The application seeking permission to replace the proposed secondary school approved as part of the Toads Hole Valley development with a further 182 homes will be decided at Planning Committee on Wednesday 8 March.
The Toads Hole Valley development
In June 2022 the council granted planning permission for a new neighbourhood at Toads Hole Valley. The application included plans for 880 new homes, the provision of a site for a new secondary school, community/sports facilities, offices and light industry, retail space, a community centre and doctors’ surgery, and enhanced local wildlife sites.
The overall scheme is a 42-hectare site just south of the A27, near King George VI Avenue in Hove. It is privately owned and is the largest greenfield development site in the city.
In August 2022 a further application was made by the developers, Toads Hole Valley Ltd, Pecla Investments Ltd and R M Simon, to replace part of the proposed secondary school land with additional housing.
The applicants put forward the case that a new school is no longer required by the city and that further homes should be given priority, considering the city’s housing shortage.
The new application, BH2022/02534, only relates to the 3.24-hectare area formerly proposed as part of the school site. It plans to replace the school with a further 182 homes, 40% of which would be affordable.
Although details would not be finalised until a later stage of the application process, the initial proposal for the other 60% of the houses is for 16% 1-bed, 21% 2-bed, 55% 3-bed and 8% 4-bed homes. There would also be 9 additional custom / self-build plots.
The remainder of the former school land would provide a 3G sports pitch and multi-use game area under the original permission. Construction would take place in at the same time as the rest of the Toads Hole Valley development, which is proposed in phases.
Full details of the proposals can be viewed on our Planning Register, by searching for reference number BH2022/02534. These include responses from organisations and members of the public consulted about the proposals.
The main areas of objections from neighbours which councillors on the Planning Committee will consider were the need for a school, the impact of the increased density of development if this is replaced by more homes, and the impact on local wildlife and green spaces.
An additional new school in the city is no longer needed
When it was adopted in 2016, City Plan Part 1 reserved an area within the Toads Hole Valley development area in case an additional school was needed by the time development was completed. In their response to this planning application, Education Officers confirmed that they have no objection as falling pupil numbers in the city now means that a new school is no longer required.
Reports with the Planning Application papers show that over the next four years primary school pupil numbers are forecast to continue to drop from approximately 2,250 for each year group to approximately 1,950 per year group. For secondary schools, latest forecasts show that the number of places for each year group needed will fall from 2,386 in 2023 to 1,797 by 2032.
This will result in an increase in surplus places in both primary and secondary schools.
Even with the extra 182 homes, Toads Hole Valley would be forecast to generate an additional need for 30 children per year group for primary and 32 per year group for secondary-age pupils.
Given the continuing fall in pupil numbers in the city generally this is considered as quite manageable within the current school provision for the foreseeable future.
Impact on the local environment
The site originally proposed for the school is not generally accessible to the public. However, the Local Wildlife Site to the west of the site is statutory ‘Open Access land’. This means that the landowner gives the public the right to roam on the land.
The site is largely grassland and scrub, with some shrubs and trees.
The application is accompanied by an Environmental Statement which describes features of the proposed development and measures to be taken which would avoid, prevent or reduce and, if possible, offset likely significant adverse effects on the environment.
Under City Plan Part 2, which was adopted last October, every major development in Brighton & Hove will now need to have a higher level of biodiversity following redevelopment than it had before. Schemes will have to demonstrate they can achieve a measurable net gain in biodiversity.
In Brighton & Hove we have introduced this well ahead of the government’s intention to make it mandatory nationally.
It has been assessed that the new application will result in a net loss of habitats in Toads Hole Valley. To ensure that the development actually provides the minimum 10% net gain in biodiversity within our region, the developer proposes to pay for habitats of the same type to be created within the South Downs Local Character Area, as defined by Natural England.
Councillors will decide on the application at the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 8 March. Details of attending or viewing the meeting live online can be found on our website.