Five-bedroom house approved on tree-covered site
Councillors approved detailed plans for a five-bedroom house on a tree-covered site,
The house is planned for an empty plot next to a property known as Hillside, in Ovingdean Road, Brighton.
But it faced objections from Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh and the Ovingdean Preservation Society, who raised concerns about protected trees on the land.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee members deferred the application in October to receive more information about the trees.
Since then, planning officials, landowner Bulent Ekinci’s agent Umut Kilic and the council’s tree officer Paul Davey have visited the site.
Mr Ekinci, 48, has since submitted more detailed proposals, in the name of his company Black Homes, for the two-storey house on the empty plot along with revised landscaping plans.
Outline planning permission was granted in December 2019 and the Planning Committee was told that the detailed plans complied with the dimensions that had been agreed.
Councillor Fishleigh asked whether committee members had attended the site visit. She was told that only officials went along.
She said: “No trees with TPOs (tree preservation orders) were removed, but they have been damaged, and damaging trees with TPOs on them is a criminal offence.
“The law states that people cannot benefit financially from their crimes so if you grant planning permission today, then the value of the land will increase, and the applicant will benefit financially from his criminal behaviour.”
Councillor Fishleigh reminded the committee that she had put a motion to the council in December to enhance protections for trees with preservation orders. This included management and maintenance schemes. But the motion, she said, was “watered down”.
Ovingdean Preservation Society committee member Pam Wright, who lives near the site, said that residents were concerned about the application because the site was on a blind bend and risky for traffic.
She said: “In making their assessments, did traffic officers consider the potential speed of the traffic and the number of houses and riders and pedestrians, including school children using the road?
“It is deeply regrettable that so many trees are proposed to be felled to make way for this development. The new trees planted will take at least 20 years to reach the level of maturity of the sycamores that are to be removed.”
Independent tree consultant Greg Sweeney spoke in support of the application, having carried out the initial tree survey and produced the structural tree planting plan and landscaping scheme.
He said that there was no unlawful felling or cutting of trees and said that this had been confirmed at a meeting at the site in October.
Mr Sweeney said: “None of the cut trees were covered by a tree preservation order. Therefore no unlawful criminal behaviour has been conducted.
“Any tree works conducted on this site to date should not cloud considerations or judgment.”
Fourteen trees would be removed because of excavation work on the site, councillors were told, along with “two groups”. Four trees had already been removed.
The eight sycamores listed in the TPO will be removed as part of the agreed outline permission, as four are in the access way and four are within the building’s footprint.
Conservative councillor Carol Theobald, who used to live in the area, was the only committee member to vote against the application.
She said: “I do know the site. On the top of that hill, it is so dangerous for anyone to get in and out with a car. There’s no cycle lane provided.
“It’s such a shame for this area which is so near the South Downs National Park. It would ruin the view there. It’s just the wrong place and too big.”
Green councillor Leo Littman, who chairs the Planning Committee, said that the building complies with the outline planning permission for a two-storey building of 250 square metres and could not be “legally refused” based on size.
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Watch out for any councillors or officers who suddenly start driving brand new cars or have an extension on their houses.
No surprise, just like they allowed the forest area that Roger’s Wildlife used to release rehabilitated animals to build 4 new homes despite the fact that there is so much wildlife still there. The trees will never come back. Nor will the bats, badgers…
I think mick you need to do some homework. Weeds to you not to people who appreciate nature/wildlife. Have you ever seen a mature sycamore weed? The pavement/verge weeds were thoughtfully left to grow and to make a stand against the use of glyphosate and its dangers and to help boost the numbers of our wonderful insects which have tragically declined 60% world-wide.
I too will be watching out for those councillors driving new cars etc.
Sycamores are not trees, but a weed; judging by some pavements, councils seem to protect weeds!
I believe it’s an offence to blame councillors by emphasizing they drive new cars by approving developments etc. They deferred this application once requesting a mitigation tree report. More trees than the ones that would cut will be planted on site with a 45 year management plan. Outline permission was already granted to a previous owner who sold the land to the applicant. Please review the approval prior to making comments. Dear Sarah can you please report above comments regarding councillors and also inform them. Thank you