Joint objection from Councillors Nancy Platts and Gilliane Williams, Ward Councillors for East Brighton – 18th January 2022
BH2021/04167 | Brighton Gasworks Land Bounded By Roedean Road (B2066), Marina Way And Boundary Road Brighton BN2 5TJ
Dear Planning Team and Planning Committee
We wish to object to the Brighton Gasworks development proposal. Whilst technically within the boundary of the current Rottingdean Coastal Ward, development of the site will have a significant impact on many residents living in the current East Brighton Ward.
We have received many communications from residents concerned about the development proposals and we will outline these below.
We also wish it to be noted that several meetings have been held with the developers.
Residents have attended several meetings in good faith to express their concerns in an attempt for their voices to be heard and concerns addressed ahead of any planning application being submitted.
Whilst some concerns were addressed, we feel these were to a very limited extent and insufficient in relation to the number and type of issues residents had outlined. For example, the original proposal included tower blocks of 15 storeys, now reduced to 12 storeys but this is still a significant structure on that site.
In addition, we wish the Planning Team and Committee to note that we are disappointed that the developers chose to time their application in such a way as to force local people to review over 200 documents over the Christmas holiday period. We feel this was unfair and is detrimental to ensuring an effective consultation process with those who will be most affected by this development.
We want to thank all the residents who have nevertheless done their best to participate and who have copied us into their submissions so that we can properly represent their views.
1. Objection One – Hazardous materials and contaminated land
Our understanding is that previous applications on this site have been refused due to the problems of contamination. Whilst technology may have advanced, we are concerned by reports from other gasworks sites such as Southall about the potential impact on the people who will live there and in the surrounding area Londoners claim toxic air from gasworks damaging their health | Air pollution | The Guardian. This is also undermining the confidence of local people in the ability of the developer to deal e effectively with decontamination in this development.
2. Objection Two – Design, impact on amenity and historic environment
Whilst residents might support some development on this brownfield site, many believe the current plans represent ‘gross over-development’ and we support that view.
We believe the scale; mass number and height of the buildings will be out of proportion to their surroundings and out of keeping with the local area and historic seafront; that light will be cut out leaving surrounding houses in shade and concerns have been expressed about a potential ‘wind tunnel’ effect caused by the layout and design of the tall buildings.
We believe the design is not in keeping with the Regency and historic feel of the area, and surrounding properties will experience a loss of open space and sky because the development will overshadow their homes.
We are concerned that firstly the height of the gasworks is being used to justify the height of the new buildings and that this is not comparable since the gasworks does not obscure light or views; secondly that the height of the current Marine Gate is being used to justify the height of the new tower blocks and is not comparable to a series of blocks in this area.
3. Objection Three – Infrastructure capacity – social and highways impact
That the creation of a new and permanent community of 700 plus residents will put pressure on local schools, dentists, and GP surgeries. That there is no secondary school within easy walking distance is already an issue in this area. This has potential to increase car usage with ‘school run’ and work journeys on roads that are already congested. Should the development go ahead, we think a planning condition should be included that it must be car free. This would ensure there is no increase in congestion or pollution or undermining of the City’s goal to become carbon neutral.
4. Objection Four – Affordable housing – City Plan Part 2
We are concerned that the current plans do not respond to local housing needs and don’t meet the requirements or aspirations of City Plan Part 2.
More housing is needed in this area that is genuinely affordable to people on local wages. More social and family housing is needed too.
The provision of 40% affordable housing may have helped to mitigate the feelings of opposition for this proposal but the developers seem reluctant to deliver any affordable housing. This means that many local people feel that this development will do nothing to benefit the local community.
These properties appear to be luxury flats and we understand they will be marketed abroad for investment purposes instead of homes for people to become part of the local community. In the consultation Zooms, Berkeley was explicit about the importance of the overseas market to the success of their developments. This approach has the potential to artificially inflate prices and exclude local people. It will also leave shops and services included within the build without day-to-day trade, as has occurred at the Marina. It should be noted that both residents and the Kemp Town Society highlight the need to learn lessons from the Marina Development.
It is entirely possible that occupants arriving for short breaks with sea views 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 are concerned that instead of realising the potential of the site to contribute to housing need and a thriving community it could have the opposite effect of becoming a ‘soulless’ monolithic environment disassociated from local people.
Please note we wish to attend and speak at the Planning Committee when this application is discussed.
Councillor Nancy Platts and Councillor Gilliane Williams