Gardens & wildlife

Conservation questionnaire


The Government's PPG 17 Guidance Assessing needs and opportunities: a companion guide to PPG17,

Under the above document,

(1) open space needs should be locally-derived. This means consulting local residents. This is a requirement under PPG17 whether a threatened open space is publicly or privately owned. Green hillsides offer visual amenity as well as contributing to biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

(2) open space assessment need to be performed on a NEIGHBOURHOOD BASIS. Beware of studies which claim to be "Citywide".

These pool all the large parks (Preston Park, Stanmer Park, The Level etc) in Brighton and Hove, and suggest that they belong to ALL NEIGHBOURHOODS.

PPG17 makes it quite clear that this is no way to do open space assessment, since not all residents are able to travel safely to large parks

A NEIGHBOURHOOD-SPECIFIC study involves quantitative and qualitative assessment of the open spaces within an individual neighbourhood.

NEIGHBOURHOODS like Round Hill are bounded by large main roads (Ditchling Rd, Upper Lewes Rd, Lewes Rd) which parents do not trust children to cross and the elderly may not want to cross.

Round Hill residents may recall a Household Survey, distributed by the Council and private consultant PMP in 2007, to provide data for what was called a "City-wide Open Spaces Study". A report is expected in 2008.

We have been promised that PMP's report will be helpful in preventing the loss of important open space. PMP's stated aim is to establish city-wide standards and the report will be a 'background paper' to inform emerging planning policy. The plan is to then apply the PMP report at the neighbourhood scale to determine local levels of provision.

A study based on the wrong questions
The main weakness of PMP's "city-wide" approach is their limited terms of reference in data collection. The Government's Assessing needs and opportunities: a companion guide to PPG17 states quite clearly that assessment should be NEIGHBOURHOOD-SPECIFIC.

A "city-wide" approach which pools a few large parks and recreation grounds between several neighbourhoods, will only succeed in marginalizing communities such as Round Hill, which are completely lacking in accessible open spaces on public land.

PMP's 2007 Household Survey questions based themselves on how frequently residents accessed and used open spaces. The questions failed to consider hillside (relatively inaccessible) open space on private land.

A study which fails to follow Government Guidance
Section 5.1 of The Government's PPG 17 Guidance Assessing needs and opportunities: a companion guide to PPG17 (scroll to page 24) on Deciding The Scope of the Audit states that: audits of provision should encompass "all existing open spaces within the local authority's area, irrespective of ownership and the extent of public access.

I have been told that "local application will only be briefly discussed in the PMP report - the council will do the local application, to include much wider consultation & discussion".

However, I have to ask:

What will be the value of PMP's report to Round Hill?
We already know that that PMP's Household Survey, did not attempt to collect the neighbourhood-specific data which would register the visual amenity of Round Hill's 'green ribbons' and the value & potential value of existing greenfield sites such as Carelet's main freehold, needed for screening our Conservation Area from two industrial zones, one of which now accommodates a MRF and WTS for the whole of Brighton and Hove. It is therefore imperative that we engage in the wider consultation & discussion with the Council, without being drawn into methodologies and benchmarks which are "not fit for purpose".

A truly neighbourhood-specific study needs its own methodology
We are likely to be shown methodologies which the Council uses for assessing the value of open spaces, which will consider factors such as (a) context (b) entrances (c) general facilities (d) landscape character and quality (e) security and vandalism (f) children and young people (g) elderly people (h) visually impaired people and wheelchair users (i) adults and health with an emphasis on sports facilities (j) participation and culture (k) ecology and sustainability (l) management, maintenance and cleanliness (m) city image (n) extended service assessment e.g. presence of toilet/changing facilities &/or special attractions.

In the past, the Council has used a Scoring Matrix, rating open spaces as "Excellent", "Good", "Fair", "Weak", "Poor", according to the fore-mentioned categories (a) to (n). This kind of methodology is always going to value publicly owned and accessible open spaces above inaccessible open spaces on private land.

The Government's PPG17 does not commit the Council to a methodology which would put Round Hill's open spaces on the back-burner
It is therefore important that we are familiar with the Government's Assessing needs and opportunities: a companion guide to PPG17 so that we can suggest a more suitable methodology for valuing Round Hill's open spaces. We need to emphasize that the context of OUR METHODOLOGY is extreme shortage or complete lack of publicly accessible open space, and we should not be required to use the same methodology being applied in neighbourhoods in Brighton and Hove which include parks and recreation grounds. If our open space needs are to be truly locally-derived, then we must have a say in the methodology used to value them.

The Council will not wish to create new policies (e.g. a Supplementary Planning Document) for a single open space, so we need to think in terms of all the hillside plots and green-ribbons in densely-populated Round Hill. Perhaps the high density of Round Hill and the inability of its infrastructure to support more backland development is the key to getting better protection for our greenbelt. A suitable SPD would need to recognise that the value of the Conservation Area does not lie in the period-architecture of our street-frontages alone. Backland (i.e. green hillside space) plays a considerable part in the character and appearance of Round Hill.

If the Council decides to put PMP's report to one side, while directly engaging Round Hill residents in consultation and discussion, here is a foretaste of our feelings about our open spaces.

These responses were compiled in the wake of the Council's 2006 Open Spaces Questionnaire, which caused Round Hill residents similar concern by focusing almost exclusively on parks and recreation grounds, contrary to the Government's PPG17 Guidance.

Question 1
Do you think the remaining green spaces in Round Hill should remain undeveloped? Or do you think it is reasonable for landowners to develop land for occupation by new residents? If so, would some types of building be more acceptable than others?

The overwhelming response from respondents was against further development in Round Hill (67 responses out of 69). Many think that the area is already too densely populated (17 responses) and others highlighted the parking and infrastructure problems that would be exacerbated by further development (13 responses). There was a feeling that green spaces should be conserved particularly because of Round Hill's status as a conservation area (8 responses) and the replies showed widespread concern at the general lack of green spaces or community amenities in Round Hill (23 responses).

Some respondents felt that a level of development was acceptable if it was sympathetic and balanced with conservation concerns (2 responses).

Some of the comments on question 1

1. I think the remaining green spaces in Round Hill should be left undeveloped. The area is already over populated, parking a great issue (we moved here a year and a half ago and have noticed a huge difference in our ability to park our car in that short space of time)Also, how would builders etc access these areas to build these houses suggested behind the Round Hill crescent without a great deal of aggravation to the local residents?

2. They should remain undeveloped, there are little enough green spaces as it is and further development means an addition to the already critical parking problems in the area.

3. I am totally against these proposals. I think that these spaces should remain undeveloped. The area has such a high concentration of buildings already with the attendant problem of parking that any more would add to it. Also I greatly fear for the wildlife in area. I live on the Upper Lewes Rd and have no garden to speak of, but still see foxes, squirrels and various birds passing through it. It would be a disaster if the green area was taken away and all these disappeared and all we have is houses,houses,houses.

4. With so many empty houses + industrial premises, build there if they must. The water table is disturbingly low, and wild life and trees threatened. Leave our green spaces alone.

5. Yes, they should remain undeveloped. There seems to be little point in calling Round Hill a Conservation Area if people are allowed to build more houses on our precious 'green ribbons', which are part of the area's unique character. We have to avoid town cramming. The Council's own character statement mentions our green ribbons. If another Council department were to give the go-ahead for building on those same spaces, it would make a mockery of all the work that went into the preparation of the character statement.

6. I believe that we should endeavour to preserve the green spaces that exist in Round Hill wherever possible. The issues of provision of adequate parking and access in an area that is already densely populated remain unresolved. Round Hill is a conservation area and it will not be possible to preserve and retain the character of Round Hill if we develop the few remaining green areas in this already congested part of Brighton. Developers always make assurances that any new buildings will have parking provided and they will not impact on existing residents, but the reality is often different. I cannot see any new developments that will not adversely affect the area. I hope planners will refuse the latest planning application as they have refused others previously.

7. They should remain undeveloped. The area is crowded with insufficient green areas.

8. The green spaces should remain untouched by the developers. There are many empty, unused existing buildings across the city that could be developed into affordable housing, rather than expensive loft style apartments for Londoners.

9. This is already a crowded hill. What green we do have, much of it enclosed and safe for wildlife, must be preserved as our city's lungs. What is neither green nor yet built on should be helped to become more green open space.

10. I would very much like to see green spaces remain, although the principle of redeveloping inner city for higher density 'dwelling' (rather than having sprawling suburbs or 'green-field' development) is also important because of implications for transport etc.

11. In my opinion Round Hill area should not be developed anymore. Too many people live here already with too few community facilities.

12. YES - Green spaces should remain undeveloped. Building on green spaces reduces levels of vegetation and wildlife which directly affects residents' quality of life. It also encroaches on the unique skyline and vistas (not to mention privacy) of the area. With more houses accomodating more people via flat conversions and student accomodation (paticularly prevalent in Round Hill) the introduction of more residents into the area compounds existing issues relating to car parking, traffic 'rat-runs' and pollution levels. The effects of continued 'urbanisation' of the area, with its strong sense of community, is an irreversible and derogatory option.

13. What little is left of 'green space' should remain green to preserve the numan and wild-life well-being. It is an area of conservation, where owners cannot alter features but new build is permissible?

14. I would prefer the remaining green spaces to remain undeveloped - absolutely. Though I understand that landowners may want to develop land - greed is a powerful driver. Single/two storey dwellings are more acceptable.

15. Yes they should remain undeveloped, this is already a crowded area with little enough green space left.

16. YES [to first question] NO [to others] The Roundhill is now densely populated and to have an increase in the numbers living here should NOT be allowed. Where would vehicles generated by these proposed developments park? There is already a severe parking problem in the area. How would emergency vehicles, delivery vans etc. access these areas?

17. The 1978 "Town Plan" designates these areas as conservation areas.

18. The spaces should be kept green.

19. I think that the remaining spaces should be left alone. Roundhill is very developed already and there is no room left for any more buildings. If every inch of land is built on it will feel claustrophobic (even more than it already does).

20. Small houses in keeping with the area are probably ok. Taking up no more than say 50% of the plot, and of course they must have off road parking.

21. YES - should remain undeveloped (We have no local park - the least we can do is keep the few green bits we have).

22. I think green spaces which are rare enough in this day and age are being overdeveloped and a halt should be put to it immediately. Perhaps more of hte brownfield type spaces should be developed and the green spaces left well alone before we totally destroy the natural diversity.

23. These areas should remain undeveloped. If the land has development on already, re-developement is an possiblity but not at a cost to the nature/green areas or to the character of the area. Acceptable and desirable properties that fit in with the surroundings. No more flats parking is at a premium now and it's getting worse.

24. We do think that any remaining green space in Round Hill should be left undeveloped, after all there is little enough green space in the area.

25. Green spaces in Roundhill should be protected against encroaching development. Our gardens and few remaining green areas act as wildlife corridors. The trees and flora also offset CO2 and pollution as well as providing a peaceful sanctuary for residents. There is too much overdevelopment in Brighton and Hove. Many rundown dwellings could be brought back into use.

26. Yes I think all green spaces should remain undeveloped - I am hoping to remove the paving in my back garden (on hte grounds that the land needs to breathe. I think there is a case for making it a requirement to request permission to put paving down in gardens especially in a conservation area.

27. There needs to be a balance between open space and development, with each proposal considered on its merits. That said, the balance in Round Hill seems uneven, so remaining open space should be carefully considered.

28. Generally do not think all these green spaces should be developed. The old garage site may be acceptable. We are particularly concerned at the Cat creep development or any other development actually in Roundhill.

29. YES they should remain undeveloped, the land should be left as it is; due to wildlife that have made their homes and flora.

30. Although I appreciate the need to build new dwellings in the city, this must not be at any cost. The spaces between the buildings in Round Hill are historically important as part of the original road layout but also provide much needed visual amenity for residents who are already crammed into an area with little open space available.

31. Should absolutely 100% be undeveloped, can we not ever stop building and allow the small amout of nature we do have to flourish? Its a disgusting thought of more blocks here. The area is just about bursting at the seams with cars....more flats means more cars. Yet again we can see the city council bowing to more thoughtless development ideas which take away the beauty we still have...I don't think any type of buildings are suitable....why not maybe invest money into keep and caring for the nature there...city council do you actually care? Can you see past ££££? It's not just about us here now it's about the future....and how our next generations can continue....with no nature it does not look bright!

32. Yes - because we have no public open space within Roundhill and because they are one of the features which define the area from afar - a unique townscape vista. We are all only caretakers and should consider that we need to add to the quality of the area by replacing original features such as slate roofs and windows - and defining features of conservation areas such as the green ribbons.

33. Yes - the green spaces are part of the character of the Roundhill conservation area, and it would be a great loss if that character changed.

34. I believe yes good to develop in areas that can take more people. Already Round Hill is sardine packed with people. No more room for cars here. Let alone more bodies.

35. We think the green spaces should remain undeveloped. They are our 'lungs' in an otherwise built-up area with no public open space. Also important for wildlife.

36. We are not opposed in principle to small-scale development eg. extensions, granny flats etc. by owner-occupiers for their own needs and use. However, we are opposed to larger scale developments as we feel that this will impact on the wildlife habitats locally and will remove valuable green space which is at a premium. We also feel that the infrastructure (parking in particular) in Roundhill cannot support larger developments.

37. Leave green spaces. No development.

38. Remain undeveloped. There are hideous, unused parts of Brighton where houses could be built. We want to keep our wildlife - it's all about profits for the few in these proposals, esp. CARELET.

39. Yes I do think the remaining green spaces should remain undeveloped. Our view would be destroyed. Parking the car is impossible here so any more developments would be most unwelcome due to volume of traffic.

40. Yes certainly.

41. Definitely remain undeveloped

42. Yes - they add to the quality of life of residents and most are quite unsuitable for building on ie. on steep slopes or sandwiched between other buildings.

43. Yes I think the remaining green spaces should remain undeveloped because (1) we do not have any parks within walking distance, especially for the elderly (2) the green spaces provide a vital habitation for wildlife under threat (3) there are enough people living in the area already.

44. Leave them as they are. Towns/cities also need a certain amount of wildlife.

45. No buildings should be put on these spaces. There is a lack of green spaces in this area. There should be open spaces for wild life.

46. I feel strongly that the remaining green spaces in Round Hill should remain undeveloped.

47. Yes, they should remain undeveloped. The area is already overcrowded and alos lacks amenities. The green spaces contribute enormously to the character of the area and the quality of our lives. Developments in these spaces always crowd into, and impact on, surrounding residential properties.

48. There are very few green spaces in Round Hill. Corridors and areas of greenery are essential for wildlife, providing vital feeding stations. Additional buildings lead to greater pollution by traffic in an area which is already congested.

49. They should remain undeveloped.

50. Yes, the green spaces must be preserved. Development would destroy the character of the Conservation Area.

51. The few remaining green spaces should remain undeveloped. The Round hill area does not have the infrastructure (eg parking spaces) to cope with more development.

52. Preferably leave spaces undeveloped. If not low rise, low density housing.

53. YES - it is outrageous that developers wish to build on this historic area of Brighton. The Cats Creep should remain as it is - it is an essential part of the character of Round Hill. No further development is acceptable.

54. They should remain undeveloped - this area comprises houses divided into flats and parking is limited. It is already an over-crowded area.

55. I live close to the Cats Creep glade. It's private property and he has the right to sell it on. To use the land for development may not be possible as there is no reasonable access for Emergency services.

56. I think green spaces should remain undeveloped for wildlife and to keep our gardens, so rare in central Brighton. There really isn't space to develop here in my view.

57. I most earnestly hope that the area between Wakefield Rd and Roundhill Crescent will not be developed; comparing this side of the valley with the cramped ranks in the bottom and on the far side makes me feel very fortunate to live where I do. The area on the seaward side of the stairs, being open, is a delight; the area on the northern side always seems a bit bare. I agree with all the comments about more parking problems, access during building and to the houses once built, and more pressure on resources. On the other hand, someone had to pay for the land originally and it seems churlish to prevent them releasing any part of their capital. There were many comments in the replies about "green space", but it is green space that only the fortunate 50%, who live on the correct side of the road, can enjoy. I wonder whether there's any form of "community purchase" scheme that could turn it into a publicly-accessible nature area rather than a publicly-visible (to some) one. There is a form of "wildlife garden" project behind Moulsecoomb station, or of course the area contained within Park Crescent, as examples? To bring two strands together, maybe we should suggest the Council focuses the building on the other side of the railway, on Upper Hollingdean Rd in place of their "dump"? The University of Brighton was recently prevented from building student residences on an area by Preston Barracks on nature grounds, so let's hope the Council listens again.

58. Definitely yes. Backland development has not served Round Hill well. Pressure on infrastucture has reached its limit and is a cause of frustration and conflict among pedestrians and drivers (whether residents with cars or service drivers). The clutter of vehicles spoils the spatial appearance of the streets - they are turning into little more than car parks. Our homes have not yet become 'mere dormitories', largely because of the backland - gardens and small plots which provide valuable habitats and stepping stones for the common wildlife which most of us enjoy.

59. We think the remaining green spaces in this area should remain undeveloped.

Question 2
Would you like to see a greater level of protection in place for some of the green spaces in Round Hill (such as designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance)?

A significant majority of respondents were in favour of a greater level of protection (66 responses out of 69). Respondents particularly highlighted the value provided by wildlife and trees in the area (13 responses) and the area most mentioned for conservation was the space between Richmond Road/Wakefield Road and Round Hill Crescent which is bisected by the Cat Creep (5

Some felt that SNCI status would be of limited use or should only be sought if there were particular species/features to be safeguarded or wondered if SNCI status were the best approach (3 responses).

Some of the comments on question 2

1. I would love to see this occur.

2. Yes,it is time these plans were stopped. This is not a suitable area for further development.

3. I personally, would love to see any protection put in place to preserve these areas. This area NEEDS green spaces.

4. YES. We do the best we can in our garden, but already we've noticed the decline of birds, mammals and insects.

5. Yes. With the middle part of the green ribbon between Richmond Road and Round Hill Crescent being an award-winning wildlife garden, it would make sense to designate all of that green ribbon (from Ashdown Road all the way down Wakefield Road), and other green areas in Round Hill, as SNCIs. There is absolutely no public amenity space in this neighbourhood and these green 'lungs' are vital to the character of the Conservation Area and also to the well-being of its inhabitants, human and animal.

6. Yes

7. Yes, protection from 'development' proposals.

8. I would very much like to see this.

9. If the buildings of roundhill are precious enough to preserve as 'conservation area' status, then surely so are the spaces between them.

10. Yes - I think Round Hill is a special case (but then we'd all say that, wouldn't we!)

11. Yes

12. YES - A greater level of protection against planning applications is important. There appears to be political weight behind wholesale house building in the South East which is at the expense of an already densely populated region with implications on the infrastructure (i.e. roads, sewage, power...) Sites of nature that enhance an area should be exempt from developers' plans with brown field areas a priority.

13. The term itself, 'conservation area' affirms the desire to preserve the historical past. Roundhill is congested as it is with a flourishing student population and inadequate parking during term times. Further building would add to the congestion and destroy the character.

14. Yes - I think all the green spaces should be protected as part of the conservation of the area. There is a lot of wildlife in the wooded area bordering the cat creep steps that moves in and out of gardens.

15. Absolutely.

16. YES We have very little in the way of open green spaces in the area and I would not want to lose those we already have.

17. Yes.

18. Yes

19. Yes! Protect all the green spaces left before they disappear forever.

20. Only if they really are important sites.

21. Yes.

22. If this is the only way we can prevent our green spaces being lost to expensive housing developments then yes but I'd prefer councillors etc to use their common sense and realise that the local infrastructure and local natural diversity cannot cope with further development.

23. The area is losing these spaces fast and requires some sort of protection against greedy land owners who don't care about the people or area, they don't live here! All they are thinking about is money. How many people can i fit in the smallest space i can find?

24. Yes we would like to see a greater level of protection for green space in Round Hill.

25. It would be something to aim for - unfortunately planning laws seem to favour development and car parks over green spaces (witness all the fornt gardens being returned into parking lots!). Perhaps we could find a rare species and get the site designated as a SSI.

26. Yes - certainly the orchards behind the (Cats Creep) gardens in Richmond Road and certainly the copse at the bottom of Princes Road.

27. Greater protection is only appropriate if the space or some feature of it, deserves such protection.

28. Yes but apart from catcreep area where is there?

29. Yes there should be more protection for wildlife around this area, there is little enough of it as it is.

30. Yes - provision for urban forestry and wildlife is an important part of making Brighton an attractive and well-planned city. SNCI status will help to highlight the value to residents and the city as a whole.

31. Yes much higher level of protection..if this is not in place, the round hill and other areas will lose all identity and beauty like so many other once glorious places...

32. Yes - particularly more protection for trees which may not on their own be worthy of preservation but when considered as part of their contribution to green ribbons and the immediate environment, are.

33. I think this is an excellent idea and would preserve the green areas for wildlife and those who live and view the Roundhill area from across the valley.

34. Yes I would to see greater levels of protection for our very precious disappearing green spaces. I adore wild life and would like to preserve it. It is a huge pleasure in my life. I'm sure others agree.

35. This would be a very good plan to protect the area from over-development.

36. We would like to see more protection for the green spaces locally. Many local residents live in flats without gardens and for them these strips of greenery must be invaluable. We appreciate the diversity of wildlife (birds, foxes, etc.) they attract and are relieved that the large local cat population have other places to use as a toilet besides our garden.

There are plenty of developments already going up in this vicinity (Lewes Rd Technical College development, London Rd. Housing Association flats, Part ownership flats on Lewes Rd). Many of these are still unoccupied and we can't see there is a need for further developments in light of this.

37. Yes - can't trust the Council adequately.

38. Yes definitely - we are fortunate to have this rich wildlife in the heart of Brighton but it must be protected.

39. Yes - a site of NCI: the Round Hill does have a history which ought to be preserved also. Brighton doesn't have enough green spaces as it is and they are necessary "breathing spaces" to counteract the pollution from main roads such as Upper Lewes Road.

40. Yes, that's very important. We need to make this land safe for the future as pressure to develop this land will certainly increase.

41. Definitely - whatever it takes.

42. Definitely.

43. That is a good idea. What about using some of the spaces for the local community ie public gardens?

44. Yes.

45. Definitely - particularly for the strips of land between Richmond Road/Wakefield Road and Round Hill Crescent & Also Richmond Road/Mayo Road.

46. Yes I would like to see a greater level of green space protection in Round Hill.

47. Yes. Ideas for some kind of conservation garden in the space adjoining Princes Road and railway were imaginative but require a framework for recognition by the Council and local lanowners, as well as developers, that such developments are not encouraged or appropriate. The designation of a SNCI sounds an excellent idea.

48. Yes definitely. There may be planning policies in the pipeline that cover such areas.

49. Yes.

50. Yes.

51. Greater protection is needed to stop the succession of housing proposals. There should be a presumption in favour of using the city's empty buildings before further development takes place.

52. If this is possible.

53. YES - please protect all green space - for the following reasons:

- round hill and Cats Creep - historic context
- nature conservation
- enough people buildings and cars already. No more please!

54. Yes! Many residents loving here because of the garden views and the community spirit. This is threatened by over-development.

55. My cats use the Cats Creep glade as a playground. They don't hassle the wildlife but if it was designated as a conservation area then there would be bird lovers chasing or poisoning them as an excuse to protect the birds. I would hate it if it were to be developed.

56. Definitely.

57. Yes, definitely, as long as the impact is carried by a community effort rather than being imposed on the few people who actually own the land.

58. Definitely yes. As the Council's policies stand, there is little to prevent any land owner doing what Carelet has done (on their own plot) anywhere in Round Hill, and both Carelet's proposals for residential development have been unanimously refused! Note that the Council's Ecologist says that Carelet could have done the same (with chain-saws, an earth-digger and weedkiller) whether their plot was designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance or not. However, the SNCI designation is nevertheless a factor which Council and Members of the Planning Applications Sub-Committee would take into account RE the outcome of a proposal. This is why it is so outrageous that Carelet use the tactic of removing trees, vegetation and wildlife, devaluing an Open Space before residents have even been consulted via a PPG17 Open Space Survey on the amenity-value of the plot. Council's failure to insist on such a survey shows total neglect of current Government Guidance. Our best hope is a Supplementary Planning Document RE Nature Conservation that focuses deliberately on privately-owned 'green ribbons'/backland plots and has the status of Policy.

59. Yes.


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