Monthly Archives: March 2017

Spring – renewing, restoring

London Road Station Partnership Blog

It’s almost the end of March, the evenings are lighter, the days are warmer. Finally, we’ve had some dry sunny days to clear up, renew and restore the gardens at London Rd station.

The trees pits and platform planters have been really beautiful this year. Bulbs we planted last year have flowered well again, and the polyanthus have been going almost all year round.

The platform planters – particularly the middle one – are brimming with spring blooms, and the scent from the skimmia japonica we planted last year is beguiling. Unfortunately, the poor skimmia keeps getting sat on and uprooted … and we’ve had to work hard on several occasions to revive it and settle it back in the soil.

A couple of weeks back, we planted lots of new polyanthus and pansies in the shady plot and in gaps in the tree pits and platform planters. So far, we’ve managed to protect…

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Vote for Creative Connections!

From Jenny Staff –

Please help us with our campaign to get the public vote for our work with early years and families in East Sussex – we are down to the last 5 to secure funding to run free stimulating creative sessions in libraries and community centres in targeted areas of East Sussex, alongside training for staff and volunteers to provide excellent open-ended, fun learning opportunities.

We really need your votes to secure this really important work as we try to redress some of the austerity cuts in early years provision.

Thank you.

Please vote here.

 

Neighbourhood Watch in Springfield Road?

A member has expressed a desire to extend the Southdown Avenue Neighbourhood Watch
scheme to cover Springfield Road.
It’s an informal group, we don’t have meetings but do circulate emails with information on local
crime from Sussex Police and national Neighbourhood watch relevant to our neighbourhood
security.
If you live in Springfield Road and would be interested in joining the group please email
gren.nation@gmail.com with your name, address  and email address. These details will be held
in strict confidence and will not be shared with any organisation.
Thank you
Gren Nation
NW local coordinator.

Council’s downland sale cancelled

From The Argus

Brighton and Hove City Council’s downland sale cancelled

The controversial sale of two key downland sites has been dropped in the face of fierce public opposition.

Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed not to sell-off the sites at Poynings and Plumpton after campaigners accused the authority of selling off the crown jewels of their downland estate.

The land sales were designed to help fund the council’s contribution towards the £5.8 million restoration of Stanmer Park.

A special review panel established into the sales has now reported that Stanmer’s fundraising strategy is currently anticipated to over-achieve its target, allowing the plans to now continue without the need to sell the two sites.

The halted sell-off is the second good news for campaigners this month after Eastbourne decided against its plans to sell off downland farms for up to £30 million.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “After reviewing the situation, a cross party Policy Review Panel has taken the view that the sites at Poynings and Plumpton should not be sold at this time.

“The panel’s recommendation was made after councillors looked at the council’s approach to the downland asset management policy and heard evidence from expert witnesses.

“The sale of the sites was due to generate an estimated £360,000 and, if approved at committee, would result in a shortfall of the projected budget.

“The cross party working panel will meet for two further meetings to complete their review of the city’s Urban and Rural Asset Management Policy.

“The panel’s work includes hearing further evidence from local stakeholders and experts before reporting back with all their recommendations to May’s policy, resources and growth committee where the final decisions will be made.”

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “I am pleased that the administration has now listened to residents and interested parties on this matter.

“The Conservative Group looked into this issue thoroughly, listening to and discussing the proposals with a number of bodies who wanted to see this downland remain under council ownership.

“We therefore welcome the decision of the panel.”

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes, who sat on the cross party policy review panel said: “Greens welcome the council’s announcement that finally ends the sale of two parts of our Downland estate and have worked hard for this decision.

“Observers might wonder what the fuss was about and why people are concerned about selling agricultural land outside our city boundaries, when capital receipts are required for various projects around the city.

“One part of the answer to this question lies in the fate of land on the Devil’s Dyke estate sold recently by our council, on which ancient woodland trees have been felled in the past few weeks.

“A number of commentators, including the CEO of South Downs National Park Authority, have stated that public ownership is the best protection for precious rural landholdings.

“At the root of public ownership lies democratic oversight. Sale, lease, change of use of land in public ownership is subject to scrutiny by members of the public and by elected representatives.

“Land in private ownership is not, even if it is protected by national designations for biodiversity, heritage, landscape, water provision and public rights of way.

“My big fear through this process was that if these parcels of land were sold, the enforcement of designations protecting their status and social value would pass to a suite of chronically under-resourced public sector bodies whose environmental protection mandate continues to be diluted by national government.

“Also some of the existing protections are only in place because of European legislation, which may soon become irrelevant.

“The South Downs is an iconic landscape and habitat of huge importance to our city and nationally. Its great news that we’re not going to sell it off bit by bit.”

Keith Taylor, Green MEP, former city councillor and vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “This welcome climbdown is great news for Green campaigners and everybody involved in the Keep our Downlands Public campaign in Brighton and Hove.

“The controversial plan to sell off the council’s Poynings and Plumpton landholdings in the South Downs inspired an organised, passionate and energetic campaign to stop the sales; their efforts must be commended.

Toad’s Hole Valley Consultation

From Brighton & Hove News

The public are being asked to help shape the future of Hove’s biggest new housing estate, with at least 700 homes planned for Toad’s Hole Valley.

A draft blueprint has been drawn up which, once adopted, will set the limits on what can and can’t be built on the 91-acre site on the northern edge of Hove.

And to encourage people to look at what’s at stake, Brighton and Hove City Council has released a video as part of the call for input.

To find out more and to take part in the consultation online, visit the dedicated page on the council website www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/toadsholevalley.

Click here for the full story.

Anston House – from the Brighton Society

From Brighton Society

The latest application for the Anston House site with three tower blocks of up to 15 storeys was approved in December.  We were extremely disappointed as it ignores many critical planning policies and sets a precedent for similar high rise buildings across the city.

We submitted a twelve page objection to the application emphasising that it did not comply with planning policies that were the reason for rejecting the previous application.

We pointed out that a low rise, high density, development was entirely possible. And we provided an overshadowing analysis showing that the Rose Garden and adjacent areas of Preston Park would be in shadow for 6 months of the year.  Our objections were not mentioned at the committee meeting.

For such a crucial application we were expecting an intense level of discussion but many critical questions were never debated or even asked.  And there were so many questions that should have been asked.  Why the massive overdevelopment of the site  – 230 flats, and towers twice the height of any nearby buildings? Why were the issues of scale, height, overbearing impact, important views, overshadowing and overlooking not discussed and why were the policies that cover these issues completely ignored?  How could it be acceptable for such high towers to be built up against small terraced housing?  Whatever happened to the planning policies that specify that developments have to be sympathetic to the local area? How could the committee meekly accept that 13% affordable housing was acceptable when 40% is the current requirement? The local residents’ group presented a strong case for rejection because of over-development, overbearing presence in the surrounding area, and detrimental effect on the listed Preston Park and on the houses in Dyke Road Drive – all contrary to numerous planning policies.  In addition, the percentage of affordable housing was minimal and the amount of commercial space was inadequate. The previous application was rejected for similar reasons so logically this one should have been too.

To add insult to injury the spokesman for the Conservation Advisory Group, who is ex officio a member of the planning committee, was only called upon to speak after a majority of the councillors had confirmed that they were going to approve the application.  So much for any consideration of the conservation issues.  Reasons given by councillors for it were: a liking of tall buildings; the site has been derelict for years so anything is better than nothing;  dislike of the design but something has to be built; we ought to be thankful for 13% affordable homes because it’s free.  Only two councillors voted against the application on planning policy issues.

The result has driven massive holes into the planning policies. It will create a miserable environment for residents in the adjacent terraced housing, will dominate and overshadow Preston Park and will set a precedent for 15 storey tower blocks to become the norm.  And the acceptance of 13% affordable housing sets the bar so low that other developers will see this as what they will be able to get away with.

The views expressed are those of the Brighton Society, not of SRRA.

The webcast of proceedings can be viewed here – http://brighton-hove.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/203922.