected and located trees, which would reduce noise from both the railway and industrial activity to the north and east.

The organisations which may be able to provide material help are Veolia and Network Rail
Veolia has a fund known as The Veolia Environmental Trust and the Council's Case Officer suggest that we might ask for monies for trees to restore the larger sections of railway embankment.

It is also worth looking to Network Rail for a contribution to the repair of our greenway, to be made when Veolia's construction works are finished. Network Rail has a code of practice in relation to environmental concerns and occasionally makes reparations. In the light of all the tree felling they have had to do and the monstrosity we are trying to landscape, they may be persuaded to help.

Residents (and indeed Council Planners) were very unhappy about the felling Network Rail did (on safety grounds) a year or two ago involving the sycamore trees to the north of the greenfield site (off the NE of Princes Rd) currently owned by Carelet. The felled sycamores were quite close to the track, so it would probably be unwise to ask for replacement trees along the same strip.

However, there are suitable sites to the north of the track in the direction of the Hollingdean Rd railway bridge (slighly east of Princes Road) which could be used to repair the greenway. Suitable trees planted along this strip could also help to improve air quality in the proximity of a known Air Quality Management Area, which is soon to gain a fleet of 44-tonne lorries.

It should be noted that Council Planners recently REFUSED an application for high density residential development on the former Esso site development in Hollingdean Rd on the grounds that new residents would be introduced to an Air Quality Management Area.

Wildlife (birds) are owed some nesting opportunities to compensate for all the tree-felling performed along this part of our greenway in recent years.

Is it worth the effort?
action needed to restore tree lines and boundary features

Enough of the greenway is still intact to make the open spaces at the NE border of the Round Hill Conservation Area worth protecting. In a recent feature on Princes Road, published in the Argus, one resident described the west end of Princes Road as "the city", but said that as he travelled eastwards, crossing the summit of Princes Rd, he had the feeling of "the country". The former Esso site development proposal, which would have destroyed the public viewpoint at the junction of Richmond Rd and D'Aubigny Rd (looking towards Wild Park and Coldean Wood) was also REFUSED because of the adverse impact it would have on the Round Hill Conservation Area.
View out of Round Hill towards Wild Park and Coldean Wood in the direction of Stanmer Park
The success of recent campaigns where local residents have raised their voices (e.g. RE proposals for tall buildings within or adjoining Round Hill) indicates that many Council Planners are willing to listen and do respond to our requests. The greenfield site to the NE of Princes Road, currently owned by the developer Carelet, remains a vital buffer zone, separating the built-area of Round Hill from the intensification of Hollingdean Depot and the Centenary Industrial Estate.

Greenfield site to the NE of Princes Road currently owned by the developer Carelet is a vital buffer zone separating the built area of Round Hill from the intensification of Hollingdean Depot and the Centenary Industrial Estate
Veolia and Network Rail have opportunities to listen and respond to the interests of our community as well. The degree of local concern will probably determine the response. It would not set these organisations back too much to make some neighbourly gestures.

Useful contacts
The Veolia Environmental Trust
action needed to restore tree lines and boundary features
It has been suggested that Round Hill residents ask The Veolia Environmental Trust to pay for some railway trees, since there does not appear to be any space for landscaping on Veolia's tightly packed site.

See also: Action needed to restore tree-lines and boundary features - the importance of the northern boundary of our conservation area in the context of Hollingdean Depot.
This page was last updated by Ted on 04-Oct-2018
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