The Weekly Review 7
In the Headlines
The 40% mirage
Martin Homes Whitehawk Way Ltd secured planning permission in November 2017 for a five- storey building at the former NHS Whitehawk Clinic in Whitehawk Road. Then in the following year it was reported that an agreement was signed that stated that 40 per cent, that is 15, of the 38 homes would be provided as “affordable” housing, with eight units for rent and seven in shared ownership. But that was then; recently the District Valuer Service (DVS) reviewed the assessment and confirmed that ten units could be provided on-site, plus a section 106 contribution of £56,664. This amount is an insult; it would provide very little in the way of community infastructure.
The director of planning, Guy Dixon, for Savill Brighton, which is the agent for Martin Homes, put his ‘two pennies worth’ in by saying: “The DVS has independently assessed the development and has said Martin Homes can afford to supply ten affordable houses on site or 26 per cent.” Well, Mr Dixon, that’s not 40%. Dixon apparently went on to say: “Our client has run into financial difficulties with their lender on this scheme as a result of a significant increase in build costs due to the inflationary effects caused by Covid, Brexit and more recently the war in Ukraine.” Ah, yes, those three old chestnuts that make excuses needs. It’s a real shame for businesses, big and small, in these uncertain economic times, but to renege on an agreement in this way is unacceptable. Ask your friends for help, or take the hit on this one, break even and move on. See your action in honouring your initial agreement as doing a good deed.
As we were just about to publish the Planning department saved the day by rejecting the developer’s bid to reduce the number of affordable homes. This decision might have been helped by the housing campaigner Daniel Harris, who spoke against the application at the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 2 November. He was reported to have said that he was particularly concerned that the site, that used to be in public ownership as the Whitehawk NHS Clinic in Whitehawk Road, would end up with limited affordable housing.
He also said: “Martin Homes operates out of tax havens and is also developing another former council-owned building at 80 Buckingham Road.” We cannot substantiate the “out of tax havens” claim, but let’s hope they don’t run into any financial difficulties in Buckingham Road because of Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine.
We praise the courage of the planning committee and the effort of Daniel Harris; they both have put people’s needs first.
Note: Councillors voted seven to one to reject the application. Independent councillor, former Conservative Tony Janio is reported to have said: “In the end, we’re relying on people with money making a return on that money and investing in these properties. This committee seems to think capitalism is a massive blob of money that’s going to go anywhere and do anything that it seems to want to do.”
Partly Sourced from Brighton and Hove News
On Wednesday 2 November planning permission for the £7 million first phase of repairs to 40 of the grade II* listed arches was passed by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee by a unanimous vote. The Madeira Terrace in its heyday was a thing of beauty. A beauty that has declined into an embarrassing eye sore after years of council neglect, and therefore we welcome the decision to start to save a major heritage asset. What we don’t welcome is the design of the new lift. This new lift is not a thing of beauty. Cllr Nick Childs was reported to have said “I don’t like the lift. I think it is rather dull and out of keeping with the architecture but the overall benefits of the application really outweigh this. It’s crucial this area is regenerated.” It is crucial, Mr Childs, that this area is regenerated, but can you and others in the council please stop using the get out clause “overall benefits outweighs other…” The new lift is a dull box structure that does not reflect the existing shelter hall design. Get an architect who can combine traditional beauty with functionality. After all Mr Childs, you did ask the committee why the new lift did not reflect the existing shelter hall design?
The Madeira Terrace deserves better. We suggest that all the planning committee put their aesthetic hats on if they have any and demand a better design.
Partly Sourced from Brighton and Hove News
Tweets of the Week
It’s the same old song: All words no Action
Film of the Week
There was a time in our past when one could walk down any street and be surrounded by harmonious buildings. Such a street wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t necessarily even pretty, but it was alive. The old buildings smiled, while our new buildings are faceless. The old buildings sang, while the buildings of our age have no music in them. ― Jonathan Hale
Queen Victoria of Victoria Gardens Brighton has her arm back. All smiles!