East Brighton Councillors recently organised a meeting between residents, Berkeley Group (the developers) and the Council’s Head of Planning because of the concerns raised by residents about the proposed development of the old gasworks site at the junction of Marina Way and Roedean Road road.
Although the site is in Rottingdean Coastal Ward, residents who live in East Brighton will be affected because of the significant size and scale of the proposed development.
In advance of the meeting, Labour Councillors Nancy Platts and Gill Williams wrote to the Berkeley Group to set out residents’ concerns. The meeting provided an opportunity for residents to ask more questions and really drill down into the detail of the written answers provided by the developers.
Residents were clear that they support the development of brownfield sites in general in the city, and this one in particular. They are ready to engage in consultation about how to meet the Local Plan needs on this site if invited to do so in a meaningful way.
Key issues for residents include housing that is genuinely affordable to local people on local wages; a design that relates meaningfully to the local area; development that meets the City’s own guidelines on density and height and safe decontamination of the area.
As part of this process, the developers have said they will improve the consultation process and offer more opportunities for engagement about their plans.
Whilst designs are at an early stage, both residents and Councillors are clear that our City needs affordable housing and we expressed our opposition to properties being marketed abroad for investment purposes. We need homes for people to become part of the local community. We don’t want to leave the shops and services included within the build without day-to-day trade, as has occurred at the Marina development. We are worried that occupants arriving for short breaks will drive directly in and out of the development, making little or no contribution to the community and properties will remain largely empty for much of the year. We believe this will result in a ‘soulless’ environment and the area will gradually become rundown.
Residents also raised concerns about the height of the buildings. Whilst we are pleased that the developers have since made a concession by agreeing to reduce the height of blocks from 15 to 13 floors, we think the density, overshadowing of surrounding homes and potential for a ‘wind-tunnel’ effect is still problematic for those living nearby.
The Berkeley Group tried to offer reassurance about their experience of decontamination, but residents remain worried about that aspect of the build. At the meeting the developers undertook to come back with more technical detail.
You can find out more about the development on the Brighton Gasworks website. If you have questions, you can contact the developers directly or you can email your local Councillors who can ask questions or raise concerns on your behalf.
There is a Brighton Gasworks Facebook Group you can join if you are local to the site and want to be in touch with others who are concerned about this development.