Enplan, the agents representing the owners of Toads Hole Valley, have produced a vision document outlining what the valley could offer to the city if the 46 hectare site is developed. It could be truly transformative.
The vision document outlines how the site will accommodate a new community of 700 highly sustainable homes [40% affordable], high-tech office space, a new school & grounds and an ecology park open to the public with enhanced biodiversity and accessibility.
The development follows and complements the grain of the valley with proposals for largely family homes of two storeys built at a density of 45 dwellings per hectare [dph]; the minimum recommended in the City Plan [which should help to scupper the inevitable accusations of over-development that seem to accompany every proposal].
The Toads Hole Valley development will follow One Brighton in New England Quarter by adopting One Planet Living Principles but on a giant scale.
A large part of the valley floor is devoted to a desperately needed new school on a 5 hectare site close to the steep western bank which is an existing site of nature conservation interest [SNCI] but has been poorly maintained. The vision document proposes to enhance the biodiversity of the bank and enlarge the SNCI into an “ecology park” with cycle access from the surrounding area. This will help to satisfy the need for more publicly accessible green space [Toads Hole Valley is currently private property not open to the public] highlighted in the city’s Open Space, Sports & Recreation Study. The total amount of green space that will remain after development is impressive, as is the linking of existing green spaces to the valley e.g. 3 Cornered Copse and Green Ridge.
Also at the heart of the site is a community hub for potential social, health and retail facilities. Because it is cheek-by-jowl with the school it offers the opportunity for the school to become a community hub as well.
Perhaps the most ingenious proposal in the vision document is the wholesale realignment of King George VI Avenue to the northern edge of the valley to run parallel to the A27 bypass. This will effectively remove through traffic from the existing avenue allowing the creation of a linear Greenway between the new residential area and Goldstone Valley. The residents of Goldstone Valley facing King George VI Avenue currently live with traffic noise that averages 70 decibels and can peak at 90 decibels [the equivalent of factory machinery at one metre]. When traffic is removed from it they will only be exposed to the 50 decibel hum of the bypass [the equivalent of a quiet street] half a kilometre away across the valley.
Removing through traffic from King George VI Avenue will join the new development with Goldstone Valley ensuring that it does not become an isolated island. The relocated route will also benefit from a gradient gentler than the 1:10 seen on the western end of the Avenue that has made it an accident black spot.
Download the Vision Document
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
The current government’s pro-development attitude was made clear in the National Planning Policy Framework [see earlier story] and reinforced with a series of attacks on the planning system which it sees as the enemy of enterprise [see earlier story]. It is inevitable that this valley will be developed and the owners are under no obligation to work with the city to deliver what it needs. They could submit a planning application tomorrow for as many bog-standard houses as the site would hold without any of the expensive bells and whistles that make them highly sustainable and none of the other benefits like a school and business space and stand an excellent chance of getting consent.
Fortunately, as the vision document amply demonstrates, they have no desire to do this.
Even putting housing on this site, the city is still well over 7,000 homes short of projected need over the next 20 years. In human terms that means families, many of them born in the city, that we will simply not be able to accommodate either in terms of housing or education or employment space.
Although the Toads Hole Valley story has been literally decades in the making, it is still very early days. There will be a lot more work and a lot more consultation before the details are finalised and a concrete planning application can be submitted; but the owners are keen to get on with it.
The outline presented today represents a vision the city deserves; all those who care about the city's current and future generations should support this vision and help to turn it into reality.
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