Campaigners celebrate as Whitehawk Hill plans scrapped – but they say it's not over yet

Campaigners outside Hove Town Hall
Campaigners outside Hove Town Hall

Campaigners opposing a development on Whitehawk Hill said they were 'jubilant' after plans to build five high-rise housing blocks on the nature reserve were dropped.

Homes for Brighton and Hove, a joint venture between Brighton and Hove City Council and Hyde Housing, has decided to officially drop the proposals at a board meeting today (March 18).

The campaigners said: "The proposals would have cut the reserve in half, damaging its integrity and threatening its wildlife, as well as severing views along the Hill and interrupting access to and from the Downs.

"Whilst fully supporting the demand for social housing and preferably council housing in the city, Save Whitehawk Hill Local Nature Reserve argued this should not be at the expense of nature and the communities that enjoy the Hill, and that other ways of delivering these homes should be sought, such as on the Brighton General Hospital site.

"However, the battle isn’t over as Whitehawk Hill is currently on a list of housing allocations in the City Plan Part 2, which means that there could be another development on the nature reserve in the future."

Ecologist Richard Bickers said: "The next stage in the campaign is to fight to get Whitehawk Hill removed from the list of allocations in City Plan Part 2. We will be submitting a representation challenging the evidence behind this allocation and seeking the continued support of the communities that use and love the Hill to safeguard it for the future."

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: "Proposals from the Homes for Brighton & Hove partnership to develop more than 200 new affordable homes on a site in the north of Whitehawk are to be stopped.

"The decision was taken at a Homes for Brighton & Hove board meeting on Monday March 18 following a report identifying that the development of affordable housing would not be financially viable due to a number of access and technical difficulties on the site.

"Homes for Brighton & Hove is a partnership between Brighton & Hove City Council and the Hyde Group, aiming to build 1,000 new much-needed affordable homes for rent and sale in the city for lower income, local working households.

"The Homes for Brighton & Hove board is made up of three councillors from the main parties on the council’s Housing & New Homes Committee and three representatives from Hyde.

"The Whitehawk site had been identified for housing development in the Draft City Plan Part Two, following the requirement to look for sites for 1,000 new homes on the city’s urban fringe to help meet the urgent need for housing established in the City Plan Part One.

"Feedback from the public consultation and some local opposition expressing concerns about the environmental impact of the proposals were noted by the partners. Landscape and ecology studies have shown that, with certain ecological mitigations in place, housing could be developed on the site without significant adverse impacts on the Local Nature Reserve.

"Plans for the first two Homes for Brighton & Hove proposed developments in Portslade and Coldean are progressing, and further sites are being investigated."

To find out more about the campaign, visit: savewhitehawkhill.org.uk