8 October 2014

The city needs a sound Plan

Proposed changes to the City Plan will be put before Members of Brighton & Hove’s Policy & Resources Committee next week (16 October).

An adopted City Plan is vital to the City’s future prosperity. It will set out the planning framework to secure local regeneration and will help to deliver major projects, including at Preston Barracks and the King Alfred sites.  An agreed housing target for the city to 2030 will make sure local housing needs are met and important employment sites, business space, community uses and open space safeguarded.

The City Plan is currently under examination by the government-appointed inspector whose job is to make sure the city is doing everything possible to meet the city’s future housing needs.

The Inspector considered that the council should make a more rigorous assessment of housing potential from the urban fringe (the open space between the built up area boundary and the National Park) and look for housing opportunities to help address the city’s significant housing need.

The Inspector has indicated that without this work she would not be able to make changes to the City Plan and find it ‘sound’.

An independent study into the potential for housing on the city's urban fringe published in July showed that, according to the government’s criteria, there is potential for 1,180 potential dwellings on 39 sites, which equates to 7.5% of the total urban fringe area. The study, conducted at the Inspector’s request, has informed proposed changes to the City Plan which increase the housing target from 11,200 to 13,200 and identify the urban fringe as a broad source of potential housing in order to satisfy the Inspector’s concerns.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “This is a challenging issue for all councillors but the council has to satisfy the planning inspector that it is doing all it can to meet the city’s pressing housing needs. We were directed to look ‘under every stone,’ including the urban fringe.

“The study confirms our belief that there is very limited potential for development in the urban fringe but by accepting some urban fringe housing potential in the City Plan we will be able to safeguard the great majority – more than 90 per cent. Not only that but we would be able to make sure that good quality and improved open spaces are part of any new developments as well as providing housing to meet local needs, including schemes such as self-build and community land trusts that would offer low cost homes to local people.

“Accepting the amended City Plan does not mean that sites will automatically be allocated for development. We have been asked to agree the number of new houses in the city that could come forward from the urban fringe but not the formal allocation of individual sites. Every site identified as having potential would be subject to further investigation under Part 2 of the City Plan with full public consultation.

“If, however, we cannot agree we will be at risk of losing control of where new developments will go, putting the whole of the urban fringe at risk.”

Without an up to date and adopted Plan the council would not be in strong position to resist inappropriate development across the city. This would undermine the positive and balanced approach to future growth and development in the city and jeopardise investment.

If councillors agree in principle, the proposed changes to the City Plan will be subject to a six week consultation period beginning on 4 November.


Background

Every local authority has to demonstrate how it is going to meet future housing needs in order to have its local planning policies agreed by the government.

The Inspector indicated in her Initial conclusions letter to the council that in light of the city’s significant housing shortfall between planned housing provision (11,300) and objectively assessed need (now 24,000) she needs to ensure the city has done everything possible to try and close that gap.

At this stage the council is being asked to agree the number of new houses in the city that could come forward from the urban fringe but not the formal allocation of individual sites.

As well as residents being able to comment on the proposed changes to the City Plan following the Committee decision there will be another opportunity for residents to make their views known during the preparation of Part 2 of the City Plan. This is where further detailed assessment of urban fringe sites will be undertaken.  This might include, for example, considerable archaeological or ecological constraints identified through detailed survey work, lack of site availability or previously unforeseen environmental factors including flood risk or contamination.  

Should planning applications come forward on urban fringe sites then residents will be able to object to the planning application.

Read the reports for the Policy & Resources Committee (City Plan is agenda item number 56)