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.

January 2017 Reported Crime Statistics

Sussex Police have released the latest reported crime statistics for January 2017, the latest figures available.

Click on the map for detailed information.

Here is a brief summary of the crime information for the past two months:

December 2016

January 2017

All crime

53

52

Anti-social behaviour

16

9

Bicycle theft

1

3

Burglary

6

4

Criminal damage and arson

5

1

Drugs

0

2

Other crime

1

2

Other theft

1

6

Possession of weapons

0

2

Public order

1

3

Robbery

0

0

Shoplifting

0

0

Theft from the person

0

0

Vehicle crime

10

9

Violence and sexual offences

12

11

Please visit https://www.police.uk/shape/AnxkDj/ for more information including outcomes for these crimes and contact information for your local policing team.

Electric bus trial to commence

From The Argus

Brighton and Hove Bus Company will begin trials with this electric bus.

Bosses have given the green light for a plan to pull the petrol and run their first trial of electric buses.

Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company has announced the emissions free vehicle will begin running along the city’s streets from this week.

It is the latest move designed to reduce air pollution in the city – which exceeds EU safe standards along major bus routes in Lewes Road and North Street as well as Rottingdean High Street.

The company is following in the footsteps of The Big Lemon company who are working to convert all their cooking oil fuelled vehicles into electric buses having received funding to create a solar powered recharging point at their depot.

Previously plans for electric buses had been on hold because of concerns over whether electric vehicles would be able to cope with the city’s steep hills.

Under the trial, a small single-deck electric bus known as a Streetair is being trialled this week on the number 50 bus route which runs between the University of Sussex and Brighton Railway Station.

The trial is designed to explore the right fuel options for the city in the short, medium and long term and will run on the city’s streets for a couple of months.

The electric bus, which has come from Northern Irish-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus, will be charged overnight and feature messages informing passengers and residents about the trial.

Passengers will also be able to pick up the environmentally friendly bus at Churchill Square, the Old Steine, Theatre Royal, Royal Pavilion, Jubilee Library, Brighton Museum, Brighton Pier and the Sea Life Centre.

Last year the company, which was founded in 1935, phased out all of its remaining 100 Euro 3 emission standard vehicles and has spent millions on the highest-standard Euro 6 buses while converting other vehicles to lower-emission technology.

Managing Director Martin Harris said: “We are excited to start this electric bus trial so we can see how the vehicle copes with the city’s topography and high passenger volumes.

“We foresee that ‘electric’ will form part of a multi-pronged strategy for a sustainable transport system for the future, and are currently exploring a number of fuel options for the short, medium and long term.”

Railway allotments development update

From Brighton & Hove News

A developer who wants to squeeze four homes onto old railway allotments has been told that he must still move slow worms thought to live on the site – and warned he could be breaking the law by clearing it.

View image on Twitter

Brighton Housing Developments, owned by Swiss-based John and Nicola Panteli-Blackburn, bought the site to the rear of the Open House pub in Springfield Road late last year.

It came with planning permission for a terrace of four houses – but that runs out today (14 March), with the developer stuck between not being able to start official development because of the slow worms, and the planning permission expiring unless he does.

Just before Christmas, the developer applied to get a condition to relocate the reptiles removed on the basis that a wildlife survey had found no slow worms.

This year, the site has been aggressively cleared, and the developer’s agents say this has been done on the assumption that no reptiles are living there.

But the county ecologist pointed out that the survey had been done at the wrong time of year when slow worms would have been hard to spot and may even be hibernating.

And the council has now rejected the attempt to clear the condition and says the relocation exercise must still take place – and warns that clearance of the site could be a criminal offence.

Click here for the full story.