Permission given to build 242 truly affordable homes in Brighton

Environmental protests were promised as Brighton and Hove City Council approved plans for flats in Coldean Lane.

An artist’s impression of flats proposed for Coldean by Homes for Brighton and Hove, the joint venture between Hyde Housing and Brighton and Hove City Council

The scheme involves building 242 homes on a triangle of land between the A27 and Coldean Lane as part of a joint venture between the council and the Hyde housing association.

Hundreds of people objected to the scheme for two seven-storey and four six-storey buildings, writing letters and signing a petition.

Council repairs

One of them, Becky Hobbs, criticised the proposal when the council’s Planning Committee met at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 10 July).

Ms Hobbs said that ecological surveys carried out on the site were “inadequate” and disputed findings about the number of badger setts there.

A report to the Planning Committee said that there were eight badger setts of which five were in use.

Ms Hobbs said that there were more and added that people living in new developments in Saltdean were complaining about badgers because homes had been built on the animals’ setts.

She mentioned the protest campaign Extinction Rebellion and said: “This will be the next Newbury bypass. There will be protests. Extinction Rebellion are sitting on our doorstep.”

She reminded the council about campaign in Whitehawk where another project put forward by the council’s joint venture with Hyde had been shelved after protests.

The campaign was led by East Brighton ward councillor Nancy Platts, who is now the Labour leader of the council, and former Conservative council leader Mary Mears.

She urged the council to look at “brownfield” and derelict sites as well as Brighton General Hospital as alternative locations.

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty asked about the status of the Coldean site after suggestion that it was a “wildlife site”.

He was told that it was not in the Stanmer Park Conservation Area nor in the South Downs National Park and was not designated as a wildlife reserve.

But he was told that wildlife had been considered even without a “wildlife reserve” designation.

Councillor Mac Cafferty asked for a woodland management plan to be agreed – and his request supported unanimously by the Planning Committee.

Despite his reservations he said that he would support the scheme which had to address two important things.

He said: “We need affordable homes desperately and we need to look after the environment we live in.

“These are genuinely affordable homes when we are living through an affordability crisis.”

Labour councillor Gill Williams how the wildlife on the site would be maintained and managed.

County ecologist Kate Cole said that the small population of slow worms and common lizards could be managed on site and the habitat kept.

Of the eight badger setts, one was a main sett, one was unoccupied and the other six were “outliers”.

Three, including the unoccupied sett would be closed under licence from Natural England. Fencing would protect the remaining setts.

An artist’s impression of flats proposed for Coldean by Homes for Brighton and Hove, the joint venture between Hyde Housing and Brighton and Hove City Council

Conservative councillor Joe Miller asked about the reduced “section 106 contribution” – payments by developers towards infrastructure and community projects to offset the effects of a scheme.

He was concerned that it had been capped at £1 million for the scheme but the reason was because all the homes would be affordable.

Half the homes would be for shared ownership while half would be available at a “living rent”, making them affordable for people on the national living wage. The living rent rate is defined as 37.5 per cent of the market rate.

Of the £1 million developer’s contribution, £517,000 would go towards open spaces and indoor sports and £252,000 towards secondary and sixth form education, probably at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).

Councillor Miller opposed granting planning permission, saying: “I am concerned about the ecology and design. It looks like halls of residence which might be more useful.”

The joint venture’s plans are part of a bigger £120 million investment in building 1,000 truly affordable homes across Brighton and Hove.

Councillor Tracey Hill

The Coldean proposal is the first to achieve planning permission, after the joint venture dropped plans for its Whitehawk scheme.

Plans for 111 flats in a six-storey block and an eight-storey block in Clarendon Place, Portslade, are due to be decided by the Planning Committee in September.

Work is expected to start on the eight-acre site in in Coldean the new year, with construction taking between 18 months and two years.

Councillor Tracey Hill, who chairs the council’s Planning Committee, said: “This imaginative scheme will make an important contribution to helping us meet urgent local housing needs for those least able to afford a home.

“It will provide a mix of housing for residents on low incomes in the city.

“The proposal also seeks to provide more trees and chalk grassland than are currently on the site, offer long-term wildlife management and incorporate large areas of natural habitat within the development.”

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    At first it looked as though the Application would be Refused. Certainly it is bad architecture, and in a prominent place. The Meeting was much more professionaly handled by cllr Hills than by ex-cllr Cattell who used to impose her own views and slap down councillors’ (I was shocked by her telling cllr Littman, “that wasn’t worth saying”).

    In the Public Gallery people complained that they could not follow the Coldean presentation by the Council officer: she had no inflexion in her voice, it was a monotone which did not project despite a microphone – and the item lasted almost two hours.

    At that rate, the meeting will last until ten o’clock (and the Councillors then tottering into The Blind Busker). This item had been brought forward so that the County Ecologist could go home.

    The objector did herself no favours by mouthing off while others were speaking.

  2. Julie Cattell Reply

    Ex-Cllr Hawtree, who was so bad he was replaced as Chair of Planning, is, as usual, delusional. Expressing my own views – god forbid! Is that not allowed? Leo & I get on very well enjoyed a bit of banter from time to time. But you have no sense of humour so I wouldn’t expect you to get that. You spend too much time with that awful Paynter woman…

    • Rolivan Reply

      Surely you are supposed to be making decisions for the benefit of the Council Taxpayers and Residents of the City and keep your opinions to yourself at Council meetings.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      No, the Green Party councillors choose the Chairs each year, and in 2013 they narrowly decided that as I had even more narrowly been chosen over Phelim as MP candidate that I should give my time to that – and, in the circumstances, did well (beat the better-funded ukip). Meanwhile, I felt – and feel – that to Chair a Committee one is there to foster an atmosphere in which all of the Committee is free to speak, however one might regard their views. Mrs. Ramsay puts this well in To the Lighthouse, and I think that today cllr Hill did so too: it is quite a moment when a Chair has to get together the gubbins, as it were, for something which goes against the Recommendation. Meanwhile, as for your assertion about how I spend my time, I can only say that a drone would wear out its batteries while watching me reading on a sofa and listening to music! What’s more, as I am in a charitable mood this evening, I shall not mention the documented case upon which former cllr Summers and I were asked to sit in.

  3. Rostrum Reply

    Good decision…. Homes for people who need them badly….. More of this please…

  4. Simon Phillips Reply

    Is it absolutely guaranteed, that this will be for residents desperate for a home and not for more bloody students???
    And exactly where is this going to be built?
    Is it on the green grassy space opposite Hikers Rest?
    It looks to me, like it’s similar to the student flats further up? That means cutting down a lot of the woods and a large area where people walk through the woods?
    That would be devastating?
    Can’t they find another more suitable place to build?
    There’s the green spot at the top of Bear Road. You’ve got the old bus station at the bottom of Moulscoomb Way? Local residents would be glad to see the back of it?
    You’ve got that graffiti stained office block in Preston Road that’s been an empty eyesore for must be two decades?
    How many offices buildings that have sat idle since construction?
    Maybe part of the Wild Park near the car wash?
    Withdean stadium which seems completely underused?
    The site of the old American Express building in Edward Street is just sitting there?
    And the Amex Stadium, that causes such traffic chaos for Asda shoppers and people trying to get home in Hollingbury and Ditchling Road?
    It should never have been built there and Waterhole would have ideal! A trainstation could have been built as well as a car park that could have doubled up as a Park n Ride?
    Mill Lane. Already used as park and ride. You’ve got all all that area around there?
    There must be many more?

    • Rolivan Reply

      ‘Waterhall’ sits on the Main water supply for Brighton so I doubt very much will be ever possible to build there.Alongside the Amex would make avery good Multi Storey Park and ride.Remember how the Regency Sq Car Park was built,if you drive past you wouldn’t think it was an underground car park.The City Planners need to start thinking out of the box for a change.
      I think you will find the development is further up Coldean Lane.

  5. Antony Brown Reply

    I’m 56 years old. I am a resident of Coldean and have been since the day I was born. Growing up we were blessed with the green spaces and countryside around us and there was a fantastic sense of community. The Varley halls didn’t exist, nor did the bypass. Student let’s or HMO’s were unheard of. The university was a fraction of the size it is today. Buses were frequent enough and there was always space for those that needed it… even during the school run and/or rush hour. Most people took pride in their gardens or looked after their elderly neighbours, and it was a great place for kids to play out. But times change…
    Since those formative years where I fell in love with the place, i’ve watched the Varley Halls be built and steadily expand. In the late 80’s the bypass cut through the great wood and the fields that sat below it, but thank god… through the planting of tree’s and some clever landscaping by the designers it’s blended in and become nigh on invisible. The noise pollution is bearable and is probably offset by the benefit it bought to Coldean residents by the amount of traffic it took away from the lane which invariably became a bottleneck. Also in this time the university has expanded beyond belief to the state where it’s become almost a mini town in its own right. With the expansion of the university has come the growth of HMOs. Opportunist property developers or investors have moved in to snap up the cheap affordable housing that DID exist, converting really nice 2 or 3 bed family homes into student let’s with 6 to 9 bedrooms & one communal room as they try to maximise their profits or incomes. This in itself artificially inflated the house prices in the area, making what was once considered an affordable place for young families to move to quite the opposite. You can generally tell the houses now when you walk round the streets as the gardens are unattended, or the bins are overflowing with seagulls and foxes picking at the scraps. The parties and noise from many (not all) of these houses is driving the families around them crazy, and no matter how many times you politely ask them to show some respect, nothing is changing, it’s getting worse. The police aren’t interested but In all honesty probably don’t have the capacity as the issue has now become too big for the amount of resources they have. The bus stops for THE RESIDENTS particularly at the bottom end of Hawkhurst Road, are often overcrowded. I’ve heard people say there’s certain times where they’ve given up on trying to get one during certain hours and for the friends of mine that live near the bus stop I lost count of the number of times they had to go out and ask people to keep the noise down. Situations like this leave the RESIDENTS feeling intimidated.
    In recent months there’s been a green initiative to let the grass verges grow and plant trees to encourage pollinators. That along with the unattended gardens is starting to make Coldean look scruffy. The number of families in the area is decreasing as we are becoming over run by students.
    I’m all for progress, and supporting education. I’m all for having affordable housing and I’m even all for supporting encouraging pollinators, but the way it’s being approached in our area runs roughshod over the needs of the RESIDENTS. Stop allowing HMO’s, in actual fact… why don’t you make them illegal in a residential estate like ours (within reason). Stop expanding the university and as for the pollinators… if you leave the damn fields around us alone, job done!!! Start thinking of the RESIDENTS and please give us a bit more credit than the spin you’re putting on it of creating more affordable housing as all your doing is killing our community and lining the pockets of wealthy investors that quite frankly (in my opinion) don’t give two figs about the RESIDENTS of Coldean.

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