Hard on the heels of the Local Plan Inspector’s shock decision on the percentage of affordable housing on brownfield sites, permission to build homes on a site in Withdean has been refused by Brighton & Hove City Council.
The Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership (BHEP) supported the building of affordable housing on this plot and responded positively to the planning application. Tony Mernagh, Executive Director for the BHEP says, "It is sad that the site has been rejected because there is an appalling shortage of suitable land for the development of much needed affordable housing in and around Brighton."
Developers wanted to build 112 affordable homes on open land near Redhill Close. It would have been the first major site devoted entirely to affordable homes in the city. The Council's planning committee refused permission at a meeting on Wednesday 25 February.
The planning committee decided the site, formerly private playing fields and now overgrown open space partially covered by a tree preservation order, should be left green and open. But the land is still in private hands and anyone using it is technically trespassing. The Withdean and Westdene Residents Association has applied for outline planning permission to restore the playing fields with additional community facilities but there is no guarantee that they can raise the capital needed or that the owners will sell the land. The owners, Braybon Holdings, have the option to appeal against the decision which may be successful if a robust and realistic plan to bring back the fields into active use as a sports facility cannot be developed in the very near future.
The proposed development went against the council's policy of developing brownfield sites before green. Planners also thought that schools and doctors' surgeries in Withdean would not be able to accommodate all the extra people the development would attract.
Tony Mernagh commented that, "This was a poor excuse as market forces would without doubt bring new practitioners into the area and with careful planning schooling for all the extra children could be provided."
Cllr Bob Carden, chair of the planning committee, said: "We try to preserve precious green spaces in the city. It's our policy to redevelop existing buildings rather than build on new land to try and safeguard sites such as this."
Click on the download below to view the BHEP response to the planning application. MS Word file. 27KB
Click here to download BHEP Response to Redhill Close Planning Application
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