Steep hillside prompts developer to revise housing plans at Brighton site

A controversial housing scheme in Saltdean is back before planners because the land is so steep.

The scheme, to build 32 homes on land off Falmer Avenue, was granted planning permission on appeal in 2017 after Brighton and Hove City Council initially rejected the application.

Permission runs out on Friday 21 February and the council’s Planning Committee is advised to allow a revised scheme, with changes to the layout, when it meets next week.

The developer Hyde Housing said that the original layout was designed by architects without input from a civil engineer, resulting in practical problems with the site.

In a design and access statement Hyde’s agent Westridge Construction said: “Given the steep gradients found on the development site, it was found that the gradients provided by the original design proposal did not permit the safe movement of vehicles around the site.

“The hairpin corner outside plots 14 to 17 was too narrow and sharp a turn to permit access by both refuse and fire appliances.

“Also, the design concept for the development was one where a shared surface was to be used for both pedestrians and vehicles.

“We have eased the corner and adjusted the gradients to make the road as safe as practically possible by also reducing the road width and with the introduction of visual deterrents to keep the speed of vehicles as slow as possible.”

When the original application went before the committee four years ago, more than 4,000 people signed a petition against it and sent 300 letters of objection.

And protests were held at Brighton Town Hall before a three-day inquiry by a planning inspector who backed the scheme.

This time 71 letters of objection have raised concerns about missing trees, loss of privacy, increased traffic and the impact on the South Downs National Park.

Neighbours cited the planning inspector’s conditions when making their objections.

One person, whose details were redacted by the council on its website, said: “This is a deliberate attempt to make the separation distances between the new properties and existing homes appear greater than they are to gain approval.

“When passed by Kenneth Stone, the planning inspector, on appeal, he listed certain conditions, one being the removal of all permitted development rights to maintain neighbours’ amenity.”

Another objector wrote: “Despite the road layout being amended yet again, it clearly remains unsafe.

“Large long vehicles moving around the development will be mounting the (new) kerbs.

“Large lorries are increasingly being used for kerbside deliveries, presumably to save costs and so 7.5-metre-long vehicles are not unusual in our streets.”

Rottingdean Coastal ward councillor Mary Mears has also voiced her oppostition to the new application.

She said that the “variation” should be refused and a new planning application should be submitted “if the development can’t be built as it was presented to the planning inspector”.

She criticised “the need to completely change the unworkable layout and the requirements to increase the size of the homes”, adding: “This is a substantial change to the original application in 2014.”

The council’s Planning Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall next Wednesday (5 February). The meeting is scheduled to start at 2pm and should be open to the public.

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