The city needs more affordable homes - but not these on this ‘greenfield’ site

Ed Allison-Wright?s article in last week?s Brighton and Hove Independent
Ed Allison-Wright?s article in last week?s Brighton and Hove Independent

I suspect many Saltdean residents were shocked by Ed Allison-Wright’s article.

I suspect many Saltdean residents were shocked by Ed Allison-Wright’s article about the proposed housing development for Falmer Avenue.

It is perhaps no surprise that, as a property developer, he gave such uncritical support for the Hyde Homes planning application. But for those local people campaigning against the development, it showed a complete lack of understanding of the issues.

Everyone agrees about the lack of affordable housing in the southeast. The city council has built 97% of its houses in the last year on brownfield sites. But it is now under pressure from the government’s planning inspector and the rules of its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to look at the so-called urban fringe - that is, greenfield sites.

One of the reasons people love to live in this city is the easy access to both the sea and the countryside. Removing this is surely of benefit to nobody other than those developers who stand to make more profits from building homes on green spaces than they do from brownfield sites. This is an issue across the city and has triggered campaigns against such developments in Ovingdean and other areas.

The Hyde Homes application is for 36 new homes. The area in question is directly adjacent to the national park. Until 2010, it was actually part of the national park - before being removed for reasons that remain murky and unclear.

There are several major problems building on this site - which Mr Allison-Wright does not mention. There is a total lack of infrastructure for new homes; the local school is over-subscribed even with a new planned extension; there are no local dentist or doctor places; there are only two bus routes into Saltdean; and few local shops.

Traffic in the area is already causing major congestion around Saltean, particularly into Rottingdean and along the A259 seafront road. This development would increase that by approximately 100 cars. Rush hour is already grid-locked.

The proposed access point is at the top of an extremely steep hill (25% gradient) that freezes during the winter making it inaccessible to the people who would live there.

The field being planned to build on has a flood pit or “bund” on it that stops rain run off from the nearby South Downs flooding the town. The plans to build right over that would mean no safety against flooding for residents.

The plans themselves show 36 near-identical homes - nicknamed “the laundrette” due to their resemblance to washing machines (white boxes with round windows). They are in no way in keeping with the look of the rest of the area.

These are not the views of “just a few Nimby’s”. A public meeting to discuss the plans at Falmer Avenue held at short notice attracted more than 300 people - the vast majority opposing the plans. A petition to stop the development has more than 2,600 signatures and the planning application records a hefty 338 written objections logged by the council.

It is clear that the council must plan for more houses. But the Saltdean site is completely inappropriate. Eating into our precious green spaces only benefits those that stand to gain financially. The city would lose on so many levels.

Davy Jones is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown, the constituency that includes Falmer Avenue.