While Labour and the Greens have been fighting amongst themselves over who gets to run Brighton & Hove City Council, the Conservatives have been fighting on behalf of local residents who want to save the City’s precious green spaces from development.
A new city-wide Labour-Green 10-year development plan called ‘City Plan Part 2’ is out for Consultation this month.
The Plan lists 16 ‘urban fringe’ green spaces across the City for development, including many well-known, much-loved and ecologically-valuable green spaces such as Benfield Valley; Whitehawk Hill, Horsdean Recreation Ground and Coldean green land.
These spaces have been referred to as ‘green lungs’ in our city; and with Brighton’s main street recently announced as the third most polluted in the country, we need these more than ever.
This final consultation is going ahead because at a Special Council Meeting in April, Labour and the Greens joined forces to vote in favour of the plan despite significant opposition from community groups, environmental groups and our Conservative Group of Councillors. It is vital for residents to have their say as this is the last chance to stop the plan going through.
Why there is no need to build on Brighton & Hove’s urban fringe
Let me be clear, there is absolutely no need whatsoever to build on precious green land in the City.
The statistics clearly and unequivocally show this.
The City Plan Part 2 document is required to meet a minimum housing target for the City of 13,200 additional homes.
Deleting the greenfield urban fringe sites from City Plan (Section H2) and developing only on brownfield sites listed in the plan would still leave Brighton & Hove City Council over 1900 homes above the minimum target.
There is therefore absolutely no need to build on our precious green land.
Local community groups are not buying Labour and the Greens’ lines to them that they must build on the urban fringe to meet their housing targets when people can see the city’s current housing figures in black and white for themselves.
The Sussex Wildlife Trust even wrote to Labour and said it is disingenuous for them to claim that these sites are required in order for the plan to be found sound by a Planning Inspector when the council’s own evidence base for the proposed submission plan demonstrates a potential surplus of 1,665 dwellings against the City Plan target.
Labour’s betrayal and the ‘not so green’ Greens
Many residents’ groups feel let down and betrayed by Labour and the Greens.
One group, which is focused on saving Whitehawk Hill from development, held a public meeting back in 2018 to discuss their opposition to Whitehawk Hill being included in City Plan Part 2. The meeting was attended by two senior representatives from Labour and the Greens that would go on to become Leader of the Council and Mayor the following year.
After that meeting the Labour representative, who is today the Labour Group Leader, promised that she would oppose ‘any proposals for this site to be developed and supporting the residents in their campaign’. But after the local council election, to the shock of the local community group, Labour broke this promise and voted to keep Whitehawk Hill in the City Plan.
And environmental groups across the City were appalled by the Greens’ decision to vote for City Plan part 2. As one environmental group the Greens aren’t that green any more.
Have your say
With Labour and the Greens having a Coalition agreement on housing, the Conservative Group has stepped up to be the main focus for opposition for the City Plan Part 2.
Since the meeting in April our Conservative Councillors have been working hard, helping to organise local petitions and stand up for residents across the City that want to defend their green spaces and have been in touch with hundreds of environmental groups that are against the plan.
Now time is critical to save the City’s green spaces from development. It is vital that residents have their say in one of two ways.
- Sign a petition - at www.brightonhoveconservativecouncillors.com. With 1250 signatures we can secure a full debate at council meeting and try one last time to overturn this.
- Complete the consultation – residents must have their say in the consultation before 31 October 2020.
We now have a short window to overturn this decision and convince Labour and the Greens to do a U-turn. Labour did a U-turn on the temporary cycle lanes this week and they may well do one here if enough residents come forward. There is still time.
Since the initial vote in April it should have become clear to both Labour and the Greens that communities valued their green spaces more than ever before.
The Conservatives will not abandon residents fighting to defend our green spaces.