A Brighton councillor has spoken out about plans to build truly affordable homes for the working poor in the ward that she represents.
Councillor Nancy Platts said that the plans for 217 one and two-bedroom homes at the top end of Whitehawk would have an adverse impact on the area.
The Labour councillor, who represents East Brighton ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, has vowed to fight the plans even though it means going against her party.
She said: “As an East Brighton ward councillor, I attended the public meeting on Monday (12 November) to listen to the views of residents in Whitehawk about the proposed build on Whitehawk Nature Reserve.
“I saw how upset and angry local people were about the proposals and heard some very powerful and well-reasoned arguments against the development of this site.
“I have carefully considered everything said at the meeting and I understand and acknowledge the very real concerns and practical reasons why this land should not be opened up to development either now or in the future.
“The existing plans are overdevelopment of the site in an already densely populated area.
“There is one route in and one route out of Whitehawk. We already have a problem with parking and congestion, especially during major events in the city, making it difficult for buses to pass on Whitehawk Road and Whitehawk Way and for traffic to flow smoothly.
“This development would take away a much-loved nature reserve from residents, the majority of whom have no gardens. Access to green space and being able to enjoy the natural environment is good for people’s physical and mental wellbeing and this area brings the community together.
“As the council’s website says: ‘Whitehawk Hill is an ancient habitat designated a Local Nature Reserve with areas of species-rich chalk grassland supporting colonies of Adonis and Chalkhill Blue butterflies.’
“Development will damage the environment and the biodiversity of the area.
“We are campaigning hard to get a decent playground in Whitehawk and the excellent public consultations undertaken by the Parklife campaign highlighted the value placed on green spaces by local people.
“I recognise that we have a need for properly affordable housing and council housing in Brighton but I remain concerned that too many new developments in Brighton and Hove have not met our 40 per cent affordable housing target.
“Developers are being let off the hook by saying their schemes are not financially viable if they allocate 40 per cent of their space to affordable housing.
“Clearly, the more land that is built on for developers to maximise their profits, the more the space is reduced for affordable housing.
“The result has been to open up our urban fringe for development, adversely impacting on one of the most deprived areas of our city.
“It should not be the case that residents in Whitehawk should be expected to have even more people packed into the area, cheek by jowl, putting a strain on roads, schools and GP services.
“In my view, the consultation process carried out by Hyde Housing Association was poor. So much more care and community involvement needs to be put in to the shape and placement of these projects.
“We should recognise that the old days when major developments can be foisted upon working class communities without meaningful consultation and involvement are over.
“The voices of Whitehawk are important and East Brighton has been left out of the debate in the city for way too long.
“We now need to develop a neighbourhood plan that allows residents to have greater control over what happens next in their local area.
“On these grounds, and as a local ward councillor, I will be opposing any proposals for this site to be developed and I will be supporting the residents in their campaign to stop this build.”