Ashdown Road Recommendation
The influence of recent planning decisions on the outcome of 2 Ashdown Road
A recent Appeal Decision
by P.W. Clark of The Government’s Planning Inspector, affecting in a neighbouring conservation area, in deciding to grant permission for BH2008/03194 (to build 4 houses on "land to the rear of 140-146 Springfield Rd"), overturning The Council’s refusal of permission, is likely to be in the minds of Case Officers.
There is clear evidence within the Appeal Decision
that Case Officer Kate Brocklebank's recommendation (that Carelet's greenfield development should be permitted) contributed to the Government Inspector’s decision to uphold the appeal against Council's refusal to build on land to the rear of 140-146 Springfield Rd.
Princes Road and Springfield Road greenfield developments
On being refused by the Council, The Springfield Road developer referred the Appeal Inspector to the Council's inconsistency in recommending that development should go ahead on Carelet's greenfield plot, which like the Springfield greenfield plot is adjacent to the Coastways railway corridor. The Springfield plot (next to London Road Station) is handier than Carelet’s plot for public transport, though the developer has also managed to convince the Inspector (with support from a traffic/parking survey similar to that submitted by Carelet) that there is surplus on-street parking within a reasonable distance (400 M).
Suplus on-street parking in Ashdown Road
I expect that both the Ashdown Road developer and The Council’s Highways Manager will argue in THE PLANS LIST (when we get to see it) that there is a sufficient suplus of on-street parking within 400M from 2 Ashdown Road. Note that the traffic survey done for Carelet and performed during the Raj Motors era, even highlighted some surplus on-street parking in Ashdown Road itself.
Planning inspector’s support for abandonment of planning policy
The Inspector's logic in the Springfield Rd Appeal Decision is awful, because he allows himself to be led entirely by the Council's new mantra balancing the completing claims of different land users and the community’s long-term requirements for open space
) without realising that there is a current deficiency of open space in Brighton and Hove.
This new mantra apparently overrides planning policy. In granting permission to Carelet, Brighton and Hove City Council:
1) ditched one of the most sacred of the saved policies in its own Local Plan: (planning obligation QD28 Chapter 3.123) on greenfield development
2) completely ignored the Government Planning Policy Guidance PPG17 Diagram 1 and paragraph 10 on open space (which a Government Planning Inspectorate ought to uphold!!!
Note that by subscribing to Brighton and Hove City Council's new mantra instead of the Government's own planning policy guidance PPG17, the Appeal inspector (who is meant to represent the Government as well as holding the Council to its own policies!) did not require the Springfield Road developer to consult local residents by doing the recommended open space assessment. The many local residents who use London Road Station and enjoy the amenity of open space opposite Platform 1 have not had any say at all in land use.
The new mantra "balancing the completing claims of different land users" set against “the community’s requirements for open space” really means ONE THING ONLY:
cramming too many houses into a densely populated area where pressures on street infrastructure are already near breaking-point (especially for disenfranchised pedestrians who are unable to squeeze between parked cars)
Impact on Ashdown Road as part of The Round Hill Conservation Area
Although 2 Ashdown Road does not involve greenfield development, the site is nevertheless important to the Conservation Area. It is overlooked by many immediate neighbours and some of the best distant views of The Round Hill Conservation area are Woodvale, Tenantry Down and above, from where the proposed dormer and new buildings would be eyesores i.e. detrimental to the appreciation of the lines of roofs, especially those along Richmond Road and Wakefield Road.
The effect on street infrastructure (traffic/parking etc) would be my own main reason for refusal, but this Council is RUNNING SCARED OF LOSING APPEALS and NOT MEETING ITS HOUSING TARGETS (now that big projects MARINA / KING ALFRED in the DEVELOPMENT AREAS identified in The Core Strategy have been shelved). Green urban open space and conservation areas are the sacrificial lambs. Instead, we are being offered more buildings in areas which already have twice the average UK population density (for a medium-sized city) and more traffic in an area so congested that it is at the heart of a controversy concerning residents’ parking.
A mantra which uses the concept of “balance” and means “one thing only” is being used to achieve outcomes which completely ignore both local and national planning policies.
The Carelet decision established the precedent of greenfield development within conservation areas and increasing the demand for on-street parking in the face of intolerable pressures on street infrastructure.
The Springfield Road Appeal decision by a Government Inspector obliges the Council “to be consistent” by approving more of the same i.e. ignoring policies to protect conservation areas, the rights of local residents to open space assessment and our requirements for green open space (even for visual amenity alone.)
The successful Springfield Rd appeal (which ignores the folly of increasing pressure on on-street parking) will have made the Council run scared of refusing 2 Ashdown Road. This is why the same Case Officer who recommended granting Carelet's backland development is now recommending that permission be granted for the 2 Ashdown Road conversion and backland development.
EFFECTS OF BAD DECISIONS YET TO BE SUFFERED
The upheaval in Princes Road, Springfield Rd and possibly more upheaval in Ashdown Road is yet to come
Given the abandonment of planning policies, local residents can only note the political affiliations of the Councillors who abandoned planning policy by:
1. giving us the nuisances of noise, odour and dust by supporting Veolia’s Hollingdean Depot applications
2. establishing the precedent of greenfield development in conservation areas by voting Carelet through.
Case Officers can adjust to their political masters by making token reference to some planning policies to conceal the fact that their recommendations go against crucial planning policies designed to protect communities.
The nuisances of Hollingdean Depot have been the highlight of 2009. 2010 promises a General Election, but also massive upheaval in Princes Road, Springfield Road, and also Ashdown Road if the same interests carry the day on 25th November 2009. We will have to wait until Spring 2011 before we have the next opportunity to make big changes to the composition of our Local Council. Councils cannot ignore Appeal Inspectors’ decisions because lost Appeals mean an extra cost to ratepayers. We need both Government and Council to carry out their own planning policies.
Another problem for Conservation Areas is that the big developers have pulled out of the areas designated as “suitable for development” in The Council’s Core Strategy. We know what has happened to the The King Alfred and Marina schemes.
This means that the Government and Council depend more heavily on "windfall sites" (in historic parts of the city where street infrastructure is already under pressure) to meet their housing targets. In the absence of big schemes, multiple approvals are being given to schemes involving 3 or 4 houses. This eats into the fabric of our communities and subjects us to more upheaval and further brick and mortar, replacing the visual amenity offered by private open space on which the presence of wildlife in our Conservation Areas largely depends. Also damaged is the period-look of our neighbourhoods as new dormer windows spoil both near and distant views.