20 October 2012…..This is going to be the biggest, most potentially transformative planning application to hit Hove since that same area was demolished in the 1960’s. By the 3rd week of November we must expect to have a newly registered planning application out to public consultation for the MATSIM/LCE proposals.
The exhibition held over the last week will have generated comments and feedback which is to go into the planning application under ‘public consultation’ along with comments online at the Hove Square website. By scrolling to the bottom of architects drawings to a yellow bit with white writing, access to the ‘full presentation’ of 26MB will provide all the same material which lined the office walls during the week-long exhibiton.
The developers have indicated they will submit their application in 2-3 weeks. Then a period of a week or two is needed in order for it to become a registered application. A basic level of content must be checked as present and correct before any judgment of worth or otherwise begins. Do not expect any changes to what was shown in the exhibition. They have already written most of what they intend to put into the application.
What you can do to be ready for when it all kicks off ?
You need to know what you can do that counts as a planning consideration. Where on earth do you begin? You begin by familiarising yourself with BHCC planning policy documents.
By the end of 2012 the City Plan is expected to be agreed and some of you put in consultation responses towards it (which may or may not have been influential). The City Plan will replace the Local Plan but many of the Local Plan policies are to be retained for it. Read it online or go to the Library or City Direct at Hove Town Hall and read hard copy there. Using what you have seen of the proposals already, make some notes you wish to remember. The Local Plan and City Plan are the umbrella policy documents governing development in Brighton and Hove.
Some areas have Planning Briefs attached to them too. These put more detail on what BHCC expects a developer to provide or refrain from providing, what uses are acceptable. At a public meeting in July this writer asked for one for this development and it is to be provided – but not until the City Plan is first approved. It will have to comply with the City Plan but it might also – for instance – introduce a tall building height limit, allow or disallow a supermarket, that kind of thing. A saveHOVE petition has been raised to put a few ideas forward in this regard, including height restriction and perhaps making the development car-free because of access issues.
Beneath them sit the Supplementary Planning Guidance and Documents – such as the Tall Building Strategy: SPGBH 15. You MUST become familiar with this . It is nearly 10 years since it was agreed that the Hove Station area would become a Tall Building Node within the nodes and corridors scheme. Can this be changed? Only within a Planning Brief which could restrict to tall rather than very tall (over 15 storeys) or specify which bit of the site could take them.
The council probably should revisit its Tall Building Strategy for the City but it would take months to do and require an investment of money it likely cannot find. It must be realised and taken on board that the planners cannot refuse an application which complies with planning law and council planning policy. Even if councillors were persuaded to turn it down, regardless of compliance, if it is compliant, the developers would Appeal and a government Planning Inspector give consent over their heads. The cost of an Appeal is borne by the taxpayer and it is hugely expensive.
So the planning application response period is your shot at getting a development for the area that makes a positive contribution. You will have to take the decision that you will set aside time to address it when it comes. You cannot just wail and get upset. Dislike is not a planning consideration.
There is one other thing you could do. But it really does require committed investment of time and effort. Under the Localism Act residents are empowered to form a group and raise a Neighbourhood Plan which must be taken into consideration in determining an application. Indeed it provides the power to GRANT a planning application to some extent. BHCC have offered help but 21 people must be part of this group. If you are living in the affected area and wish to declare an interest in joining such a group, please contact cllr Rob Jarrett.
This application will take at least a year to achieve planning consent and you will have to be involved in all the twists and turns for at least that long. King Alfred took TWO years, many revisions of design and two planning applications before it achieved its spurious consent (mercifully never used due to the recession and loss of finance).