OPINION

Planning appeal verdict sends clear message to developers: We will only accept the best

Posted On 12 Jan 2022 at 11:21 am

The outcome of the planning appeal hearing, held before Christmas, that rejected the proposal to impose a 94-unit seven-floor monolith on to the community in Cromwell Road, Hove, was a real victory for our city.

A visualisation of the RKO Developments plan for 94 flats in Cromwell Road, Hove, on the corner of Palmeira Avenue, seen from the west

It was also a vindication for the hundreds of local people, Labour ward councillors Jackie O’Quinn and John Allcock – and Peter Kyle MP – who have campaigned tirelessly for quality housing in the ward rather than the dull and unimaginative tower blocks attempted.

The planning inspector agreed with the formal motion put by Councillor Fishleigh, Councillor Theobald and I, along with a majority of the council’s Planning Committee in September 2020, that the proposal was inappropriate in scale and design for the area.

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The views of Councillors Allcock, O’Quinn and Ebel were critical in representing their community.

And they spoke eloquently and passionately about the importance of good urban design and respect for local community need as opposed to the fawning permissiveness to any development that has become the norm of the Tory government and their Brighton and Hove hangers-on.

I note with disappointment the support for the project provided by Tory councillor Joe Miller and the former Tory, now Independent, councillor Tony Janio.

In September 2020, I argued that the proposed development offered little for our communities.

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It was ugly, out of keeping with the area and scandalously included no affordable housing in a city that suffers some of the largest housing shortages in the UK.

The developers offered little by way of sustainability in build and proposed heating.

The proposal felt like an insult to our city because it was.

We desperately need new housing but we must not make the mistakes, albeit well-intentioned, of the permissiveness of 1960s and 70s urban planning.

We must instead ensure that we create high-quality, beautiful and sustainable buildings and places. Places that we feel proud to live in and proud to house people in. Places that will sustain and stand the test of time. That will add to our communities, not wreck them.

We want developers to build great homes alongside those being erected by the council, under Labour’s 2019 commitment to commission or build 800 council homes by 2023.

But we have a right as a city to demand the best both in terms of sustainability and design. And we also have the right to tell big business developers that we will say no if they come to our city to extract maximum profit with nothing to offer our residents in return.

We did so with the Poundshop Dubai offering at the Marina and we did so again on this occasion.

As politicians, there must be no fear or favour when it comes to big development – unlike the Tory government, we must place our residents and not property developers first.

Affordable, energy-efficient homes that are sympathetic to local character and history and create places with good facilities – shops, cafés, green spaces, community rooms, playgrounds and bicycle storage – must be demanded even in the face of national government deregulation of planning laws.

If this means a few less units and marginally less profit then so be it.

If you want to build in our city the message is clear – we will only accept the best for our citizens and fight anything less.

Councillor Nick Childs speaks for Labour on Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Yes, there must be contuining resistance to boil-in-a-bag architecture.

  2. Gareth Hall Reply

    Let’s hope the planning committee make the right decision about the outline planning consent for toads hole valley coming up in the next few months
    and refuse the current plan

  3. Rob H Reply

    Ironically, the flats actually looked to be reasonably high quality, architecturally speaking. There’s plenty of other large buildings in Davigdor Road as well, so they would not have been unprecedented. Whilst I’m pleased to see an emphasis on aesthetic considerations, experience shows that you could propose the world’s most perfectly beautiful housing yet conceived in all human history and the local populace would still be up in arms about it, raising petitions etc… And then politicians, seeking to bolster their own position, feel they must side with the objectors. Meanwhile, we still can’t house ourselves properly in this country.

  4. Mike Beasley Reply

    Yes Nick. Perhaps you would have approved it if the developer behind it was the brother of the Momentum founder,Mr Lansman?
    That never happens, does it?

  5. Richard Pringe Reply

    This had nothing whatever to do with Labour or Tory policies. This was the latest in a series of peverse decisions. The application was originally recommended for consent by planning officers who had presumably scrutinised the plans and given due consideration to the objections before doing so.

    This advice was politely ignored by the committee. Moreover, one of the committee actually remarked on the number of objections. This has no relevance to whether the application satisfied the criteria set by the local plan, or, indeed, the validity of any application.

    The difference with this application was that on appeal wealthy residents were able to raise the funds to engage consultants to find some means of frustrating it, and nothing to do with local or national government policy.

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