23 May 2013

Council’s application for planning exemption turned down

The council fears that new Government legislation to ease change of use from office to residential property will have a detrimental affect on the city’s business growth when it comes into force on 30 May. Despite Brighton & Hove’s request for exemption the Council was one of many concerned local authorities across the country to be denied their exemption request.

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, Deputy Leader of the council, said; “The council put forward a robust and carefully considered case to protect businesses and jobs in the city.

“We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has chosen to refuse our request despite the fact that it was supported by key business groups in the city including the Economic Partnership, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and Wired Sussex.

“The council understands only too well the need for housing, but it is equally vital that we are able to sustain the economic regeneration of our city. Brighton & Hove has been awarded ultra-fast broadband in acknowledgment of our enviable position as the creative and digital hub for the South East. These new rules will make it so much harder for us to build on our hard won reputation and attract more investment for the city as a whole.”

Related information

The government stated from the outset that it would only grant exemptions in exceptional circumstances; only 11 of the 30 London councils were successful with a handful of councils outside London.

Brighton and Hove is one of the fastest growing economies in the south east. Over the past 15 years job growth has exceeded the regional and national average.

Forecasts show that the city has the potential to generate 20,000 jobs over the next two decades, of which about 7,900 (40%), will require office premises.

Brighton & Hove City Council asked the government for an exemption on new planning rules to protect central Brighton office space and 15 other employment sites in the city

There are 1,500 companies in the whole proposed exemption area, 20% of the city’s entire business base.

Central Brighton accounts for 32% of the city’s stock of office space and the economic cost of losing even 10% of it could equate to a loss or displacement of up to 700 office-based jobs, with an impact of £25.6 million Gross Value Added (GVA) per annum.

If 10% of this stock were converted to housing, it could support around 190 units and 114 jobs over the three year period during the construction phase, worth £2.4 million of GVA. There would be no control over whether the units would be affordable housing.

A recent study into employment space in the city revealed a shortage of available office space in the central Brighton area and that need is reflected in the City Plan. This cannot be achieved through new development alone, but also through renewal and upgrading of existing office space.

As well as central Brighton, the 15 other sites for proposed exemption were: Preston Barracks and Brighton University; Edward Street Quarter; Circus Street; Conway Street Industrial Area; Toads Hole Valley; Portland Road Trading Estate; Land north of Newtown Road; Woodingdean Industrial Estate; Hollingbury Industrial Site; English Close Industrial Area; City Park, the Droveway, Hove; Patcham Court Farm; Knoll Business Park; Peacock Industrial Estate; Sackville Trading Estate

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the 17 successful councils are: the City of London and the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea.
Also exempt are the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire, Ashford and Sevenoaks, both in Kent, East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council.