Brighton Gasworks redevelopment proposals

If you would like to express an opinion on the following please make a comment on this post so we can formulate a group response.

Brighton Gasworks Development

To: Southdown Rise Residents Association

The Brighton Society and five other amenity societies have joined forces with AGHAST, the group which has been set up to oppose the massively overdeveloped proposals for the Gasworks site in East Brighton by developers Berkeley/St William.

The other groups are:

The Regency Society, The Kemp Town Society, The Regency Square Area Society, The Montpelier and Clifton Hill Community Association, and the Edward Street Neighbourhood Action Forum.

Those seven groups held an initial meeting via Zoom on Thursday evening 21 January.

All groups represented agreed that other community groups in the city should be invited to join the campaign against this development proposal.

There was a consensus that the Gasworks site was a potentially suitable location for new housing or a mixed use development including new housing, and should be developed in order to make a significant contribution to the Council’s efforts to provide more affordable and sustainable housing in the city, hopefully supporting the City’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030, so long as no risks are taken that might harm the health of residents living within a mile of the site.

So it’s a case of YIMBY (Yes in my backyard) NOT  NIMBY (No in my backyard).

But Berkeley’s proposals for a conglomeration of tall blocks up to 15 storeys to provide 700 new dwellings constitutes a massive overdevelopment of the site and is not an acceptable solution. Brighton deserves better.

The allocation in the City Plan for this site is for only 85 new homes, though we all consider this is far too conservative an estimate and that a realistic figure could might be much more than that.

So the question is not whether the site is developed but how it might best be  developed safely and well.

All groups expressed a preference for a low-rise high density scheme perhaps arranged around courtyards or crescents.

The main issues we need to consider are:

1.    Context: the effect of the Council’s inability to meet its housing targets and the consequent loss of control over its own planning policies.

2.    Alternative design ideas:

       We need to get the developer to go back to the drawing board using these principles of designing for low-rise high density. We have set up a sub-committee to look at alternative design approaches.  Work on this has already started.

 3. Contamination issues: AGHAST have made contact with other groups , including those who have experienced Berkeley Group’s attempts at decontamination of gasworks sites. These have all reported persistent toxic odours and increased levels of sickness, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, breathing difficulties and even cancers. This information, including the evidence of media sources and scientific experts, can be used to ask questions of Berkeley, examine evidence, and find out how well-informed the Council is (or otherwise).

4.    Interrogate the developer: draw up key questions, for example contamination issues, design issues, density, building heights and overshadowing of open spaces, amount of affordable housing, vital relationships with the seafront and the open spaces up to South Downs etc. etc.

5.    Hold an early meeting with Planning Officers once the points above have been developed into a discussion document and before a planning application is lodged.

6.    Question developer statements – armed with information from any responses from the developer and meeting with the Council.

7.    Get support from other community groups using the information gained.

       This means you.

8.    Set up a social media campaign and canvass political support from councillors and MPs.

Next steps

Key to the next steps is to get as many community groups as we can to join and support this campaign. 

The council will have to listen if there is a wide community base strongly expressing its concerns about Berkeley’s proposals.

Invitation

We invite you to our next Zoom meeting which will be held on Thursday 28 Jan at 8.00pm.  This will update all groups present on progress to date, and allow all those attending to express their views on Berkeley’s proposals and our campaign strategy.

This invitation is being sent to fourteen community groups in addition to the seven groups already involved.

We are preparing a draft statement which we hope can be agreed by all 21 community groups expressing the concerns listed above, to persuade the Council to insist that Berkeley consider alternative low-rise high density approaches to the designs for new housing on this important brownfield site.

Once this statement is agreed, it will then be tabled for discussion at a meeting with the Council planning department.

I hope this gives you some useful background and food for thought.  We would be delighted to see you on Zoom at our meeting on Thursday 28 January.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Mustoe

Chairman, Brighton Society

Background information:

Berkeley’s proposal:

https://brightongasworks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/brighton-Gasworks-Public-Consultation_June-July-20201.pdf

Brighton Society response to the public consultation:

https://www.brighton-society.org.uk/brighton-society-response-to-the-public-consultation-on-the-development-of-the-brighton-gasworks-site/.