Gasworks Development : BHCC Failures Chapter 7 – Failure to clarify the status of the Planning Application in Feb 2022
This the seventh article in our series of ten Chapters detailing Brighton & Hove City Council’s failures in relation to the Gasworks development. Read on…..
The first six instalments have already been published on the Brighton Society website. These are:
Chapter 1 : Introduction
Chapter 2 : The attempt to extend the Marina Tall Buildings zone on to the Gasworks site
Chapter 3 : Failure to respond to multiple Freedom of Information requests.
Chapter 4 : Failure of both the Council and the Berkeley Group to respond to the Gasworks Coalition’s concerns about the public consultation.
Chapter 5 : Failure to comply with the Council’s own rules in validating the planning application
Chapter 6 : Failure to ensure that the Planning Application documents posted on the Planning Portal were clear and properly titled to show the content of each document.
Here is Chapter 7
About 3 months after the planning application had been submitted the Council seemed surprised at the 600 or so objections which had been submitted. Chapter 5 has described the events leading up to this point.
In that article we summarised the situation as follows:
“….we are now in a sort of no-man’s-land where the application is proceeding, the Council are attempting to draw up an as yet undefined list of further issues to discuss with the developer, the results of which will be put out for some form of public consultation, the timescale for which is unknown.” (Extract from our email to the Head of Planning dated 1 February 2022).
As described in Chapter 5, the status of the Gasworks planning application remained unclear.
In the absence of answers from the Head of Planning to our questions there was a vacuum at the heart of the Council’s responsibility to inform the community of what is happening – if indeed anything was happening at all.
To judge from the reply from the Council’s legal advisor to Cllr Platts (see Chapter 5), it appeared that a Financial Viability Assessment might be lodged by Berkeley St William by 16 March at the latest. (As a postscript to this, it wasn’t – more disinformation).
At the time, we had no information as to whether it would be fully open book, available for public examination and comment, or even whether it would include proposals for any affordable housing at all.
For all we knew, the FVA might even have turned out to be a justification to provide no affordable housing whatsoever. Perhaps the Council didn’t know what was going on either. After all, the planning application procedure seemed to be being controlled by Berkeley St. William.
Would there be revised proposals to take account of the 650 objections including the objections from Coalition members such as the Brighton Society, AGHAST, the Regency Society, the Kemp Town Society and others, not to mention national organisations such as Save Britain’s Heritage, HSE and other Statutory Consultees?
What was the status of the 650 or so objections already lodged? Would they still be taken into account if revised proposals were submitted? Or would new objections be called for? And if so, would the Council commit to contacting all those who have objected to inform them of the new proposals? After all, because of GDPR regulations and their interpretation, only the Council has the contact details for all 650 objectors.
It seemed incredible to us at the time, that the Council appeared determined to ignore our perfectly reasonable requests and was utterly failing to communicate with us – i.e. the community. So much for the Council’s commitment to community involvement.
Yet it was presumably having plenty of discussions with the developer.
It isn’t as though the Coalition was composed of a group of extremists – all 16 members were reputable amenity societies and community groups in Brighton & Hove most of whom are Registered Charities and have an excellent claim to represent a fair proportion of the community in the city.
We asked at the time:
How many more failures by the Planning Dept will we have to put up with before this highly unsatisfactory situation is resolved?
We actually had to wait until late Nov that year (2022) to discover that Berkeley had submitted a revised planning application. There was still no firm commitment to provide affordable housing.
Yet another Council failure.