A campaign to fight high-rise developments in Hove could provide the springboard for a wider-reaching community movement.
A meeting of the Hove Gold group saw residents plan how to get more organised in tackling not just planning applications but other neighbourhood issues.
The meeting, at Holland Road Baptist Church on Friday evening, was called in response to plans for an 80-room hotel and 80 flats on the corner of Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue, put forward by Northern Irish company RKO Developments.
But campaigners also wanted to come up with a plan to improve how Hove Gold gets its message out to residents in the face of a slew of planning applications for high rises in the area.
Goldsmid ward Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn told the gathered community how developers are targeting the BN3 postcode as one of the most desirable in the country.
She said: “We need to get together as a community and start to muscle up to fight that.
“It’s not just about planning applications but creating a neighbourhood hub, sharing our contacts and email addresses.”
She believes bringing the community together is essential by starting out with a forum and a hub would help people help inform people about planning applications as well as a wide variety of issues in the ward.
‘People aren’t aware’
Councillor O’Quinn used the example of the Hove Park Cafe rebuild which was approved with minimal objections as people had not realised it was happening even though notices were posted in the area.
The cafe owner has permission to demolish it and build a Japanese style structure in its place.
She said: “Something we discovered, a lot of people are not aware of planning applications when they come in.
“A lot of people don’t know there are proposals for a hotel on the corner and 80 flats. Why should people know?”
Notices have to be posted in public, and these are often on lampposts. The immediate neighbours are also informed of any planning application.
Otherwise the only option people have is catching sight of a story in the local press or checking the weekly list on planningapps.brighton-hove.gov.uk/online-applications
Chair of the housing and new homes committee, Labour and Goldsmid ward councillor John Allcock spoke about the need for housing in the city as there is a desperate need for affordable homes.
Councillor Allcock said he knew homelessness and housing were big issues and people wanted houses.
He said: “The hotel is not helping the housing problem. It’s going to increase traffic and pollution.
“There is a lot of concern about high rise nature of what’s going on and that’s combined with the other high rise things and a canyon developing along Davigdor and Cromwell Road.
There is a local need for affordable family accommodation.”
Save Hove campaigner Valerie Paynter recommended writing to councillors on the planning committee as well as sharing their views of the application.
She also recommended people keep an eye on any updates and add to their previous comments.
Former councillor and ex-chair of the planning committee Christopher Hawtree said developers spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on reports and consultations.
He recommended people look at design statements and executive summaries to save time.
Mr Hawtree urged people to get involved and fight encroaching development in the area.
He said: “I have a feeling from long experience people may be overwhelmed by detail, but what I have found from campaigns is you need a few people steering it and then you have the troops to lend the ammunition.
“You don’t need to feel overwhelmed by planning law across the country.”
An extra 1,300 homes would be built in Goldsmid ward, should all the planned and proposed developments go through including the areas around the station and Sackville Road.
In Lyon Close 150 flats in four blocks are approved along with another 52 flats in a new block on Davigdor Road.
On July 10 the redevelopment of the Sackville Road Industrial Estate goes before Brighton and Hove City Council planning committee.
This will see buildings of between two and 15 storeys creating 581 homes, 10 live/work units and a care community providing 260 homes.
A further 186 flats are proposed for the Hove Gardens scheme by the station.
Not counted in these figures are Sussex County Cricket Club’s plans to develop the pub in Eaton Road into flats, or the potential redevelopment of Wickes and Tapi Carpets in Davigdor Road.
A website and Facebook page were set up earlier this year under the name Hove Gold, to bring people together and create a neighbourhood plan.
The Sackville Trading Estate application is discussed by the planning committee when it meets in public at Hove Town Hall from 1pm on Wednesday July 12.