17 December 2015…..Full Council at Brighton Town Hall this evening saw delivery of a saveHOVE petition circulated on the 7th of December at a public meeting convened by the newly created No Sackville Tower campaigners. A Public Question clarified tall building height policy for the Kingsway!
121 people crowded into St. Patrick’s Church Hall in Portland Road signed it, including Westbourne Ward Cllr Denise Cobb. Just before the council meeting, as cllrs assembled, her fellow ward cllr Tom Bewick was asked to sign it too, and did. Regrettably opportunity did not present itself to ask the two Wish Ward cllrs Garry Peltzer Dunn and Robert Nemeth if they too would sign it. The petition seeks a Planning Brief – wording as follows:
“We the undersigned request that Brighton & Hove City Council create a specific Planning Brief for the seafront section of Hove from (but not including) King Alfred to Aldrington Basin along the Kingsway to provide clearer guidance for developers wishing to build along there and to protect the interests of residents local to the area along with the integrity and future of Hove itself”
The petition was presented with this 3-minute speech:
I bring a petition today, signed by 121 people, including Westbourne ward cllr Denise Cobb, at a public meeting held on the 7th of December and cllr Bewick added his signature just now. The meeting was convened by the No to Sackville Tower group which was created as soon as residents learned of a 17- storey Hyde Housing proposal for the Sackville Hotel site.
Many residents were dismayed that night to learn that the Kingsway west of King Alfred had been given “tall building corridor” status about 12 years ago when the Gillespie Tall Building Study came up with a series of nodes and corridors deemed suitable for tall buildings development.
They heard a little about the Medina House saga on the Kings Esplanade. They were informed that after umpteen planning applications, planning appeals and wasted officer time saveHOVE had initiated a petition, requesting a Planning Brief be created for that site as a way of definitively corralling developer expectations there. Some of us believe the Brief we got in 2013 went a very long way towards persuading Sirus Taghan he really was on a hiding to nothing. Indeed he tested it with one final failed application. And he has now given up and sold the property on.
On its website Cabe says this about Planning Briefs “they can…be used….to communicate to developers the acceptable quality and quantity of development, including the spatial distribution of uses on a particular site”. I call them the rules of engagement.
The Tall Building Study and SPGBH15 which flowed from it were quite loosely drafted in some areas. And on its own it cannot provide guidance for developing along the Kingsway corridor. And it cannot be taken as giving carte blanche to put Very Tall Buildings – defined as over 15 storeys – anywhere they like along that corridor, regardless of impact on side street housing. Indeed, who is to say or control what existing blocks of flats along the Kingsway might attempt by way of increasing their own heights by adding extra storeys.
There is a need to put a Planning Brief on the Kingsway from, but not including King Alfred. all the way along to where the Aldrington Basin Master Plan and other Shoreham Port area Planning Briefs created by Adur and BHCC then bring their controls to what can and cannot be built from there. We already have a slimmed down – some believe compromised – Planning Department with huge staff losses expected across the Council in years to come.
A Planning Brief ahead of a Kingsway free-for-all will save everyone a lot of grief and expense. As well as the Sackville Hotel site, developments coming along imminently include the Texaco site, and further along, a multi-houses site between Braemore and Berriedale which Southern Housing have bought. Time is of the essence and I hope a Planning Brief will be seen as now urgently required.”
The petition will be forwarded to the relevant committee for consideration – Culture and Economic Development, which is the parent committee handling planning policy creation. The next scheduled meeting is January 14, 2016. Further petition signatures can be delivered on that occasion.
The Public Question
The following question was asked and answered on the night:
“At clause 8.12.1, Supplementary Planning Guidance note SPGBH15 provides for “mid-rise” tall buildings along the Kingsway in Hove which is a designated corridor, suitable to take tall buildings. May I have, please, a definition of what is meant by “mid-rise” and how many storeys over what height this definition would allow?
Leader of the Council, Warren Morgan, replied, saying guidance gives it as being 6-8 storeys. It was important for the entire complement of 54 city councillors to hear this, spelt out in public. Half of them are brand new, inexperienced councillors of just 6 months standing with a lot still to learn. A scrambled supplementary question drew attention to how ancient the Tall Building Policy is and asked if it could be reviewed.
Full Council meetings are webcast live and you can view this presentation of the petition and public question session here when the meeting is archived…normally the next day or shortly after.