OPINION

If Conservatives are serious about protecting urban fringe, they should lobby colleagues in Westminster

Posted On 25 Sep 2020 at 12:01 am

City Plan Part 2 is a blueprint for providing homes and jobs, protecting the environment and guiding local planning decisions for the next decade.

Almost 90 per cent of the land allocated for development is on brownfield sites, with 180 identified which could provide 8,000 homes.

To give you an indication of demand, Brighton and Hove City Council is expected to ensure enough space to meet our housing needs for the next five years.

The planning inspector expects us to find space for 13,200 at a minimum by 2030 – but ideally more because that number won’t meet the demand.

Our council house waiting list alone has around 9,000 people waiting for a home and that’s before the key workers and many people on low incomes and young people who don’t qualify for social housing but need somewhere to live.

The city’s average rent is currently £987 a month which is unaffordable for most.

City Plan aims to meet our housing target by focussing on affordable, council and social housing, on primarily brownfield land.

Unfortunately, the National Planning Policy Framework is restrictive and forced us to identify some urban fringe sites to meet our housing target. Sites like Whitehawk Hill, Benfield Valley and Horsdean where we shouldn’t have to build.

In our letter to government, Labour and Green councillors expressed “increasing frustration from local residents and communities wondering why we have to lose some of the city’s valued green spaces just to show we can make up the general housing numbers set by a government appointed planning inspector several years ago while not meeting the genuine housing needs of local people”.

Unfortunately, while the Conservatives claim they are campaigning to save our urban fringe, they refused to join us in lobbying government to give us the powers to do so.

It’s the government’s planning framework that forced the inclusion of urban fringe sites and their new designs on planning will see local authorities have even less control over development in their areas.

So, less protection for urban fringe sites and more freedom for developers to ride roughshod over local concerns.

Yet again, I call on Conservative colleagues to back their words up with action. If you’re serious about protecting the urban fringe, lobby your colleagues in Westminster to abandon their “developer’s charter” and give councils the powers to protect green spaces.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Peter Reuben Reply

    It’s ironic that covid could lead to many of the thousands of student property lets currently being built in Brighton remaining empty while thousands of people remain on the council house waiting list.
    It just shows how ill-planned and mis-managed town planning policy and implementation was carried out by incompetent and unfit for purpose, Labour and Green local politicians who are still at the helm now.

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