What is the city plan?
The city faces before it a major decision – one that will shape the future of our built environment and green spaces for many years to come. On Thursday 23rd April, councillors in Brighton and Hove will debate the City Plan Part Two, Labour's plan for housing and development in the City. This plan, helps the council decide what building it allows - and what it doesn't, and what rules it sets out.
The plan went to public consultation nearly two years ago to give the public a chance to have a say on the plan. Green Councillors wrote an extensive response to this consultation which you can read below. Since the consultation, some of the Green Councillor proposals have been adopted and are now within the plan going to councillors to agree.
However, the plan can still go further which is why Green Councillors have sought to amend it.
We have put forward amendments to help protect the wellbeing of residents, protect our environment and provide high-quality, affordable housing.
What do Greens think?
Greens believe the City Plan does not go far enough.
The plan could have been an opportunity to push for higher environmental and carbon reduction standards and stronger rules on affordable homes. Green Councillors have submitted 33 sound amendments to the plan. Some our submitted amendments were seen as 'unsound' and cannot be debated at the meeting.
While we are pleased to see some improvements have been made, we are disappointed that requests for more extensive ecological studies and 100% genuinely affordable housing on urban fringe sites will not be taken forward.
However, even with our concerns, the greater risk to our city and environment is totally uncontrolled development under the government’s National Planning Policy Framework. It could see more green spaces under attack and even less affordable housing being built.
Our 33 amendments to the city plan at this final stage are based on protecting people and planet.
We submitted proposals that asked for 100% affordable housing if built on greenfield sites. (Will not be debated)
We also aimed to expand the amount of housing on brownfield sites, to protect our green spaces. (Will not be debated)
Our proposals would introduce new carbon-reduction initiatives, and demands that developers improve their energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, with a requirement that all developers produce and publish a clear ‘energy statement. (Will be debated)
We asked for car-free residential developments to be supported and encouraged. (Will be debated)
We have also pushed for a focus on supporting zero exhaust emission transport, not just ‘low emission,’ transport, and a commitment that developers will not only improve existing cycle networks, but actively extend them. (Will be debated)
We think developers must first and foremost avoid any loss of biodiversity when developing their housing sites, with ‘mitigation’ only viewed as a second option, and off-site mitigation as the last resort. (Will be debated)
National planning policy
Our plans have been limited by the Tory Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Green Councillors have consistently criticised national planning law, labelling the NPPF a Conservative Government ‘developer’s charter'. It forces councils to grant permission to developments, regardless of their suitability or affordability, in order to meet strict national targets for housing development.
Three years ago these same planning rules were explored in a report from Shelter, with the report concluding that attempts to protect developer profit, such as viability assessments, contributed to 79% fewer affordable homes being built.
We have been told we cannot introduce tougher policy for our city than the national planning rules allow.
The council is required to set a housing target and it is important to note that allowing no more housing to be built in the city is not an option. To meet the targets set out in the NPPF, there are some "urban fringe" sites included in the City Plan. This sadly means that Government rules are forcing development on our beautiful green spaces.
Not all of our amendments were accepted. This is due to the restrictions of the NPPF. Amendments that were rejected or 'unsound' will not be debated on Thursday.
Green amendments that were accepted for debate will ensure stronger environmental safeguards for development in the city:
- stricter environmental guidance
- better building standards
- higher energy efficiency standards
- new air quality measures
- new requirements that developers improve access to sustainable, low-carbon transport and reduce carbon emissions.
- protect rights of way
- ask developers to not just improve or contribute to cycle routes but also to extend them
- introduce car-free developments
Green amendments that were ruled incompatible with national planning rules were to:
- introduce requirements such as 100% affordable housing on any 'urban fringe' land
- enforce stricter environmental conditions and ecology studies on ‘urban fringe’ land.
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