20.07.18…..In common with Christian churches, the Jewish faith is suffering falling numbers who attend and keep synagogues viable. The Planning Statement at 4.1 tells us that the proposed redevelopment of the New Church Road synagogue site “is aimed at retaining and attracting young families to the area to secure the future of the Jewish community in the City”. An over the odds number of 4 bed units are planned. Read the Application form for good detail – 103 bedrooms in 45 dwellings. The terrace at the back will contain all the 4 bed housing, with 1x 3 bed. This is where the family housing will mostly be, backing onto Carmel House.
For this post, I will consider the silent ‘partner’ in all this – adjacent St. Christopher’s school, which will be conjoined at the boundary with access – and take a brief look at the Planning Statement. You should look at the Design & Access links on the council website next and then pick at details. Click on app ID number above to access all documentation.
St. Christopher parents & local resident comments will be most important to planners – how will you be impacted?
The proposal – it’s a LOT!
The scheme has been reduced somewhat since it was first shown to a handful of residents from New Church Road, Pembroke Gardens and Westbourne Gardens at short notice before Christmas, 2017. The applicants have had pre-application advice and feedback from planning committee cllrs before submitting this final proposal and there have been further public consultation exhibits; but only on June 25th were the parents of existing adjacent St. Christopher’s pupils shown anything AT ALL and then with only a few days’ notice to attend!!! What do parents of new children starting in September know? Anything?
St. Christopher’s is offered use of two spare capacity class rooms in the new development which the Head and Board of Governors are welcoming. Only about a dozen parents made that meeting and they were alarmed. They pay about £10,000 a year for their small children to attend this prep school. They have a financial interest in what the school is doing by merging its interests with those of the synagogue developers next door and concerns about how the very long period of demolition and building will impact on their children’s education if this goes ahead. Once built a HUGE level of activity will be introduced to the site. Noise impact.
Over and above that, there is a party wall involved and St. Christopher’s would have a doorway entry into the synagogue site’s classrooms – effectively the development physically joins the two sites together. Given that this is an orthodox Jewish synagogue, there are grave concerns about security. One parent wonders if the school would become a target for anyone wanting to access the synagogue site through St. Christopher’s to make trouble for what is planned to be a substantial Jewish commune/compound of 45 homes, synagogue, meeting place, etc.
The aims are laudable and deliverable considering who the backer is. But have they bitten off more than the area can chew? The freeholders for St. Christopher’s are believed to have engaged a Planning Consultant to deal with their application response. Have contracts been drawn up with agreed detail for how these two sites will operate in tandem so that schmoozy promises about sharing classrooms is a commitment? Has the school Head really looked into likely impact and whether it could affect numbers sending their children to this prep school in future? The character of the existing school WILL change! It is a consideration.
The ambitious plans for the site are rather wonderful in some ways, but possibly for a bigger site to be at its best – a 300 capacity social hall, situated adjacent the new synagogue, was touted at the parents’ meeting as a place where concerts could be held which is a nice prospect…but in the middle of a strictly residential area? Where do people park? Presumably weddings would take place in it too….where do guests park? A lot of commercial activity is built into plans – and not just nursery school and housing capacity. There is no other commercial activity in this strictly residential corner of Hove. How noisy would they be arriving or leaving after an event in the social hall? People chatter….laugh….and shout. And neighbours would be disturbed to the same level as in a city centre!
BIG COUNCIL FAIL HERE CONCERNING NOTIFICATION
Brighton & Hove City Council are making it very hard for the public to know about planning applications. NO NEIGHBOUR CONSULTATION LETTERS? AGAIN? The Planning Register does not even provide details of where site notices are posted for this! Such things tend to get pulled down or go where people may not ever pass to see them. They claim ward cllrs get notified and it is their responsibility to tell you. That is news to most cllrs by the way! They claim advertised applications are published in the Brighton & Hove Independent. so you can see them there. Problem is, they only put their print edition (with adverts) into Hove Library and in front of one Blatchington Road newsagent and nowhere else in Hove!!!! It is essentially a Brighton distributed paper. It is a major blow to resident rights that letters notifying and inviting comment are not being produced. To save money? No explanation!
So any of you reading this must spread the word! Here is who ARE consulted – 25 official consultees who are not residents, including counter terrorism police (never seen that before!):
At 5.38 of the Planning Statement it gives that there are just 57 car park spaces and 96 cycle spaces proposed for this redevelopment. If 300 people come to a social hall event, are they expected to arrive on foot? Or will they hunt locally for parking spaces? In theory, given this is an orthodox synagogue, people attending synagogue on the Sabbath will be walking and not driving (prohibited). But otherwise, for events? To visit? For the facilities? For deliveries?
At 5.43 the existence of a LOT of TPO protected trees is addressed. Only “most” are to be saved. This is a serious issue to look at and object to if it involves loss of any elms as St. Christopher was responsible for the area losing about 14 mature elms to disease after they were careless in storing wood that bred the killer beetles. All the trees are needed.
The 40% requirement is not going to be met. There is no firm commitment. They say this is a philanthropic project that will not generate any profit and is instead “under water”. But they want to provide SOME affordable housing and at 7.5 say they are in talks with the Jewish Housing Association to see what can be organised. Vague! They will have to provide the arithmetic and Planners may well require that the District Valuer decides – at the applicants’ expense. This is what policy is quoted as saying, at 5.20: “Policy CP20 seeks a provision of 40% on site affordable housing provision on sites of 15 or more (net) dwellings. The policy notes that this affordable housing target is subject to the costs relating to the development, in particular the financial viability of developing the site”.
I cannot get into greater analysis here, but would warn you that all comments must be in by mid August to be considered. Note how many bedrooms altogether this development will provide to judge the compound’s likely population (a lot more than 45!) and consider how many more people would be on site in the offices, work spaces, bookable hall, shul, cafe, etc. to judge how much activity is likely to be generated and for whose benefit. This WILL be a more or less exclusive religious compound.