Response of the Brighton Society to the Draft City Plan (2)
DA8 – Shoreham Harbour
The development of Shoreham Harbour has the potential to create an environment for increased employment and as a location for a sizeable quantity of new residential units. The Joint Area Action plan which is referred to in the Draft City Plan, will be a critical document in developing the harbour but this plan will depend on agreement between three local authorities and the Harbour Board will take some time to finalise.
Developers have already put forward proposals for the south side of Kingsway (Portzed) so it would appear to be essential for the City Plan to at least include a strategy for the area within the Brighton and Hove boundary, particularly along the coast road from Hove Lagoon to Boundary road – the important “gateway” into the city as referred to in the Draft document, (clause 3.89). Any new developments within this area should have a relationship with the West Hove Estate, the housing to the north of the coast road between Boundary Road and Hove Lagoon. The draft plan should therefore include an aim for new developments to be sympathetic to the setting and scale of the existing West Hove housing.
The coast road also rises significantly towards the west with many stretches of the road running along the old cliff line. These areas have excellent views across the harbour to the sea, an asset that should be protected by planning strategy. How the developed harbour relates to the coast road and the existing housing to the north of the road is critical and we would suggest that the Draft City Plan should include strategic statements on positioning and scale of new developments along the northern boundary of the harbour.
Such policy statements should be included in the “Character Areas” that fall within the Brighton and Hove part of the harbour (page73). The exact locations of these “Character Areas” do not appear to be shown on any maps or illustrations in the draft. This should be rectified.
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DA4 – NEQ/London Road
We support these Development Area policies, particularly with regard to mixed use and office space, which would help the needs of both employment and housing.
Improvements to the London Road shopping area are essential and welcome. The new Open Market will achieve greater integration and accessibility for people living and shopping in the area along with the additional homes currently being built in association with Hyde Housing. We would prefer the vacant Co-op building to provide further mixed use of offices, retail and residential to support the existing community and revitalise the area rather than rooms for students.
London Road shop fronts are poorly designed and in bad repair. With joint support from the landlords and the Council the area could be transformed by reducing the frontage area and fascias of the shops and businesses to an improved design with the addition of repair to windows and frontage of the premises above, which are mostly flats.
We support key provision for vocational training in the city centre to support jobs for the future (3.41) but we question the proposal for expansion of facilities at City College, as this cannot be met in the long term. The reason for this is if the College sells or leases Pelham Tower for student accommodation a new-build on the College car park would not be large enough to accommodate the essential requirements needed for vocational studies, or be able to expand in the future. We would oppose a tall building.
It is essential that all new build and refurbishment should be an exemplar of sustainable living such as One Planet Living principles (3.34). This was first promoted for the whole of the New England Quarter, which, sadly, resulted in just one building being erected on these principles. For the new City Plan there is potential for joint action between the private sector, landowners, developers and the Council to meet the needs of sustainable living and improve the public realm across the City for the future.
The loss of ‘City Gate’ (above the vacant Blockbusters shop) is a concern. This was a community-led base for people of all ages to meet as groups of all ages for activities such as dancing and is a loss for local people, especially the elderly.
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DA7 TOADS HOLE VALLEY
The Brighton Society welcomes the opportunity to develop Toads Hole Valley with much needed housing, a school, small offices/workshops and a well landscaped park & ride site at Court Farm.
One Planet Living principles are admirable from a sustainability point of view, but there are many other principles, which should be incorporated into this opportunity to create an inspiring development on this site. One Planet Living schemes do not have to be ugly like the one in the New England Quarter.
Before any plans are drawn up we need to study existing residential developments to understand which ones work well in creating neighbourly schemes. We need to include a variety of solutions in order to attract a variety of residents of varying ages. We should not automatically include peppering the development with social housing before testing existing peppered places to find out whether they work as intended.
On the other hand we do not want to include recognizable social housing ghettoes. Elderly residents should not be hidden away in quiet corners, or in high buildings, away from passers by, they need to be able to observe, and feel part of, the outside world.
We must avoid a developer led hack housing scheme. Toad’s Hole Valley provides a wonderful opportunity to create a pleasing and worthwhile plan.
We also need to design a memorable street pattern, something that we have failed to achieve in Whitehawk. We need a street pattern where people can avoid other people if they want to, yet we should avoid streets or pathways where people can hide. Streets and pathways should be overlooked for safety reasons.
Background research into neighbourliness needs to start now. A detailed planning brief should be prepared without delay and the Council should make it clear that proposals that do not comply will not be considered.
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SA2 Central Brighton
We agree that there could be opportunities to attract new retailers to the city (3.114) but caution should be applied as shopping habits have changed whereby many people buy online and it is expected that numbers will increase.
We support the protection of existing and provision of new small unit independent retail space and that they should be carefully monitored and maintained (3.115).
We support the amendment to protect offices within the Central Brighton Area. It is imperative that rents and business rates are affordable to support this amendment (3.117).
We would encourage any strengthening of the Empty Property Strategy to bring flats above shops back into use.
We support pedestrian precincts in the Old Town.
It is not clear (3.1222) how the Council will seek to improve safety by encouraging a more balanced range of complementary evening and night-time economy uses. Brighton and Hove has the largest Cumulative Impact Area in the country.
Binge drinking is not a myth (contrary to what is documented by the Licensees Association) but we acknowledge that the some of the problems are due to pre-loading.
Visitors to the city are reluctant to stay in cheaper-priced hotels in the city because these hotels have a reputation for customers who are young and book rooms for stag/hen weekends This problem exacerbates the issues whereby people who want to come and stay for a period of time are either forced to pay high hotel charges or not visit the city at all.