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Minutes of the 15 November 2005 Community Meeting

1. Helen Gregory, Acting Local Development Team Manager, Planning Strategy & Projects at Brighton & Hove City Council, addressed the meeting on the Local Development Framework. Rob Fraser was also there to answer questions afterwards.

There are two documents for consultation: the Draft Statement of Community Involvement, and Core Strategy Issues and Options.
There are many new documents and much new jargon accompanying the LDF. A set of planning documents together forming the new development plan for the city. The Local Development Plan is still valid for the next three years. The Council always had a statutory duty to prepare these documents to protect amenities and the environment in the public interest.

General purpose and function of planning documents has not changed, but some purposes have changed.

Key principles:
flexibility: quicker and more responsive to local circumstances;
soundness: evidence gathering, discussion of key issues and priority for planners to consider;
spatial planning: another new feature – means rather than traditional policies saying yes or no to development, possible to plan around key issues – safety, education etc.;
sustainable development: taking forward some work already achieved by the Council with developers, eg library, station and similar developments, eg Varndean College. SD is a key priority for government also.
community involvement: taken into account when considering planning applications.

OLD SYSTEM

NEW SYSTEM

Structure plan

SE plan

Brighton & Hove local plan

LDF

Supplementary planning

supplementary planning documents

Two key dates for feedback:
Consultation process – 21.11.05
Core Strategy, issues & options document: visions for the city, key issues and possible approaches to tackling them: 16th December 2005.

Q: Harmony of architecture eg in Conservation areas?
A: Each application will be considered individually.

Q: Are there any limits to growth?
A: There is ongoing monitoring regarding limits to growth, eg on the Marina.

Q: New framework coming in – does it have to be cleared by the government or the region by coming into place?
A: We are now in the transition period – working to a three-year timetable. Early issues stage and options for core strategy at present.
Autumn 2006 – initial state for adoption 2008. The government sets its own guidelines on the stages we have to go to.
Independent planning inspector will look at documents as a whole – independent planning enquiry. Need to have regard to framework of policies set out by SE Plan for the region.

Q: How much flexibility is there in this?
A: SE plan for the region will give strategic policies for growth as a whole. Recognizes that Brighton is a hub for tourism and transport – specific policies take into accounts its qualities within the regional plan. The SE Plan is in draft form at the moment – consultation on this document ongoing until early next year – not a fixed document. Through consultation like this we can feed up to SE Regional Govt. We will make sure our issues and policies are reflected in the document.

South coastal towns – transport etc. – decision-making outside the city and sub-regional level.

Q: Concept of townscapes under the old plan – how much will be reformulated under the new plan?
A: Working group under local authorities making up SE Coastal Region, from Chichester to Rye. Urban Character Study will provide background information on the character of the city as a whole, looking at particular areas – Conservation Area Character Appraisal also looking at the city as a whole. Designing specific policies for specific areas.

Q: Re RAH – has the Council written a development brief for the RAH, or is it planning to do so?
A: No – didn’t seriously consider appropriate response for the site at the beginning – depends on resources available, and potential development of the site. Extremely lengthy process to take it forward in a robust way. In this situation, chose to take another approach – send a series of letters to the Trust indicating some issues they should address, also that at some stage they should communicate with the local community. Have not had the resources – had to deliver a great deal towards the LDF. A lot of experienced planners are off on maternity leave, so haven’t had the resources to take on planning briefs. On the other hand, have put forward guidelines for the Trust to consider. Have heard from the RAH – the Trust has indicated that they have followed that advice in looking at different parts of the site. Should present some of their findings to a public meeting – trying to set a date for that. In terms of the city, it is not a major site when compared to major sites currently being considered – it is a significant site, but Council doesn’t anticipate high profile development. Tall buildings policy excludes most of the Conservation Area. It is a large site, so it is significant, but Council would not encourage a significant level of new development.

Q: The Trust should communicate with the local community – how far should this go and how much is it the Trust’s responsibility, and when does it become the developer’s responsibility?
A: There has been a change in terms of new legislation. Developers now also have a requirement to indicate how they have involved the community in consultation. Could do it in the traditional way of developers – only advertising on site, but this will impact on three different communities, so HG hopes the Council has encouraged the developer to consult with local communities.

Q: If organisations such as this developed our own ideas, would this be responded to positively?
A: Interesting approach – HG not sure what anyone would do with it. Local planning authority can give guidance to developer, but can’t require developer to develop a site in a particular way.

Q: Normally if there is a planning brief, that would be the basis for refusing permission, if the proposed development didn’t comply with it.
A: If the local community came up with a whole range of ideas for the site, but these were not viable, then the developer wouldn’t be able to use them. But if the community entered into a dialogue with the developer and came up with something that the developer could take on board and which was compliant with development policies, that would be useful.

Q: Our clear understanding is that the Trust has initially to offer the site to another health service provider, however, they couldn’t come up with the money that a developer would. Also required to maximise their return, so they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Members of the community are interested in seeing the site retained for public benefit – health or child-related purposes. The trust could be in contact with other health providers, but then because the Trust wants to maximise potential, they could say negotiations have run into the ground, and they are going to sell to a developer.
A: This is a difficult situation – the local plan doesn’t provide detailed development plan, but there are policies which protect community uses – this would include doctors’ surgeries, clinics, and by implication hospital use. With similar sorts of developments, we have seen that whereas the whole site may not have the potential for community use, there may be an argument for retaining some of the site for community use. There is a lot that the developer will need to demonstrate. Local plan will se out general policies about design and general principles of development – parking, open spaces, community infrastructure requirements – there is a framework for dealing with the proposal when it comes forward, although not a planning brief – planning groundrules to be considered.

Q: Noting change of use – Council would have views about it if the use was changed completely from community use – clinic, health centre etc.? Re guidance to the Health Trust – is this confidential or in the public domain?
A: Pre-application advice, therefore confidential. We consider it to be a landmark building, and in a Conservation Area, therefore appropriate development is a consideration. The building makes a positive contribution to the Conservation Area. Would have to show that any replacement building would make an equal or better contribution. Looking at viability of the site for different uses and adaptability of the site for different uses.

Council does not believe main RAH building is listable (although aware that application has been made), but the building makes a ‘positive contribution’ to the area. Any demolition would have to be justified, and any new building would have to be its equal or better.

2. Minutes of last meeting approved.

3. Report of Parking Review by Corinne Attwood & Newsletter Policy by Philippa Sankey

No defamatory articles; in case of any article critical of another organisation, they will be given the right of reply in the same issue. Aiming for 50/50 balance of copy and advertising. Contributions welcomed from residents. Objective: to raise money from the newsletter for the Alliance.

4. Treasurer’s Report

£2,000 in the bank – advertising revenue. £1100 set aside for printing forthcoming newsletter. If anyone knows an accountant in the area, Adam Jones would appreciate help with monitoring, to ensure that we are above board; also accounts have to be verified by the AGM by an independent examiner – does not need to be an accountant. Free small ads available in the newsletter – anyone with an event eg school fete or fair etc.

5. Planning Issues

PS suggested collaboration re RAH with MCHA and West Hill – holding joint public meeting in the New Year. Chair of MCHA greed to this suggestion.

6.Website

Volunteer needed to help with this – important tool of communication.

7. Street Reps

Volunteers needed

8. A.O.B.

One of our advertisers is providing taster half-hour aromatherapy massage sessions forthcoming Friday on 'Children in Need Day', all proceeds to the charity.

Schoolchildren – young parents will know about this issue of problems in the city centre of access to secondary school of their choice because all schools are in the suburbs. You need to be near your school to access it. Parents will have received the necessary documents to make their needs known. Introducing a policy whereby a selection of schools is made to appear nearer to the city centre than they really are. Otherwise community will become unbalanced – parents will have to move away from the city centre. Important issue even for people who don’t have children, from the community point of view. Views had to be made known by end of November.

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