Developers have shared a first look at plans for housing to be built on urban woodland described as Hove’s “last green lung”.
A two-week public consultation opened today on two options for up to 100 homes across Benfield Valley in Hangleon.
Hollybrook Homes is proposing either spreading homes across both sites or only on the northern half. In both scheme, 40 percent of the homes would be affordable.
The first, Option A, would see about 60 homes on the land to the north and about 40 homes on the land to the south of Hangleton Lane.
The second, Option B, would be to build homes only on the private land north of Hangleton Lane, currently used as a footgolf course, leaving the land to the south as a community parkland.
A renovation of Benfield Barn is also included in both schemes, with suggested uses including a community hub, a wildlife centre, the start of nature trail, a country café using allotment produce, a dog washing facility, beekeeping, or kids nature colouring.
The exhibition boards in the public consultation said: “Our ambition is to sympathetically renovate Benfield Barn for community use and to bring back to life its associated structures, with cottages and work units, better linking it to the existing local community and the new homes.”
The developers are asking local residents in a survey which design option they would prefer, the investment and activities they would like to see in the Benfield Valley parkland and what community uses for Benfield Barn could be suggested.
The plans also used photographs of a Cambridge housing scheme at Great Kneighton by the developer’s architects, Proctor and Matthews.
David Godden, project director from Hollybrook Homes, said: “We have appointed a high quality design team who have reviewed the site very carefully and consider there could be a better alternative approach which delivers benefits to the local community and reduces the environmental impact of the scheme within the Valley.
“We would very much like to hear people’s views on the idea of combining the housing site, and to safeguard and enhance the open area south of Hangleton Lane as community parkland.
”We are committed to the long-term management of the valley and working collaboratively with the local community.
“We have a real opportunity here to do something very positive, which not only delivers much needed homes, including 40 percent affordable housing, but also invests in the ecology and recreation of Benfield Valley.”
In option B, the land to the south of Hangleton Lane – currently used by dog walkers and BMX cyclists – would be kept as community parkland which could include new wildlife areas, footpaths, signage and seating.
The developer’s exhibition boards say the parkland would have a mix of recreational footpaths and ecological areas, while retaining and improving the BMX track.
Benfield Valley, described by campaigners as a green lung between Hangleton and Portslade, contains a number of habitats for protected species of wildlife.
Brighton’s city plan, agreed by councillors in October 2022, allocates two sites in the valley for housing, meaning it is far more likely the schemes would be approved.
The public drop-in exhibition is open at Hangleton Manor pub from 4pm to 8pm today and tomorrow (Thursday, 30 November) where residents can see options and proposals, and give their feedback.
The plans will also be available online at benfieldpark.co.uk until Thursday, 14 December, with a survey to provide feedback: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BenfieldSurvey