A Brighton MP is trying to change the law this evening (Tuesday 17 May) as he campaigns to prevent buildings from towering above the cliffs at Brighton Marina.
Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, is trying to amend the Localism Bill.
He wants the bill to give powers to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to make clearer laws governing planning if they prove to be confusing.
Mr Kirby’s campaign would mean that the Brighton Marina Act could be made clear by Mr Pickles, who turned down one of two big projects planned at the marina.
The Brighton MP said that there was currently confusion about measures in the Brighton Marina Act about building above the cliff height.
One project – by Brunswick Developments – did win planning permission five years ago.
Permission was given even though objectors in Kemp Town and Whitehawk believed that the huge scheme should have been ruled out by the Brighton Marina Act.
Brighton and Hove City Council, which was then Labour controlled, overruled the objections and decided that the relevant part of the act applied only to proposals for the cliff tops.
Mr Kirby said: “My amendment will allow ministers to clear up any misunderstandings regarding acts of Parliament linked to planning.
“It will also mean I would be able to lobby ministers to change the Marina Act to avoid any building above the cliff height.
“My amendment is unlikely to pass.
“But tabling an amendment like this means that I will be able to raise the issue of building above the cliff height on the floor of the House of Commons.
“And I will be able to continue to press ministers on the issue if my amendment is not carried today.”
Mr Kirby hopes to tell the current Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and fellow MPs why he wants to change the law.
He intends to say: “Brighton Marina was built in the 1970s following the passage of the Brighton Marina Act in 1968.
“The marina is located in an undercliff location on land that was previously used for lobster fishing and recreational use.
“So from the coast road anyone looking at the marina would gaze downwards to see the homes and commercial activity which takes place there.
“The 1968 Marina Act has been taken to mean that development above the cliff height would only be for ancillary works such as lamp posts and fencing.
“In recent years this has been challenged by housing development proposals that rise well above the cliff height.
“One was agreed by Brighton and Hove City Council – but not acted upon – and one was turned down by the council and that refusal was sustained by my right honourable friend (Mr Pickles) on appeal for which I am grateful.
“Both of these developments were highly controversial and there was a clear difference of opinion between residents and the planning authority as to the intention of the 1968 act.
“If my amendment to the Localism Bill had been in place, then prior to any difference of opinion taking place the Secretary of State could have amended the act to make it crystal clear.
“Instead of which we have had years of wrangling and uncertainty and we have no real clear view even now.”