Bus Station redevelopment at Hove Station: new stirrings of activity

26 September 2012…..Tonight, at the Vallance Centre in Sackville Road, a second, updating, meeting was convened by Goldsmid Cllrs to update residents from Fonthill Road, Newtown Road and the little terrace in Conway Street behind the Salvation Army Citadel about the City Plan’s progress and this proposed redevelopment.  Some 25 residents attended.
Both the Chair of Planning and City Planner, Martin Randall, were again present and the meeting focussed on the Council’s side of the story:  preparation of The City Plan, around which all other BHCC moves will have to revolve.  Residents wanted to discuss development details and their fears but the developer was not there to answer and Cllr Rob Jarrett, Chairing, tried to keep attention on The City Plan, its preparation.  The receipt of the planning application and agreement of  The City Plan will dominate the end of 2012.
Some 35 City Plan consultation responses were received by the Council concerning the wider area that contains the redevelopment site on the western side of Hove station – second only in number to those received concerning Toad’s Hole Valley, we heard!  Many no doubt came from residents who had attended that first, briefing, meeting on 17th July.  But saveHOVE is aware of developers and commercial property owners also responding.  The area along the northern trackside area is at issue.  Designated for a future waste transfer station, it is clear that no proper regeneration of that area can take place unless that allocation is removed.
At the first meeting on 17th July, saveHOVE requested that a Planning Brief be prepared for the Conway Street redevelopment.  It was confirmed this evening that a Planning Brief is to be prepared “co-terminus with agreement of The City Plan”.
Exhibition material will be available over a ten day period in mid-October, viewable at nearby MATSIM offices.  Exact details will be posted here when they are available.   We were reminded that exhibition material, with architects’ models.  had in the past been placed in Hove Town Hall and elsewhere for other major developments which could be provided for this one.
The City Plan is scheduled to go to Full Council for agreement December/January with the Planning Brief (with public consultation) to follow.  By then the developers’  planning application may also be out to public consultation too.
People were reminded that while a planning application can go in and be determined, nothing can be built until the bus company vacates Conway Street.  Their removal is dependent on the Argus leaving the Hollingdean premises so that MATSIM can demolish the building and build a new bus station there.  The Argus was said to be looking for premises to move to but has been awfully quiet about its proposed move and no details of what they are looking for are in the public realm.

The following section regarding The Argus has attracted the attention of Argus Editor Michael Beard who informs saveHOVE that The Argus is not for sale and that this assertion should refer to the building.  Since it is widely understood that Roger French’s bus company is to take over the Argus building at Hollingbury, demolish it and build a new bus station there, I asked Mr. Beard to clarify whether the building is indeed for sale.  He clarifies that The Argus is not for sale and makes no comment on the premises being for sale or not.  If someone other than the bus company buys the premises then the whole MATSIM project becomes unviable while an alternative to the Hollingbury Argus offices is sought.   The Editor of the Argus is saying no more.

The Chair of Planning, Christopher Hawtree, volunteered to the meeting that The Argus is for sale, but nobody has expressed interest in buying it.  This is an ominous development.  Without an independent local newspaper there would not be the kind of eye on democracy to professionally report how politicians succeed or fail to give the city adequate governance.  It is vitally needed just to keep their noses clean and the voters informed.  Losing The Argus would be a serious blow.  Believe it.
If nobody buys it as a going concern with the aim of continuing to publish it, it seems reasonable to fear closure, with them just leaving Hollingdean without going to new (smaller) premises. 
Since raising the cover price and giving it a facelift, there IS more content and specialist supplements (Sport, Education/Youth in Action, Business, etc.) listing of some planning applications and movies is back too.  They failed dismally to properly promote and flag up the changes.  The layout and artworking of the paper looks more like a National Paper on some days too and less Parish Pump.  Over the week, it has definitely sharpened up.  Use it or lose it…..
Details were provided about resident-produced Neighbourhood Plans which the Localism Act introduced as a way of putting power into the hands of citizens.  It could influence a Planning Brief but it must fit into City Plan constraints.
A minimum of 21 people are needed to form a group to produce a Neighbourhood Plan and that group must decide on the extent of the area it will address and be legitimised by the Council which will provide some (limited) backup and officer assistance.  Names were taken of those interested in doing the work.  If you live in the area concerned and wish to join this group do get in touch!  Apparently Rottingdean have nearly finished preparing one and the group may be able to learn from them.
Formation of this group is now the residents’ task in hand.  Happily, one of the attending Fonthill Road residents just happens to be a retired Professor from the University of the Southbank in London who used to train future planning officers.  He is now an advisor on neighbourhood planning and low carbon communities and he will be part of this group, hopefully.  He advises people access www.communityplanning.net for advice and guidance.
Stay tuned for more!
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About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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