4 June 2014…..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.