Revealed: Secret plans to squeeze hundreds of homes on green land between two Brighton villages (From The Argus)
Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Revealed: Secret plans to squeeze hundreds of homes on green land between two Brighton villages
After Brighton and Hove's housing plans were thrown out by the Government and the council was ordered to allow building on green spaces - chief reporter Emily Walker looks at the secret proposal to bring a huge housing estate to the edge of the South Downs National Park.
Developers could be planning on building up to 315 homes bordering the South Downs National Park, squeezed between Ovingdean and Woodingdean.
Residents have been invited to see the plans for the proposed development which would fill the green gap between the two villages next month (March 11).
Developers Lightwood Property have drawn up five different proposals which could see between 140 and 315 houses build on the site.
A spokesman for the company refused to reveal exactly what they are planning and said the precise proposal would only be revealed at a series of public meetings next month.
However, detailed documents on the company's website list extensive plans for their various options - including suggestions of building on the playing fields of Longhill High School and constructing up to 300 homes.
The site of the potential new housing estate lies between The Vale at the northern edge of Ovingdean and Cowley Drive at the southern side of Woodingdean - effectively joining the two areas.
James Sorrentino director of Lightwood Strategic said: “Lightwood Strategic is looking to deliver a high quality, housing development at Meadow Vale, Ovingdean Road.
“Before we submit a planning application, we are keen to consult with the local community on our plans and will be holding public exhibitions on March 11 and 12 at Longhill High School.
“We are really keen to speak to local residents and hear their views on our plans. Following the exhibition we will review our proposals before submitting an application to Brighton and Hove City Council.”
Residents on both sides have expressed concern at the proposal to build homes on green land - on the cusp of the South Downs National Park.
The area in question was inside the South Downs National Park until the boundary was changed in 2009.
Local residents said they had understood that the land could not be built on for 15 years as a condition of the boundary change.
Some people living in The Vale and Ovingdean Road have been sent letters from the developers telling them about the meetings - however many neighbours said they had not been told anything about it.
Sue Ancell, chairwoman of the residents association, who lives in The Vale said: “All we know is that they are proposing something.
“They are saying they are going to make it very green - but this area is already very green.
“There are just 21 houses along here, but the whole of Ovingdean would be affected.
“There isn't the infrastructure for this many homes - where are all the children from all these families going to go to school?
"We just don't want it.”
Another Ovingdean resident Jonathon La Roux said: “I live on the back of this field and they are planning a major development.
“I am against it and the natural environment. It is terrible for this area.”
Ward councillor Mary Mears said she had only just been told that there was a development planned for the area and had no idea of the extent of the proposal yet.
She said: “I would be very sceptical of a large scale development. It doesn't seem the developers have been in discussion with the council planning officers so far.
“I have been invited to a private viewing of the plans on March 11 but that is the first I heard. This has come out of the blue.
“Once I have seen the full plans I will make my position very clear, but initially I am concerned “Brighton and Hove has 18,000 people on the housing waiting list but even if you cleared that whole waiting list there would be more people wanting to live here.
“People want to move here, so we will never ever have enough housing.”
The developers have not yet submitted a formal planning application to Brighton and Hove City Council - but the proposals have been drawn up based on the City Plan to increase the number of houses.
Brighton and Hove was criticised by Government inspectors and order to find room for more housing in December.
Brighton and Hove City Council spent two years drawing up the City Plan which aimed to create 11,300 homes - thousands below the expected demand of 20,000 houses.
But Government inspector Laura Graham sent the council's plan back in December, demanding more space was found - creating a potential threat to fields at Ovingdean as well as Mile Oak, Coldean and Hollingbury.
Lightwood Property conclude in their proposals on their website: “The local authority are unable to demonstrate a five year land supply and are unprepared to defend against inappropriate sites coming forward under the National Planning Policy Framework guidelines.
“Meadow Vale offers significant opportunity in the form of multiple options to deliver a mix of family housing without impacting on the South Downs National Park.”
Simon Kirby, MP for Ovingdean and Woodingdean, urged his constituents to attend the public meetings on March 11 and 12.
Mr Kirby said: “Immediately I have a number of serious concerns about these plans and I will therefore be studying the information very carefully.
“I hope residents will use this opportunity to make their views known and, when the time comes, to make further representations to Brighton and Hove City Council.
“Ovingdean and Woodingdean are long-standing villages with their own unique characters and history.
“Residents will be naturally concerned if these proposals may change that and, alongside local councillors, I will be sure to work closely with residents on this matter.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said he could not comment on proposals before they were filed to the authority.
What do Ovingdean and Woodingdean residents think?
Helen Trundle, of The Vale, Ovingdean said: “We moved to this house to have the countryside aspect.
“It certainly came out of the blue. We hadn't heard anything before. It was a surprise.
“There have been a lot of emails and everybody is opposed to it.”
Joan Telfer of The Vale said: “It is way too big. It is a real aberration. It will become like a new town.
“The worry is the traffic as everything has to go through Rottingdean which is very small. There is enough with the school.
“It will be too much for the area.”
Mo Carter, 54, qualified nurse, of The Vale: “I am devastated as we have this beautiful view and we would lose it all.
“I have spoken to our neighbours and we are all really opposed. And where are they going to put the horses?
“Our house is up for sale and this is going to devalue the property but the biggest worry is the traffic.
“All the cars coming through here the increase would be tremendous.”
Ken Abell, 48, retired driving instructor, Cowley Drive resident: “I would be opposed to it. I haven't heard anything about it. I'd have thought a lot of people would be against it.
“I used to live in Newhaven and it was too busy so I moved here for the peace and quiet. That would go if this happened.
"Where is the access road going to be?”
Lyn Satinet, housewife, of Cowley Drive, said: “I would fight tooth and nail against it. We also have problems with subsidence from the hill so this would only make it worse.
“I think it's disgusting they want to build on the land.”