A masterplan for the Hove Station Quarter has won the backing of voters by a margin of more than ten to one in a referendum.
One of the team behind the plan said that it would bring hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment into the local community.
Mike Gibson, of the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum, said that it would also strengthen the case for more “affordable” housing, better traffic management and more street tree-planting.
More than a thousand residents voted in favour of the Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan which is now expected to become part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s formal planning policies.
Councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the council’s Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee, said: “Neighbourhood plans sit alongside other local planning policies to guide development and to help decide the outcome of planning applications in the area.”
He thanked the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum for their work in drawing up the masterplan in consultation with the local community.
With a similar plan approved in Rottingdean, he extended his thanks to “the residents in each area whose votes will help shape the future of their community”.
Councillor Robins added: “These are the first neighbourhood plans to compete the process and become part of our planning policy.
“Consultation is currently under way on the Brighton Marina Neighbourhood Plan and we hope other areas of the city will soon follow suit and bring forward their own plans.”
Mr Gibson, who chairs the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum, said: “This decisive result gives the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum a clear mandate to continue working with the local community to deliver the neighbourhood plan vision of a new Hove Station Quarter.”
He said that the result entitled the community to benefit from local investment of developer contributions – known as “section 106” money and the community infrastructure levy (CIL) – to deliver improvements in the area.
He added: “It strengthens the case for the delivery of community priorities including a higher level of affordable housing, street tree-planting and effective traffic management required by the continuing growth of our neighbourhood.”
The referendum was held on Friday (9 February) and the yes vote means that the council will be legally required to allocate 25 per cent of developer contributions to the area.
They are expected to be spent on improvements to parks, pavements, roads and shopping areas, with a six-figure sum expected over the next few years.
The forum also hopes to win concessions from developers about, for example, the height of new blocks of flats and to persuade the council to enforce agreements that ban parking permits for new tenants.
After more than eight years of work by an independent group of volunteer residents in preparing the masterplan, one of the local councillors, Trevor Muten praised them.
Councillor Muten said: “I am pleased to see so many local residents engaged with this democratic process with a clear majority of voters choosing to support the Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan in this local referendum.
“As a Goldsmid Ward councillor, I am very much looking forward to working alongside residents of the Hove Station neighbourhood to help deliver the Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan, an important integral part of wider plans for our city.”
Looking ahead, the forum intends to continue its dialogue with the Royal Mail as it looks to close its Denmark Villas premises and move to a purpose-built distribution centre in Patcham.
The council wants homes built on the site but the forum is concerned that any plans include social rented housing in blocks no taller than nine storeys and in a car-free scheme.
The forum is also looking to work with Conway Street landowners as current work and future plans for the Brighton and Hove Buses depot take shape.
The bus company, Network Rail and the council are part of a new working group and the forum is keen, among other things, for a better footbridge.
The turnout was just over 15 per cent, with 1,348 residents voting in favour of the plan and 102 voting against.
Roz Scott is a freelance journalist. To read more of her articles or subscribe to her blog, visit www.rozscott.com.