31 October 2013

Council aims for a realistic balance to ensure City Plan protects needs of the city

Brighton & Hove has been asked to look at sites on the Urban Fringe for potential development in order to address the city’s housing shortfall. 

The city council contends that only a handful of these fringe sites have real potential to deliver housing but the City Plan commits to such a review.

As part of the examination in public of the City Plan the council proposed an amendment to more clearly recognise further potential for housing in the Urban Fringe of between 100 and 200 dwellings at most to provide a sounder basis for the Inspector to consider the Plan.

Government requirements stipulate that councils must address their housing need up to 2030 in full when drawing up their local plans. This is a challenge throughout the country, but particularly difficult in the south east. Brighton & Hove is further constrained by having the South Downs National Park on one side and the sea on the other.

The Inspector has made it clear that failure to address the housing requirement shortfall, which in Brighton & Hove is between 4,700 and 8,700, could result in the City Plan not being approved. If that were to happen it would reduce local protection on sites, with a presumption in favour of development.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who chairs the city’s planning committee, said: “As far as open spaces are concerned, we are clear that we would never endorse building on the city’s parks, allotments, playing fields and sports pitches. They are strongly safeguarded by policies at national and local level.

“It is difficult to see where we can find the space for these extra homes. We have to create a balance between housing, employment and recreation space to maintain the quality of life and local economic growth that our residents and businesses want.

“We are trying hard to meet the government requirements as not having a sound local plan would mean a free for all of development with very few controls – taking away the ability of local people to participate and influence development in their area.”

The City Plan has identified space for a substantial number of new homes – 11,300 – albeit short of the technical requirement, and the local authority is under pressure to narrow the margin.

The council has already included Toads Hole Valley in the Urban Fringe as a potential site for development of 700 new homes with a school and has always maintained that there is only very limited other potential for residential development. Eighty-five per cent of the Urban Fringe is either part of the Open Space framework (such as parks, allotments, public access land and playing fields) or it is contaminated.

Objectors to the City Plan insist that there is greater potential left in the Urban Fringe and that the council should give higher priority to meeting its housing needs.

Any proposal to allocate a site for potential development would be subject to full consultation.

The public examination of the City Plan finishes on Friday after which the Inspector will consider all the evidence before deciding whether to approve Brighton & Hove’s City Plan. This process is likely to take several weeks.

 


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