Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:


(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public;


(b)         Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 15 November 2019;


(c)          Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 15 November 2019.


21a     Petitions


21.1    There were none.


21b     Written Questions


21.2    It was noted that one written question had been received.


            Libraries Plan


21.3    Mr Hawtree was invited forward to present his question (set out at page 1 of the addendum to the main agenda) and below:


21.4    “When I asked the Chair at Full Council, what public involvement there would be in the “Libraries Plan”, he merely replied that Councillors could attend a “presentation” about it on November 19, which did not answer my supplementary and so would the Chair now please take this opportunity to reply to the unanswered question.”


21.5    The Chair, Councillor Robins responded in the following terms:


            “Public and community engagement will be in four main ways:


             - Surveys to gather the views of library users across the city;

             - Focus group work to gather more qualitative information from particular groups such as young people, and people with special needs;

             - Research into the views of non-users of libraries; and

             - Engagement through local community groups to get specific feedback from geographical areas or community interest groups


            There will also be input from partner organisations who regularly work with libraries and from libraries staff and volunteers. At the Members working group on Tuesday this week, Members requested a longer period for public consultation, so this will now take place in January and February 2020.  Therefore, the Libraries Plan report will come to this committee in June and onto P&R and full council in July 2020, subject to finalisation of committee dates in December.”


            Deputation(s) – Whitehawk Hill and the Racecourse Landscape and City Plan Part 2


21.6    It was noted that one Deputation had been received.


21.7    Mr Bikers was invited forward to present his deputation (set out at page 7 of the addendum) and below:


           Whitehawk Hill and the wider Racecourse Landscape are one of Brighton and Hove’s most important assets, on a par with the Royal Pavilion and Preston and Hove Parks, for example. Whitehawk Hill is a statutorily designated Local Nature Reserve and most of it is statutory access land. It supports a range of rare and scarce habitats and species. It is the South Downs in our city and is a gateway to the wider Downs. It is well used and well loved by people from across the City, and especially by its neighbouring communities. Volunteers from these communities are working with the council’s ranger to conserve and restore its habitats and landscapes for people and wildlife.Despite all of this, this landscape is threatened with damaging development because sites within it are included in the list of housing allocations in City Plan Part 2. These allocations are based on the conclusions of the Urban Fringe Assessments, conclusions that were not adequately evidenced and are unsound. Further, despite meeting all the criteria, this landscape was not proposed for Local Green Space designation in the Urban Fringe Assessments and was not included as such in the City Plan. When asked, council officers were unable to offer any explanation for this.Public opposition to development on Whitehawk Hill was clearly demonstrated during the Save Whitehawk Hill campaign, which opposed the Homes for Brighton and Hove proposals which emerged last year. This included full public meetings, the ‘Beating the Bounds’ walk with at least 120 people and a petition which attracted more than 1400 signatures.


Friends of Whitehawk Hill have submitted a document to the council setting out their case for the removal of these sites from the allocations in City Plan Part 2, as well as for the designation of this landscape as a Local Green Space. This includes evidence, for example, from ecological surveys carried out this year by professional ecologists. It demonstrates that development of these sites would damage ecology, landscape and views and people’s access to and enjoyment of this landscape.


Friends of Whitehawk Hill have tried repeatedly to engage with councillors and officers over this but whilst some councillors have been supportive, it seems clear that officers do not want to engage with us over the substance of our case. Instead, they have rejected our attempts to engage and indicated that this is something that should be dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate, a national body remote from our city and landscapes. This is a plan for Brighton and Hove and Brighton and Hove Council can and should take ownership of the decisions involved in its preparation, including the decisions about the future of these sites. It should not wash its hands of them.


We ask Brighton and Hove Council to do the right thing, remove these sites from the list of housing allocations, designate it as a Local Green Space and develop a positive vision for the whole of this landscape. We would be happy to work with the council to make this case and deliver this vision and to this end we further urge the council to engage with us so that we can work together.”


21.8    The Chair, Councillor Robins responded in the following terms:


“Thank you for deputation.


Consultation on the Draft City Plan Part 2 ended on the 13 September 2019 after ten weeks of consultation and the Planning Policy team have considered all of the representations that were put forward during that period. A revised City Plan Part 2 is due to be considered by the council in January, and if approved, will be published as the Proposed Submission version for six weeks formal consultation.


It would not be appropriate for the Council to look at the submitted evidence at this very late stage. It would be unfair to all those who did make valid representations within the prescribed period and were not given any further opportunity to submit further information. 


We do acknowledge the considerable effort and energy that The Friends of Whitehawk Hill have put into their evidence gathering and would encourage the group to engage in the next stage of consultation.  If after reading the Proposed Submission City Plan Part 2, you still consider the plan to be unsound, your objections and supporting analysis will need to be formally submitted during the consultation period. Duly made representations will then be considered alongside the submitted City Plan Part Two by an independent planning inspector appointed by the government.”


21.9    RESOLVED - That the contents of the deputation and the Chair’s response to it be noted and received.

Supporting documents:


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