Current position December 2021

""Image of how the Brighton Gasworks scheme would look.

  • The planning application has now been submitted for the redevelopment of the site.
  • The planning application is for a mixed-use scheme with 553 residential units and 2697sqm of commercial space proposed. A mix of building types are proposed ranging from three to twelve storeys. Communal and public amenity space will be provided on site. 
  • The site will be accessed via Boundary Road and Marina Way and will provide pedestrian links through the site.
  • The Brighton Gasworks site is allocated in the City Plan Part One for mixed use development – 2,000 square metres of employment space and a minimum of 85 dwellings.
  • Most of the land at the Gasworks site is privately owned and development of the site is being taken forward by a private developer. There are small strips of land owned by the council on the northern and southern edges of the site but these are not included as part of the planning application.
  • Some of the key areas the planning application will have to address are the safe environmental clean-up of the site, the level of development proposed, and parking / highways issues.
  • The site lies outside of a designated ‘tall buildings’ area.
  • Officers will carefully consider the planning application against policies in the development plan. They will then make a recommendation on whether to approve or refuse the scheme. The application will be decided by locally elected councillors who sit on the Planning Committee.

About the site

The 2-hectare former Gasworks site is next to the A259 coastal road and near Black Rock, Brighton Marina and East Brighton Park. The site itself is predominately given over to temporary uses such as storage, parking and light industrial uses. Two redundant gasometers and supporting gas infrastructure remain on land owned by National Grid and St William.

Due to the historic industrial use of the site, the development of effective and comprehensive strategies and plans to safely repair the site will be very important. The council has employed specialist environmental consultants to help us assess and review the formal planning application.

The developers

St William is a Joint Venture between National Grid and The Berkeley Group established to regenerate brownfield sites across the South of England.

Planning, design and consultation

Where you can find information about the planning application

All of the documents are publicly available on the planning register on the council website. The application number is BH2021/04167. The planning process is public and transparent, so all the information taken into account in deciding the application will be online for the public to view.

Key supporting documents are the Planning Statement and the Design and Access Statement which provide a comprehensive overview of the scheme.

The application also contains an Environmental Statement (ES). The ES is broken into 3 volumes with the technical documents contained as appendices in Volume 3.

Proposals – planning application BH2021/04167

The planning application is for a mixed-use scheme with 553 residential units and 2697sqm of commercial space proposed. A mix of building types are proposed ranging from three to twelve storeys.

Consulting the local community

Previous Developer consultations

It's not a statutory requirement for the developer (the applicant) to consult the local community before submitting a planning application. However, it's strongly encouraged for major applications in national and local planning guidance.

The developer has prior to the submission of the planning application:

Previous Council consultations

The Gasworks site was allocated for redevelopment as part of the 2005 Brighton and Hove Local Plan. We have since included the site within the allocation for development in the 2016 Brighton and Hove City Plan Part One.

On both occasions the Development Plans had significant city-wide consultation. We considered relevant responses which helped to shape these planning policies.

We don't consult the local community on ‘pre-application’ proposals. These are confidential and shared with us by a potential applicant before they submit a planning application.

Once a planning application has been submitted and validated, we then publicise the application (see below).

Planning performance agreements (PPAs)

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages the use of PPAs. They say that they are likely to be needed for applications that are large or complex.

A PPA is a project management tool which local planning authorities and applicants can use to agree timescales, actions and resources for handling particular applications.

There have previously been several rounds of pre-application for this site and there is a PPA in place. It sets out:

  • how we will work together
  • an updated programme for the planning application

How to have your say on the development

Now that we have received a planning application we have:

  • put up site notices in the immediate vicinity of the site
  • advertised the application in The Argus
  • included it in the weekly list of planning applications that we publish on our website
  • updated the Brighton Gasworks web page with links to the application

The easiest way for people to comment on the application and to receive updates on key milestones is to register with our planning system.

Anyone can provide comments at the planning application stage. Planning officers will consider all comments in their assessment. Comments will be considered up until the point that the application is determined.

Planning Process

The council services involved in the planning application

The council has formally consulted key internal and external consultees for their input on the planning application.

Key internal teams include:

  • Highways
  • Housing
  • Planning Policy
  • Heritage
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental Health
  • Drainage
  • Air Quality

External consultees include:

  • The County Ecologist
  • County Archaeology
  • The County Landscape Architect
  • South Downs National Park

External consultants will be used to access the following

  • Financial viability
  • Wind and microclimate
  • Sunlight and daylight
  • Environmental ground conditions

Concerns about overshadowing, loss of privacy, noise and congestion

All these issues will be considered as part of the planning application process. The developer will need to submit sufficient information to show that the issues have been assessed and provide details on any mitigation that may be necessary.

The application is accompanied by a full Environmental Statement, as well as a Transport Assessment and other studies.

How the proposal contributes to Brighton & Hove becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030

When we make decisions on planning applications, we have to apply a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.

This includes:

  • protecting the environment
  • mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • moving to a low carbon economy

Central to this approach is making efficient use of ‘brownfield’ (previously developed) land, rather than new (green) sites.

Development must comply with Policy CP8. This seeks, as a minimum, a 19% improvement on the carbon emissions set by Building Regulation (Part L). This percentage may increase under the Future Homes Standards.

Homes

Homes for families

We expect the proposal to provide a mix of different housing types, bedroom numbers and sizes in accordance with policy CP19, Housing Mix.

Affordable housing

There is a local policy requirement for 40% affordable housing. This set out in policy CP20 of the City Plan Part One.

The applicant has set out in their planning application that they are still looking into potential ways to provide affordable housing.

The council has agreed to give the applicant more time to investigate all affordable housing avenues and as such a financial viability assessment was not submitted with the planning application.

If after further investigation the applicant indicates that they cannot provide the 40% affordable housing, then they will have to demonstrate why through a financial viability assessment (FVA) which will be required to be independently assessed by external consultants appointed by the council.

The council would ensure that residents were formally consulted again if any FVA was submitted. 

Fire Safety

A Fire Safety Statement has been submitted as part of the application.

Planning Policy

Types of development allocated to the site

The site allocation set out in policy DA2 in City Plan Part 1 (CPP1) is for:

  • approximately 2,000 sqm of business floor space
  • a minimum of 85 residential units
  • some secondary retail development

We express this as a minimum to allow for developments with a higher level of housing. This is because of the significant shortfall in meeting housing needs in the city.

However, the planning application will be carefully assessed against wider policies in the City Plan.

Why there are more homes allocated for the Gasworks site on the Brownfield Land Register

We have to prepare an annually updated Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) with new information such as:

  • residential completions
  • planning permissions
  • updated residential site information

The 2019 SHLAA shows the potential for the Gasworks site to deliver 340 dwellings. This which was informed by a Housing and Employment Land Study. The figure in the Brownfield Land Register is from the SHLAA.

These are indicative figures. They help us to identify the level of housing land that is still needed in the city to meet our housing requirements.

Developers can submit planning applications for more (or fewer) dwellings on sites than are allocated.

How housing targets affect the gasworks site

In 2019 the government introduced new planning rules through the 2019 revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Our City Plan Part 1 (CPP1) Policy CP1 ‘Housing Delivery’, which sets the minimum housing target for 660 homes per annum, became out of date for the purposes of assessing the five-year housing land supply position, 5 years on from adoption on March 24th 2021.

From this date the Plan’s housing requirement increased from 660 dwellings per year to 924 dwellings per year. This is set by government using their standard method for calculating housing need.

The most immediate impact of this change is likely to be on the council’s ability to show an up to date five-year supply and satisfy the government’s annual housing delivery test.

In December 2020 the Government announced a change to this standard method approach through the introduction of a new ‘cities and urban centres uplift’. This has added 35% to the housing need figure as derived under the existing standard method for England’s 20 biggest cities and towns and was effective from 21 June 2021. As Brighton & Hove is included in that list the city’s housing need figure has increased from 924 homes per year to 1250 homes per year.

The challenge of meeting the government-set housing targets for the city means that there will be an increased presumption in favour of sustainable development.

It means we need to ensure that brownfield sites are developed to their maximum potential so that there is enough housing on these sites. This will then help us protect the greenfield sites on the edges of the city.

Tall buildings

The Urban Design Framework SPD is available on the council website. It provides guidance on appropriate locations in the city for tall buildings (6 or more storeys) and how we assess applications for tall buildings. A Tall Buildings Study informed this guidance.

This document lists the neighbouring Marina as an area with potential for tall buildings. The study went on to inform policy CP12 Urban Design in the adopted City Plan and the Urban Design Framework.

If a site is outside an area identified specifically as having potential for tall buildings, it does not automatically mean that a proposal for tall building (6 or more storeys) in this area is unacceptable.

A detailed assessment will though be required with any tall building application in line with the guidance in the Urban Design Framework SPD. The case officer will then assess the acceptability of the proposal on the details provided, including an assessment of any impact on the appearance and character of the area.

Potential improvements to the local area

The scheme will be liable for site specific developer (s106) contributions to mitigate for any detrimental impacts of the scheme.

These could include such things as:

  • improvements to the highway network
  • a requirement to use local labour
  • improvements to the public realm / integration of public art within the scheme
  • nature conservation improvements

Environmental Issues

Gasworks site original use

The site was used for gas production and storage from 1818. Gas production stopped in 1860 but the site continued to be used for gas storage in up to seven large gas holders over the entire site.

From 2012, gas was stored in underground mains. The gasholders are no longer in use, though two remain on site. A small part of the site remains in use for gas infrastructure and would be retained if the site is developed.

Potential for contamination

Former industrial sites can contain harmful substances such as:

  • oils and tars
  • waste metals
  • organic compounds and gases

These can be leftover from or created by the previous activities on site.

Land is affected when there are polluting substances in, on or under the land. This may mean that there are substances left in buildings or on land, or that the substances are buried in the ground. These can harm human health or cause water pollution.

Because the site was used for the production and then storage of gas, it could be contaminated.

The applicant’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Report states that the developers did an initial assessment for the owner of the site prior to submitting their planning application. You can find more information on contaminated land and the planning process on gov.uk.

About Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) form part of the planning application process. We use them to test developments which could have ‘significant effects’ on the environment.

The aim of the EIA is to protect the environment. It does this by ensuring that when making decisions on planning applications, planning authorities like us have full knowledge of the likely significant environmental effects.

It's a formal procedure which the applicant must do to first agree with us whether the project should be subject to an EIA (the EIA screening process). If it does, then the applicant should then seek our agreement as to which environmental effects to assess and how (the EIA scoping process). An EIA is then carried out and the results submitted with the planning application in an Environmental Statement.

You can learn more about EIAs on gov.uk.

EIAs and the Gasworks site

As part of the planning application to redevelop the Gasworks site, the developer has to submit information showing how the site can be cleaned up safely. This will include:

  • investigating what contamination is on the site and where
  • quantifying existing and future risks
  • demonstrating how developers will prevent it from harming people or the environment.

Some initial work is already complete. This includes:

  • a desktop review of historic uses
  • borehole data
  • groundwater sampling

The Gasworks scheme is an ‘EIA development’ because it has the potential for significant environmental effects (within the meaning of the EIA Regulations). The scope of information to be submitted as part of the EIA was agreed through a Scoping Opinion issued by the Council on 19 November 2020.

The applicants planning application will need to identify what the risks are of contaminants reaching people and the environment, and crucially, how this risk would be mitigated during any redevelopment.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to show that the development can come forward safely and address issues of contamination and environmental impact.

'Special site' status

A ‘special site’ is a site identified under the Contaminated Land Regulations 2006,. The effect of this is that the Environment Agency becomes the enforcing authority. They are then responsible for environmental clean-up.

The Gasworks site has not been identified as a ‘special site’.

Risks of contaminated sites to human health and the environment

The risk of contamination depends on the site conditions and nature of the contamination. It can also depend on any ‘linkages’ between the contamination (the ‘source’) and people/the environment.

For there to be harm to human health, there needs to be a source of contamination at a concentration that could cause harm. There have to be people present, and there needs to be a pathway of exposure (breathing in dust/gas, drinking contaminated water etc.).

A site may therefore be contaminated, but if there are no ‘pathways’, there will be no risk to human health.

A contaminated site can harm habitat and species if there is a source of contamination at a concentration enough to cause harm and where there is a pathway of exposure. This could include examples such as wildlife consuming contaminated plants or water.

Ensuring that the Gasworks development is safe

The applicant has to set out in the planning application how the development can come forward without putting human health at risk from any contamination on the site. They have to consider risks, both during the redevelopment and following completion of construction.

They will assess the level and type of contamination on the site now, the increased risks of dispersal the development may create, and how they will prevent this.

How our planners will know if the measures the applicants propose will work

Planning officers will consult with a range of specialists, including:

  • the council’s Environmental Health specialists
  • an externally appointed Contaminated Land specialist
  • the Environment Agency
  • Public Health England
  • the council’s Director of Public Health

These experts will assess the information in the planning application and provide comments on it, including whether they agree the developer’s approach is safe.