29.10.16…..A SERIOUSLY polarised picture is emerging as between the positions taken by the Regency Society, The Hove Civic Society, with the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum and the many internal, Brighton & Hove City Council consultee responses. The extent to which developers and architects have infiltrated or influenced amenity societies and groups to try to steer outcomes their way has never been shown more clearly. It is ruthless, in ruthless times, as income and profit are sought by them. That is not what amenity societies should be about. And for the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum to be getting in bed with developers might come as news to most of its membership (who signed up to creation of a Neighbourhood Plan to eventually put beneath and influence the City Plan).
These days public and official consultation responses are being parked online behind application documents which makes it possible for easy viewing of them, instead of having to ask to view the officer Case File to follow an application’s progress. This is, however, deterring people from having their say. Indeed even the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum’s 15 pages of rambling praise and support for this massive overdevelopment FAILS to carry any form of address on it – not so much as an email address. Some people are using name and post code or just name, neighbour consultee letter number (if they got a letter), and/or email address. It is all being accepted by the council. But back to the issue that needs attention!
Here is a clip from theinternal consultee response provided by the BHCC Policy team:
This is a shocking rebuke!!!!! But it is also just one example too of expert condemnation of the application, over and above the felt need to chastise the HSNF. Go to the Planning Register and input address/planning ID number and read what Arboriculture has to say, what Housing has to say. Actually, look at THIS from what Housing has to say: there is no affordable identified, no wheelchair accessible identified. And space standards are homed in on. Some 25% of the 188 flats do not meet nationally described space standards!
There is more, much more. Have a look. Do note, however, that should this application be withdrawn, all the online documentation will also be withdrawn and become inaccessible. But these bits are copied and saved here! To shame them.
David Robson (an architect) has provided the Regency Society response, recommending approval of his friend and fellow Regency Society member, Nick Lomax’s design for this scheme. Nick is of course merely designing to a stupid brief for an overdevelopment from MATSIM. The client dictates. But what is Robson thinking? Why does the Regency Society not worry about all the things that the officer consultees do? About unliveably small spaces? Negative impacts? Is it because the building trades and developers have too much influence there now? And why is Robson able to wear SO many hats simultaneously, that means his vote is counted in different areas to increase his influence? He sits on the Conservation Advisory Group representing RIBA and does the Regency Society response. Two votes for one person?
And what about the Hove Civic Society support for the scheme? Its Chair is also on the HSNF Committee – no conflict of interest there? Do the members of any of the societies know what is being said and done in their names? Or do they just belong to them for the social life provided? Sadly for city planning, these two registered charities (Regency Society and Hove Civic) still trade on past glory and receive consideration by the Planning Department. Hard to believe BOTH societies, established to protect threatened townscape, retain it as their remit given the extent to which they encourage developer and architect memberships and support their work at planning!
Is undersized provision of parking spaces for humans Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum policy? NO, NO, NO!! It is outrageous for HSNF to put its name to an application with 25% undersized flats!
How is it possible that the Conservation Advisory Group puts in a response saying it is divided in opinion on this application? This also happened years ago when a Regency Society Committee member put in a letter of support on their official behalf for glass penthouses on top of the Old Market. She was rumbled (by me) and the Society WITHDREW that support. But a right old rumpus ensued, ending with an appalling paragraph in the report to committee saying the Regency Society were divided and would not be giving an opinion. On the Listed Regency Old Market. Appalling. The reason it is happening is because those in unquestioning favour of driving development or just promoting their own interests are proactively seeking and gaining a voice in amenity groups and societies. Of the big three traditional groups, the Brighton Society alone provides a strong impartial voice, as do the smaller societies and local residents groups (and saveHOVE!).
This application and the consultation responses viewable online right now show just how severe the compromising of such groups has become. The council is predisposed to wanting and seeking applications that provide new housing in the huge numbers that Planning Inspectors demand are provided in Brighton & Hove. It is therefore very important to note the depth of antipathy to this application from the internal council consultees and to lament and question the mischief that is destroying the credibility of both the Hove Civic Society and the Regency Society along with the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum who all need to cool their excitement for development and become impartial. Which they are not.
As for MATSIM! In 2012 they were outrageously overambitious and greedy and got slapped down so they never even put in their application. No lessons learned because they are back with this one. A VERY greedy application which according to the Housing consultee response is in the hands of the District Valuer now for assessment of their claim that they cannot afford to include affordable housing (of the 188 flats, just 10 rentals and 9 shared ownerships are now grudgingly suggested, but not identifying which of the undersized or appropriately sized they would give). Be clear. MATSIM own the shed part of the city block which could not have cost them very much, frankly. So…..
NB: The first post on this (up-to 17 storeys blocks of 188 flats, offices and retail) planning application (with guideline site photos and some updating to it a couple of times) can be accessed by clicking on this link