Link to the Petition addressed to the Public Works Loan Board

Marks Barfield, who were either never able to finance i360 or had some in place that changed its mind so they ended up with NONE in place by the end of 2012, apart from their own £6m contribution, have now got over £40m of public money – £36.2m of it from the Public Works Loan Board, £4m from the Local Enterprise Partnership for the arms length i360 firm that protects their personal wealth.  When the i360 fails, as most think it will, the city will have to repay these huge loans – Brighton i360 Ltd would just fold its tent and write off £6m.  It is expected by some that BHCC would sell on the i360 at a knock-down price – say, to Noble? – and ‘only’ be liable for the residue. 
The loan from PWLB deed is done, the ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, 29.7.14….but sign just to count yourself in as not agreeing with what is being done with public money.  The public has had no say in this.  The PWLB  only cares if the money can be repaid and that BHCC declare it is for infrastructure.

Click here to access the i360 petition !

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The demanded City Plan, Pt 1 revisions. Have your say NOW

You know saveHOVE preaches the gospel of engagement at you; and, from our humble beginnings in the summer of 2005, have increasingly sought engagement at earlier and earlier stages of influence…..like…..before planning applications are ever even dreamt of: at the policy creation stage, where ground rules are set.  Indeed the saveHOVE associates were behind the creation of the council’s Medina House Planning Brief, having demanded one. The Local Plan, however,  (The City Plan will replace it) is the local authority’s ground zero stage.  A forward planning, foundation, policy document.

Sometimes “more honoured in the breach than in its observance”….nevertheless…..

Many of us engaged with creation of the Local Plan at the beginning of the century, right through to he Public Inquiry level, before it was agreed and adopted. Its’ complicated, bonkers, replacement through the Local Development Framework (LDF) has been a drawn out and messy affair. The City Plan is not born yet. Is not done. Is still in danger of non-acceptance from the Planning Inspectorate. Without it, the Local Plan becomes obsolete and the government’s dumbed down National Plannng Policy Framework applies, giving dangerous presumptions-in-favour green lights to developers.
It is SO depressing. Instead of trying to develop the north of England (even the Midlands), everything is on densifying the south of England up to its back teeth and releasing the brakes on putting more and more and more housing into this city (which competes for land with matching infrastructure needs that this brings). Already, under Eric Pickles, the Coalition has decreed developers can convert office space to housing without a planning application (mostly) which could potentially threaten employment areas. Our planners did what they could there and Article 4 Directions are in place for a slice of Central Brighton and City Park in Hove to at least force planning applications on those areas. Pickles point blank refused to exempt one inch of the city.  And the Article 4 Directions were then resorted to.
So here is the latest turn of the screw on the city:  a new re-consultation with changes and additions for what can go where as a matter of policy:  The City Plan Pt 1 reconsult
“MORE IDENTIFIED HOUSING SITES!” shrieked the Inspector at our downtrodden, understaffed planning strategy folk. To remind you:
1. Windfall housing figures are forward guesstimates, based on past evidence of creation, and covers people buying, converting, demolishing, building, blah, blah as and when. It was reliance on this part of the housing policy that Inspectors refused to accept.
2. Identified housing figures come from ring-fencing sites and areas with a policy that says how many units and where specifically that new housing will be created. And the Inspectors have threatened and demanded for this sector.
Please open the link above, and put your considered thoughts into the consultation. Why? Because when a planning application comes along, the City Plan, the plannng briefs, etc. are Controls and Givens before you even consider what it looks like or what the parking/traffic situation might be. You want a say in these things? Do it NOW, at the policy creation stage, where the rules of engagement are set.  As best you can.
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Hyde Housing, 65 units, no rentals proposal for Newtown Road

The derelict corner factory site in Newtown Road,  by St. Agnes deconsecrated church (now a gym), and up Goldstone Lane, finally has a redevelopment proposal:  a terrace of 6 houses with a block of 59 flats and 100 sq. metre offices space to be provided by Hyde Housing.
Hyde Housing put 253 invitations into resident and business premises around Newtown Road, Fonthill Road and along Conway Street to view proposals on Wednesday, 10th September between 3:30 – 7:30 pm  at their offices in Davigdor Road (which required people to travel to see them).
Computer generated images (CGI) were ranged along one side of a meeting room on propped boards.  Appallingly, there was no consistency in colour rendering from drawing to drawing and worse, on consultation response forms available for comments, the brickwork was described as grey and yellow and we were askd if we were OK with that.  See the CGI below.  Sample colours for bricks and terracotta were displayed on one board and architect Andy Parsons was adamant that the main brickwork would match St. Agnes Church – reddish, that the dark contrast brick is blue like at the Engineerium, a blackish blue; and, in a visual reference to the stonework on St. Agnes, the rooftop penthouse flats would be clad in grey terracotta.  How lovely that it is NOT in BLOODY ZINC!  The block of flats and St. Agnes would form a visual unit, colourwise, that would bolster and reinforce  St. Agnes’ presence and visual relevance.  That is one of the great positives of the scheme.
St. Agnes Church with proposed development.  The colouring on the CGI of the block of flats is WRONG here.  Brickwork is to match St. Agnes, with contrasting dark blue bricks and grey terracotta at penthouse level

St. Agnes Church with proposed development. Please note! The colouring on this CGI of the block of flats inserted into a photo of the existing context setting is WRONG. Brickwork is to match St. Agnes, with contrasting dark blue bricks and grey terracotta at penthouse level

Present were Hyde’s architect, Andy Parsons, from Yelo Architects, along with their planning consultant from Lewis Planning, who will organise the planning application.  The purpose of this exhibition was to gain consultation feedback (a requirement and it will go into the application). Below is the Hyde Housing representative who greeted us. 
The Hyde Housing representative in their Davigdor Road premises by one of the exhibition boards

The Hyde Housing representative in their Davigdor Road premises by one of the exhibition boards

Whilst Hyde had been to BHCC’s Planning Dept. to discuss proposals and take pre-planning advice from planning officers, the Hyde representative indicated there were no plans to take advantage of the opportunity for a pre-planning presentation to members of the Planning Committee to further avoid unacceptable details being incorporated into the application itself. These meetings DO lead to changes.
It was the Hyde Housing nightmare proposal for Park House which led the then Planning Chair, Cllr Lynda Hyde, to introduce pre-planning presentations to members of the committee.  The huge, outsize footprint of the Park House megalossus block of flats by Hove Park had been agreed by the planners in a way that committed the Planning Committee to that footprint size – taking that crucial decision away from them.  Pre-planning presentations are intended to  give the Planning Committee a voice before applications are even submitted.  It would be prudent for Hyde to change its mind on this. 

So what is proposed… 

What WAS proposed to planners was a terrace of 6 three-storey, 100 sq metre, houses for Goldstone Lane, their top floors set back to provide balconies; and an 8-storey block of flats for the corner site along Newtown Road.
Officers insisted on the height dropping to 6 storeys in line with the roof height of St. Agnes.  It would also be about safeguarding the proposed terrace, which would be to the north of this height and affected by overshadowing issues (just like the Medina House redevelopment constraint on Kings Esplanade).  But is this the best use of the land? 
There is a long-term need, specified in the emerging City Plan, to put 630 units of housing in the area bounded by Old Shoreham Road, Sackville Road, Goldstone Lane and down to the other side of the railway lines to below the 10-storey blocks in Clarendon Road.  Where can they go? 
A few of us did discuss this at the exhibition!  And the day before it, in an e-briefing from saveHOVE, providing links to the DA6 City Plan map and chart of BHCC use requirements, supporters and associates were given  something to bear in mind when considering the proposals.  “10% of the housing requirement on this site” said one man” on the day.  Glad he opened the link and read the bumpf!  Important to have this context in mind and to be considering which areas are best loaded with the big numbers to make the least impact on the area and existing residents. 
Hyde want to build the terrace to sell it for ready cash.  But does it mean putting less on the site than it can take?  It is something to really think about concerning the block of flats.  To the north is the Goldstone Retail Park’s extended rooftop up to and over Old Shoreham Road, so no overshadowing there.  To the west and to the south are the Newtown Road industrial sheds, storage and etc. which are not an issue for overshadowing/light loss.  That leaves only the Goldstone Lane residents to the east and they have gardens fed with sunlight from the east and from the south.  Clever design could cheat more to frontages from the west if flats extended up the lane instead of that terrace. 
Why too must St. Agnes be the height guide?  There is no other reference point to justify it.  And the area is close enough to be considered within the Hove Station Tall Building node.  It is the terrace of six jammed together small houses that is not making best use of space, but seems to have been included as a cash cow.  It does not offer a nice place to live in the overbearing shadow of the proposed 6 storey block of flats.  Hemmed in by that on one side and the Goldstone Retail Park on the other (which existing Goldstone Lane residents complain generates noise disturbance at all hours when large vehicles access the back of it).
Would it be better for the whole site to be a six-storey block with a whole ground floor employment space?  Please bear this question in mind as you (hopefully) read to the end of this article on the exhibition.
The view of proposals - looking westwards at it in Goldstone Lane

The view of proposals – looking westwards at it in Goldstone Lane. The colour rendering of the CGI is WRONG. It is reddish and blue/blackish bricks and grey terracotta at penthouse level

Landscaping detail for the Goldstone Lane entrance area of the proposed flats

Landscaping detail for the Goldstone Lane entrance area of the proposed flats. The CGI colours are wrong. The brown should be reddish like the church and the blue is nearly black.

Housing

It is intended that there be 65 units of housing in all.   Goldstone Lane is to be the entrance area for all 59 flats, the basement car and cycle park and the terrace of 6 houses.

What is downright shocking is that not one unit of this housing association scheme would be a rental unit.  The terrace of six houses would be for “outright sale”.  28 flats out of 59 in the block would be shared ownership – and Hyde insist this is their affordable 40% element.  29 of the flats would be for outright sale, the same as the 100 square metre terraced houses (though perhaps not outright, perhaps leasehold).  It waters down the entire remit of what a housing association is for.  What does Registered Social Landlord mean now?  Does it mean tenants in old stuff but making money out of newbuilds?  There are some questions here!  And perhaps Planning Committee councillors would like the opportunity to have a chat with Hyde BEFORE an application is submitted.  All newbuild development affordable housing is provided by housing associations.  So….  

Terrace of 6 houses, garden and car parking

Terrace of 6 houses, garden and car parking

This layout drawing for the terrace of 6 houses caused some discussion.  These are 100 square metre, 3 bedroom family homes across 3 floors (with a balcony on the top floor).  That is 20 square feet per family of 5 person.  It was confirmed as being to scale so consider:  The driveway is 3 car lengths long; the house is 1 1/2 car length deep and roughly 2 car widths wide; the garden is 2 car lengths long.  Think about that…..  Scowling and indignation greeted worries with comments such as these.  No; it isn’t cramped!  There will be storage space for all their accumulated possessions.  The houses would cost more to buy if made bigger.  No; these are not starter homes.  They are similar to te houses opposite…..etc.
Have a squint at the interior of the ground floor interior to judge for yourself.  The floor above has 2 bedrooms and presumably the top floor with balcony is the master bedroom.  When a Newtown Road resident was asked (he has kids), if he would choose to have the long driveway and garden or would prefer a bigger house, he did not hesitate.  “A bigger house”.  Families need space for sanity, quiet, play, activities, sound reduction and peaceful school work, etc. etc.  A tweet this week out of the USA provided the information that for the first time in its history more than 50% of its people are single.  The 20th and 21st centuries created stress-machine life.  So, is it so surprising?  Living alone gives those singles a lot more living space.  And that is there, where housing is so much bigger anyway.  Make housing tiny and you are asking for family breakups. We have to put a stop to this rabbit hutch stuff.

The gentleman from Lewis Planning revealed that Brighton & Hove has no space standards built into its Planning Policy documents.  Not in the Local Plan, City Plan, nowhere.  A supplementary planning document could be raised providing space and light standards which would have to be complied with (which is not the same as the Lifetime Homes Standards applied nationally).  Here is the coup de grace:  Other authorities DO have such policies in place.  Adur, mid-Sussex, lots of places.  Hellooooo.  Why don’t WE?!

PARKING

On the Newtown Road frontage, 100 sq. metres of office  space is proposed, accessed from Newtown Road.  Would any of the basement car parking space be available to occupants of that office space?  This is bound to be a question from both planning committee councillors and planners during the planning process.  Details MUST be in the application so that they can be assessed and put out to public consultation.
It has been pointed out that not every flat would have a parking space and speculation that those buying flats outright might have a space as of  right with their leaseholds….or not.  Some residents at the exhibition ASSUME a two cars per dwelling requirement!  There is already a car club space in Newtown Road it was said.  Would another be appropriate?  Could one of the basement spaces be appropriately dedicated to a second building occupants’ car club?  Might the Planners insist on car-free externally (no resident permits allowable)?  These are details for the planning process.  Overspill parking is the number one resident worry. Always is.

DA6 of the City Plan requires this whole site to be employment led.  Oops! 

This is going to be something to watch during the planning process. 100 square metres on the Newtown Road side does not make this scheme compliant with the emerging, as yet unadopted City Plan which is intended to replace the Local Plan set of policies.
The planning consultant at the exhibition was frowning when this issue got raised and reminded us that the City Plan was unadopted.  In his view Chapter 5 EM Local Plan policies can be invoked.  It will be interesting to see if we get a tussle as between application use of EM policies and BHCC countering that with other EM policy moves to cancel their moves.  If Hyde win, this part of the City Plan becomes redundant even before it can be approved.  The truculence of their mood suggested a middle finger to having to take the City Plan into account at all.  And as this site has been on the market for years more than the usual test period for change of use, it seems likely that the DA6 part of the City Plan will have to be set aside and rewritten somewhat.
The block of flats with the offices area in pink, fronting Newtown Road

The block of flats with the offices area in pink, fronting Newtown Road

Here is the floorplan for the block which shows just how little employment space there will be.  Indeed it isn’t even new employment space.  It is intended to replace the area at the northern end of the Goldstone Lane part of the site which is not derelict, in which six people are currently working.  Is it enough?  Smiles morphed to surly grumpiness at the exhibition when it was queried….alas. 
Below is the non-industrial, domestic area just west of the Newtown Road industrial/semi-industrial, employment focussed area and St. Agnes Church which the architect has chosen to reference for materials. St. Agnes would also absorb most of the light loss and overshadowing from the bulk of the block of flats rather than housing further up the lane.
St. Agnes Church (gym) viewed from south of the railway, with Fonthill Rd housing to the right of photo.  The development site is out of sight, left of frame

St. Agnes Church (gym) viewed from south of the railway, with Fonthill Rd housing to the right of photo. The development site is out of sight, left of frame

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A line of roof flats proposed for the old Dubarry Perfume Factory

The Dubarry Perfumery Co Factory, Hove, 1931

The Dubarry Perfume Co. factory in 1931                                  http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw037248

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The entire length of the original Dubarry Perfume Co. factory facade with Hove Station pedestrian bridge to the right

BH2014/01981

This application seeks to put 9 flats, in a line, down the centre of the roof of the old Dubarry perfume factory – now the Hove Business Centre, with a Fonthill Road address in the planning register.  This photo from 1931 does not show it, but there is already roof development at the far eastern end by Hove Park Villas.  This application would tidy up the snaggle-toothed roofline if approved, but bring problems too. 

Fonthill Road/Newtown Road 

A short terrace of housing abutts the  western end of the old Dubarry factory – now Hove Business Centre in Fonthill Road.  These are in the foreground of the photo above.  These dwellings would not see a set back flat above them.  It would be quite close to the edge and increase an already overbearing cliff-face appearance at the end of their very tiny gardens and reduce sunlight further. Sunlight to gardens is blocked from the west and east and relies on a brief passage of the sun from the south for any sunlight.
Newtown Road housing already loses a lot of sunlight from the south, especially in winter due to the presence of the Dubarry factory.  Is it reasonable to ask residents to increase the building height any further?

Dubarry north-side walkway

The new roof-flats would be accessed from the ground up a lift/stairs and a communal walkway is proposed to the north side facing the line of Newtown Road housing you can see in this aerial photo.  The Walkway is a problem.  Like those council estates that had them in the 1960′s, there is the assumption it is OK to have people walking close to and past your windows to get to their flats.  It is a privacy issue. Worse, in order to deal with the Newtown Road overlooking, overshadowing of housing there, the flats are set back from the edge and the walkway wall is made of glass panels with gaps in them.
Obscured banding on sheets of toughened glass with gaps between them do not ‘feel’ safe or one bit nice for Newtown Road residents to look out onto at such close range.  As you can see from the aerial photo, many of the Newtown Road houses have dormer windows in roof spaces where extra living space was created. This gives an eye-level view both ways to/from proposed Dubarry roof flats.

Dubarry southside terrace

Between the set-back flats and the trackside roof edge, developers propose to provide private patio/terracing.  But with dividers up between the flats.  Minimal privacy.  The drawings show this behind the flouncy decorative rooftop area which gives the lie to how hidden these terraces would be along the length of the building.  No drawings show edge treatment or safety height barriers either side of this decorative roof detail.  The building and any new roof treatment is close to and visible from Hove Station platforms and the walkway over the tracks. 

Dilemmas

Brighton and Hove City Council are under immense pressure to find housing opportunities in every nook and cranny of the city.  This is both a nook and a cranny.  But it is also town cramming to put nine flats along the rooftop of this building which can only be managed with roof edge areas being used for access and amenity in a way that compromises amenity for any new residents – violating QD27 of the Local Plan.  Looking at a planning application requires looking not just at impact on the area but also impact on potential residents. 
One design change which has been suggested  involves  enclosing the proposed open walkway (making of it a hallway with no windows), making the flats single aspect from the south, but with added rooflights.  It remains to be seen how the planning dept will deal with this suggestion which went into a response from the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum.  It makes more sense, gets rid of overlooking, but loses the set-back value that mitigates overshadowing fears.  It could still present an overbearing appearance. 
The target date for a decision is 20th August 2014.  Consultation responses can go in and be supplemented up to the Friday noon of the week before the application is scheduled to be determined at the Planning Committee.  It is not currently scheduled and whilst the formal period of consultation has passed deadline, this is still a live application under consideration.  Do have a look at documentation online via the Planning Register at http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk and see what you think. 
The Dubarry Building in a wider context.
Clarendon and Goldstone Villas 008 (2)

The Cliftonville Inn to the right; Conway Street Brighton & Hove Bus garage foregound; The Dubarry Bldg over the tracks

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The Dubarry Perfumery Co. building, viewed from a tower block south, and to the west of it.

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Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, will not seek re-election in 2015

Not long into his term as MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley suddenly faced a battle with oesophagal cancer.  It was not public knowledge; he kept it to himself; he soldiered on through what must have been a very stressful and demanding time as he also had to serve as Conservative MP for Hove (his choice).  Those who have experienced life-limiting health threats themselves can only marvel at his bravery and determination to boss it out and work to be healthy again.  But now he has taken the decision not to seek re-election at the 2015 General Election.  At the end of his letter to the Prime Minister he makes, perhaps his first ever, public reference to that illness, and to recovery “two years ago” .
We at saveHOVE have one huge reason to be grateful to our MP. 
Within just a few weeks of winning office, asked to sign our petition requesting Brighton & Hove City Council buy Connaught School, in Connaught Road, Hove from City College, he played a blinder.  
For some time it had been known that City College would sell Connaught as it had plans for a huge redevelopment at Pelham Street.  In anticipation of City College disposing of this 1890′s purpose built infant school turned adult education centre, Ninka Willcock, on behalf of the Brighton Society, worked for and gained a Grade 2 Listing for the building to  safeguard it from demolition. We heard Tesco wanted it, that flats would be built there.  Allsorts.
It was, however, known that, inexplicably, this building had not been allowed onto a shortlist of sites for a new primary school (but the scrub nursery area of Hove Park was!).  BHCC struggled to find a way to increase primary school places, in part because Govt diktat stated that no new schools could be set up by local authorities, that all new schools have to be Academies/Free Schools. And this part of Hove had NOTHING.  We had to act.
Just before the General Election, when a notice of closure, ahead of disposal, was posted outside the school, saveHOVE moved and began a petition to try to get it for primary school use again, and at the photo-call to advertise our new campaign, Action4Kids clmbed on board, and we thenceforth worked together to get it.  Then came the election of Mike Weatherley.
Fortunately for us, the new MP  had Robert Nemeth’s knowledge and interest in historic buildings on staff for advice. And he knew full well what his constituents wanted.  But trickily, his fellow Conservatives formed the Brighton & Hove City Council Administration.  So he called a meeting of Constituents, Councillors and Council officers to discuss it.  Red-faced Cllr Brian Oxley sat muttering into his lap, shaking his head negatively.  Cllr Jan Young (ward cllr) was incensed, enraged by obvious support in the room for the saveHOVE campaign.  Other serving cllrs attending seemed shellshocked and uneasy.  Labour’s Pat Hawkes, who had held Cllr Vanessa Brown’s brief in the previous Administration told residents she regretted that Connaught had been Listed.  She was totally opposed to Connaught being bought, refurbished and brought back into use as an infant school.  Why?  Whatever; by the end of the meeting, the new MP was publicly announcing he would be signing the petition.  And that was that.  The Administration was not going to go against their brand new MP.  We got the school as a satellite building for West Hove Infants and a full refurbishment of it too.  Without what he did, we would not have got that school.  Fact.  Petition or no petition.
Today, 3rd July, 2014, at 12:38, this email arrived from MP Mike Weatherley, sent to those on his newsletter emailing list.   It said the following:
“I write today as I wish to let all those who receive my regular news updates know that I will not be standing for re-election at the General Electionin 2015.
As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make.  Below is my letter to the Prime Minister which he has received today.  I wanted to let my constituents know this news before it is circulated to the press later today. 
I look forward to continuing to represent the wonderful residents of Hove and Portslade until May next year.”
Mike Weatherley’s  letter to the Prime Minister said the following:
It is after profound consideration that I write to inform you that I will not be standing for re-election at the General Election in 2015.
I have nothing but huge admiration for the work of the Government over the past four years, including what has been done to get our economy back on track. In Hove and Portslade, this has translated to a drop in unemployment of a staggering 37.5%. I am strongly in favour too of our efforts to reform our membership of the EU but even more so of our pledge of a referendum in 2017 as I have mentioned to you directly on a number of occasions.
In terms of my own work, I have proudly served on the Administration and Justice Select Committees. I have campaigned relentlessly, with much success, to bring common sense to our laws on residential squatting. I have fought hard on a number of animal rights issues and firmly believe that the hunting ban should remain in place. I have also highlighted the dangers of nuclear power and, indeed, the benefits of solar and other renewables.
Over the past year, I have taken immense pride in serving as your Intellectual Property Adviser. I am sure that you will agree that we have made huge steps towards really getting politicians and industry talking – which is key to making the most of our country’s wealth of creative talent. It would be a privilege to continue offering my assistance in this regard.
It goes without saying that my years representing the wonderful people of Hove and Portslade have been one of the most fulfilling periods of my life which I will look back on with very fond memories. I have made so many friends over the years including so many of my loyal supporters both in and out of Brighton & Hove Conservatives. I cannot thank them enough.
Ultimately, beating cancer two years ago has led me to review what I want for the future. It has been the toughest decision of my life but I do feel that now is the time to move on.
Yours sincerely
MIKE WEATHERLEY MP
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A Whistleblower, the EFA, and the the Spanish Bilingual Primary School

The EFA’s Internal Audit Investigation Team has looked at 10 allegations of financial impropriety, including allegations of fraud on the part of the Bilingual Primary School.  Last week the school, currently based at Falmer, was given planning consent (June 4th, 2014) to put a three-form entry new school into the Hove Park Gardeners’ Depot, and on Thursday, 12th June 2014 Policy & Resources are expected to award a 125 year lease to this school for that Hove Park land with the price tag kept secret from the public.  The committee report  gives very little indication of how the leasehold would work or how much the school could profit from having it to sell on.
The Bilingual Primary School Brighton and Hove investigation report” was published April 2014 and an online link to it was provided to each member of the Policy & Resources Committee (Jason Kitcat, Ollie Sykes, Bill Randall, Sue Shanks, Geoffrey Theobald, Ann Norman, Garry Peltzer Dunn, Warren Morgan, Leslie Hamilton, Jeane Lepper) over the weekend and to Hove Park Ward Cllrs Jayne Bennett and Vanessa Brown.  Deferment of the Thursday land leasing decision at Policy & Resources was requested pending the outcome of the EFA’s followup report in July (seeking financial compliance).  Only Cllr Bennett has acknowledged receipt.  Deafening silence from the rest. No deferment.
Surely within its conduct of due diligence, BHCC should not be entering into this 125 year land lease agreement while this outstanding investigation is ongoing/unresolved and the school has no formal staff position dealing with its finances or anyone to ensure Minutes are adequately available for Governors’ meetings. The bilingual school’s website as it stood a few days ago only advertises for a teacher, but nothing else.
The report says that “The academy was subject to an EFA visit to validate their Financial Management and Governance self-assessment in June 2013″.  Problems were identified and an action plan created.  On 23 January, 2014 the school informed the Education Funding Agency ((EFA) that they expected financial allegations to be made about them.  Later that day the whistleblower, whose identify is not published, did indeed then contact them with the 10 allegations listed in the report.  It is clear the EFA is unwilling to be especially critical but the report does uphold the gist of the whistleblower’s allegations and note a few issues of their own.  Such as non-compliance with the Action Plan agreed last year.  The EFA seems not to follow things up….to rely on whistleblowers if there is any issue.  Recently it has become clear the EFA may have bitten off more than it can chew where oversight and regulation of its free schools is concerned. 
These (essentially) DIY schools can put what they like into a curriculum, are not required to provide lunch facilities (or play space, we learned at Planning).  They are given accreditation without having premises or permanent finance staff.  Allowed to wing it a bit.  The report says “The Academies Financial Handbook is only being met in part” and it highlights “the lack of an experienced clerk to minute and report” on Governors’ meetings. So not allowed to wing it entirely….as long as there is a whistleblower to flag up non-compliance.  
You can read the EFA report for more details by clicking on the title link below:
The Bilingual Primary School Brighton and Hove investigation report April 2014

  THERE HAS NOT BEEN ANY OFSTED INSPECTION

Googling for more information, an interesting Local Schools Network blog entry by Janet Downs turned up, with informative comments from Per Nordstrom.  It is dated 29.4.14 with comments over some days which indicates this report has been in the public realm since then; and it is astonishing that there has been no local reporting of it in the media. Even more astonishing is the fact BHCC say this school performs well, yet, in this blog we learn there has not yet been an Ofsted Inspection to formally ajudge this!  On what basis does BHCC flag it up  as fab?
You can read the blog and comments by clicking on the link below:
Janet Downs’ Local Schools Network article and comment trail

THE WEIRD STUFF AT PLANNING

It was baffling to see planning consent given, for Cllr Ian Davey to airily decree that parents & staff could use the Goldstone Retail Park for parking and for other cllrs to commit Coral’s Greyhound Stadium and Waitrose to offering their parking facilities to parents and staff too.  There was nothing in writing offering parking space, please note! 
Cllr Dee Simson made a serious attempt at a probing question of substance.  She asked the woman speaker for the school how many kids would be using the on-site play space at any one time.  She never did get a straight answer.  She was left to make assumptions.  Cllr Theobald asked if they couldn’t do a two form entry instead of a three-form.  One of the three speakers for the application said funding would not be given for two-form entry.  But saveHOVE has a copy of an email provided to an associate indicating that this response may not have been entirely right.
It was astonishing to listen to cllrs dismiss any likelihood that 630 children using Hove Park for play space during all weathers could possibly create any kind of park use or maintenance problem.  Green Cllr Mike Jones was especially dismissive on this.  And yet only a few months ago, BHCC cllrs voted to start charging fitness clubs, etc. for their use of seafront lawns and park spaces because of costs incurred from damage to grass which they have to re-turf (at taxpayer expense).  For many years the Brunswick Town resident groups have wailed mightily about sports use of Hove Lawns and the damage inflicted there.  But the rank and file councillor is oblivious.  Not plugged into this issue.  Not very Green.  10 mature trees will also be felled to widen the entrance to the school.  Sounding like her partner Tom Druitt needed to be appeased, (he who famously climbed the Seven-Dials tree to save it after she took a committee decision to fell it), Green Cllr Alex Phillips trotted out a few words of “concern” about the loss of trees but no reat objection and she voted with the others (unanimous) to build this school on what is currently and legally Hove Park land.
You can read the report (and Conditions of consent) by clicking on the link below:
The Planning Committee Report of 4.6.14 for BH2014/00922

To read the report to Policy & Resources Committee please click the link below:
Policy and Resources Agenda Item 15
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Spanish bilingual Primary School – 2nd application for Hove Park Depot

BH2014/00922

There have been very many visits to this website seeking information about the bilingual school’s latest application.  Sadly, only material from the first application has been available and I hope people realised they were looking at old articles.
The 2nd application is minded to grant and goes to Planning Committee 2pm, Hove Town Hall, 4th of June 2014. 
Instead of putting 630 kids and 50 teachers into 3 storeys, the new plan is to put them into 2 storeys.  There is virtually no on-site play space so of course they quietly deny whilst salivating over the prospect of commandeering Hove Park itself – which will put immense noise and activity into the serene, badger and other wildlife friendly northernmost green and peaceful oasis part of it.  The southern part of Hove Park is where all the playspace, cafe, tennis, etc. is concentrated.  This school would urbanise a beautiful green space (and they will fell 10 trees needed for nesting sites to boot).
This proposed school would mean selling a section of Hove Park which has been a gardeners depot for some years and before that a plant nursery for Parks & Gardens which served both Brighton and Hove before unification.  Planning consent alone will not allow a school to be built there, however 
Because an indoor bowls facility was to be off-housed into the depot during the Karis King Alfred application of old (now defunct), BHCC organised removal of the park-use-only Covenant on that section of Hove Park.  The bowls facility was never consented or built.  And Hove Park ward cllr Vanessa Brown, as Cabinet Member for schools under the previous Conservative Administration rather foolishly agreed to her dept. putting the site on a list as somewhere to build a school.  It was never designated for that use in any planning policy document however.  And whilst saveHOVE asked if a planning brief could be prepared which would allow a proper consultation of the entire area of stakeholders to establish how best to use that site, the Green Administration only said ‘yes’ in answer to the public question, but did nothing to produce one. 
This Free School application is a disaster for that corner of Hove, its road use, resident and park user amenity – for the sanctity and value of beautiful Hove Park.  At a time of increasing population in the area, it is not right to reduce public green space and amenity.  Indeed the need is to increase it. Having gardeners based in Hove Park has been good for maintenance of Hove parks and banishing them all to Stanmer Park is going to mean higher running costs for teams looking after Hove and Portslade (or not bothering to do it at all as budgets get further cut).  The park serves residents from a wide section of Hove and is much needed and valued.
The list of consultees for this application is absurd (and laughable in a black sort of way).  Addresses not in existence for 40 years have been lettered by the planning dept.  Plus to the Co-op and businesses there which were long gone, and closed forever mid-March.  It re-opened 3 days after the April 7th letters went out having been taken over by Waitrose.  Did the Co-op pass on any of the consultee letters that may have been forwarded to their head office?  Nothing to Coral’s Greyhound Stadium and nothing to Legal & General or other specific tenants of City Park (which has an employment protection Article 4 Direction on it to prevent it being converted to flats without a planning application under Eric Pickles’ little free-for-all measure to help developers).  No letters to any of the Nevill Road, Park View Road, Orchard Road, Avenue, Gardens residents either.  Nobody on the western side of the proposed school was formally consulted – only residents in Woodlands and Goldstone Crescent areas.  But the western area is likely to be preferred by arriving and departing parents for the shelter of buildings and trees in howling winter gales and rain or snow.  Parents won’t want to use Goldstone Crescent (a main road) or to walk across the exposed park area in bad weather or in winter afternoon darkness. So  the habitat friendly park will probably get floodlights put into it.  Heavily urbanising it.  This application seeks to turn a park into a built environment with a huge amount of activity added to it.
Plus!  Waitrose has a coffee shop.  Parents and children will colonise that coming and going.   Many of the supporters’ letters listed in the committee report are from long distances away – from people who will use that school.  It wont be just for local children.  This was made clear in the first application.  Maybe Waitrose would be cool with that.  Customers of course.  But maybe other customers would be put off.  The planning officers’ report to committee at 8.11 actually has the cheek to suggest parents can use Waitrose and Coral’s car parking area without having even had the courtesy of ever  formally notifying Waitrose or Coral of the application! 
The design of this new proposal is loud and cheap looking.  And it will be cheaply built too because Gove is in a spot of bother about his free schools and the money being taken from other areas to pay for them.  It looks rather like something from a nasty inner city council estate from the late 1950′s.  And there is no play space because half the site is steeply sloped and the cost of digging it out and engineering support for the Droveway above it would be colossal.  So they pretend it is a ‘habitat’ feature.  And they will all pile into Hove Park instead for playtime.  That serenely green and peaceful corner of Hove Park will be lost as that.  One wonders how the City Park office workers will feel about 630 kids squealing, playing and chattering  away in Spanish just below their windows as they try to work.  Schools are very noisy places.
I could go on. But I am too demoralised to do so.  I am sickened by this push to urbanise Hove Park by stuffing a huge, (unaccountable to BHCC) Central Government Free School into it, just as jamming that massive block of 71 flats beside the Park’s southern flank, in place of Park House, sickens.  For how much longer will badgers remain around Hove Park.  Or the red list birds we learned about in the Park House application.   Who will pay for the much increased maintenance requirement of that park  when 630 children and their parents and the 50 odd staff begin to use it?  Will they turn lawns to mud playing football on it (as a friend’s boys did in their garden years ago)?  Not Gove’s EFA I can assure you.  Oh no.  And yet BHCC  will have zero authority over anything that school does.  It should not be allowed to conduct any school activity within Hove Park.  They won’t be paying for it.  You, dear resident of Brighton & Hove, would pick up the tab for the consequences of their inevitable and intense park use and maintenance needs whilst parents from all over the surrounding counties bring their kids to this school.
Actually, there is one other small detail.  The report to committee baldly states that the school will harm the setting of the 5-times over Listed Engineerium, but says it’s OK to do that.  And there is no Conservation Area application for this proposal.  And there should be, in spite of the CA app being approved last time seeking demolition of existing buildings on site.  The depot sits within the Engineerium Conservation Area boundary and whatever is built (if anything) in that area, should need specific Conservation Area consent.
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How to make a quick buck out of the West Pier seafront site

If Coun Kitcat is looking for an attraction to lure visitors in that direction, I can suggest something:  every weekend, chuck £50,000 up in the air at the West Pier for people to grab – they’d turn up all right.  You could do this every single week for the decade, and it would still be £10 million cheaper than the proposed loan for the i360, which we’ll probably never get back.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Tony Davenport, letter in The Argus 18.3.14
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