Tag Archives: Allotments

Slow worms could halt railway allotments development

From Brighton & Hove News

A developer’s plans to squeeze a terrace of four homes onto old railway allotments in Brighton is being stalled by the question of whether or not there are slow worms living there.

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People living near the patch of land, which backs onto the Open House pub’s garden on Springfield Road, say they were horrified when the new owner of the site, Brighton Housing Developments, cleared it before Christmas.

Planning permission was given on appeal in 2014 to build four houses on the site – subject to the snakelike reptiles being moved to a new home.

But this runs out in March, and John Blackburn-Panteli, director of Brighton Housing Developments which bought the plot in December last year, has now submitted a survey which states that no slow worms live on the site, so no relocation is needed.

However, county ecologist Kate Cole says the survey was done during periods of frosty nights, which could have triggered the slow worms’ hibernation period and account for none being found.

A petition to save the allotments from development has now been signed by more than 400 people. Clare Tyler, who started it, said: “The old railway allotments between Springfield Road and London Road station, home to a wealth of wildlife and a much-loved conservation area in the heart of the city, have been destroyed.

“Much to our dismay, a developer recently bought the land with planning permission, and hastily chopped down all the woodland just before Christmas without any prior notice to the local residents or the community and plans to build four houses, immediately beside the rail track and Open House pub.

“The community are fighting this, and we will continue to fight. The piece of land was an oasis of woodland, shrubbery and wildlife.

“Now it’s a barren site – we hope it can be saved, and at the very least, we want the developers to strictly adhere to all conditions going forward- and the slow worms saved!”

Click here for the full story.

Cash crisis to hit green spaces?

From The Argus

Parks, playgrounds and allotments could be handed over to community groups, trusts and not-for-profit organisations under new plans unveiled by the city council.

Brighton and Hove City Council is to launch a citywide consultation which could see clubs and other groups take on responsibility for sports facilities and green spaces around the city.

The council is proposing the dramatic change affecting up to 50 parks, 3,000 allotments, 50 playgrounds, green verges and parts of the South Downs National Park because it no longer has enough money to maintain them all.

Sporting groups have reacted cautiously to the plans, raising concerns about their own financial ability to meet the costs while concerns over continued public access to green spaces have been raised.

Council officers said there is already insufficient funding to maintain playgrounds and sports facilities along with paths, gates, fences and floral beds with budget cuts of £230,000 planned from next month.

Development and grant funding for many playgrounds were also coming to an end, officers warned.

The consultation will explore new management arrangements with responsibility handed to parks foundations or charitable trusts as well as potential corporate sponsorship or small scale developments to fund park maintenance.

Hire costs for sports and leisure activities could also be increased in a bid to make bowls clubs, allotments and sports clubs self-funding.

Rupert Rivett, of the Save The Preston Park Cycle Track campaign, urged the council to be cautious in the speed of reform and suggested community groups would still need substantial council support.

He said: “Personally I would be passionate about possibly doing that but it needs lots of people to do this and what happens if someone’s circumstances change and they leave whereas that passion and expertise will always be there for the council.

“Maybe five or six years down the line when we have lighting and we can rent it out, we might be in a better position.”

Adam Tunesi, Hove Rugby Club chairman, said: “At the moment the council spends about £10,000 a year on maintaining the pitches, which would be a bit expensive for us.

“We are a pretty big club but some of the smaller sporting clubs might find that kind of financial commitment difficult with their operating budgets.

“If we accepted responsibility for these pitches then we would want control of how they are used which might not be popular with dog owners.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “Managing public services on reducing budgets is a challenge and not least for the future of our parks and open spaces.

“People really value their neighbourhood parks and recreation areas so this conversation is a way of involving them from the start in a really important discussion on how we create new models for their future maintenance.”

ALLOTMENT HOLDERS FRET OVER SELF-MANAGEMENT

Allotment holders have reservations about being rushed into self-management as part of a major council shake-up of its green spaces.

A city-wide consultation looking at green space management includes proposals for 3,000 allotments.

Management of allotments already vary from council-run to self-management but allotment holders are wary about any move towards further and wider self-governance.

Allan Brown, Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation Committee chairman, said: “There are concerns about taking the problem off the council’s hands because in similar circumstances up and down the country there has been not enough support.

“This has led to allotments running into problems, falling into neglect and then becoming prime land for development potential.”

Mr Brown said allotment groups would have reservations about taking on certain responsibilities such as dealing with holders who fell into arrears on their rents.

He also said managing waiting lists across the city worked better from a central database.

He said: “It doesn’t make any sense if all separate allotment groups managed waiting lists separately, it’s much more effectively done through the council.”

Mr Brown also warned that further self-management would not guarantee the future use of sites as allotments.

He said: “I don’t think it would offer any protection at all, possibly even less so than now.

“The land would still be rented off the council and would still be just as liable to be developed on.”

City Plan Agreed

From The Argus

Councillors have agreed to launch a public consultation on the future development of Brighton and Hove in a bid to stop the city becoming a developers’ “Wild West”.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy and resources committee voted through the City Plan to the next stage at a meeting tonight.

A six week public consultation on the document which will lay down the ground rules for development in the city until 2030 will begin on November 4.

Councillors warned that if the City Plan was not agreed decisions on development in the city would be taken out of the hands of local decision makers and create a “planning by appeal” process that developers would win.

But dissenting voices said the plan had put urban fringe places at risk by indicating sites that could be developed.

The proposals for more than 13,000 homes had first come to the committee in July but were put on hold following pressure from environmental groups.

The council’s head of planning Martin Randall told the committee that the three month delay had allowed time for “reflection and adjustment within the tight regulations” set by the Government’s planning inspectorate.

Without agreeing it, Mr Randall said the council would be in a weak position to resist inappropriate development and be at risk at losing more decisions by appeal.

The committee was told that the City Plan would protect 90% of the city’s urban fringe.

The City Plan if agreed would ensure that urban fringe sites would only be allocated for housing with further consultation and should be used to meet local housing needs through community land trusts and low-cost self-build housing.

Green Councillor Geoffrey Bowden said: “If we don’t have a City Plan in place, there will be opening to a Wild West, a developers’ paradise.

“We might as well pack up the planning department and go straight to Whitehall so there are huge dangers if we don’t agree to this.”

Labour Councillor Warren Morgan said the council had to protect the city’s allotments, parks, open spaces and urban fringe.

He said he hoped residents would use the process to tell the Government planning inspectorate what they think.

Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said the report was almost identical to the report which had come to the committee three months earlier with just cosmetic changes.

He said: “By identifying these sites and putting them in the public domain, we have given the green light to developers for our most cherished sites next to the Downs.

“We should have consulted first and come along with a sites allocated rather than this haphazard of dealing with it.

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes said that the fact the environmental groups were now supporting the City Plan which they protested against in July did show significant progress had been made.