City plans for future beyond Covid-19 at historic virtual meeting

Councillors have backed proposals to build new homes and offices in Brighton & Hove as part of the development of the city, beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, during the historic first in a series of virtual meetings.

An application to build 148 homes plus more than 950 square metres of office floor space in Newtown Road, Hove, was approved by the city’s Planning Committee yesterday – the first council committee to meet virtually, using video-conferencing technology, to ensure that vital infrastructure decisions continue to be taken during the Covid-19 outbreak.

In addition to much needed new homes, the proposals will also provide nearly £625,000 of investment into new local community infrastructure including improved facilities at Blatchington Mill & Hove Park schools and council recreation, parks and sports facilities across Hove.

The Planning Committee, chaired by Councillor Tracey Hill, met virtually using Skype, under legislation that came into force recently.

Members of public addressed committee

Members of the public were able to address the committee on specific matters on the agenda by joining the meeting online using a pre-designated link. Interested parties were also able to have statements presented on their behalf by their ward councillor or an officer.

Councillor Hill said she was delighted that her committee had taken the city’s first steps in demonstrating the effectiveness of digital democracy and she praised the hard work of the council’s officers and her fellow committee members in making the virtual meeting work.

“The meeting was not without a few minor technical hiccups, but I’m pleased that we were able to fulfil all of our regulatory requirements while pioneering digital technology to carry on planning for the future of our city,” Councillor Hill said.

“The decisions made yesterday will help our city and its industries recover faster when the current restrictions and financial uncertainties diminish as we prevail against this virus.”

The first virtual meeting of the full council is scheduled for today.*

Parliament approved legislation last month allowing local councils to hold meetings virtually – without members being in the same location. The new rules will run until 7 May 2021, subject to Parliament renewing the legislation at six-monthly intervals.

Watch webcasts of council meetings

View reports to the planning committee on 22 April

View reports to the council meeting on 23 April

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