DOZENS of residents protested against a housing development proposed for the edge of the South Downs National Park.
Residents from Woodingdean, Ovingdean and Rottingdean gathered outside Brighton Town Hall in Bartholomew Square yesterday ahead of a full council meeting where the proposals, and recent changes to planning powers, were discussed.
The Deans Preservation Group has been campaigning for months against the proposals for more than 100 homes.
Last night they campaigned under the banner ‘Save our Deans’ before presenting a petition to the city council signed by more than 1,600 people.
If approved the plans would see homes built on a 9.6-acre greenfield site.
Speaking against the proposals, Paul Redfern, from the Save Our Deans campaign, said: “The message here is to pre-empt what’s happening and to show the strength of opposition across the three villages to these proposals.”
Campaigner Joan Telfer said: “The point of this is to stop lovely green fields in a rural community turning into a suburb which will make three communities into one town.”
At the meeting yesterday, councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty said Government changes forced councils to act with the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and had taken away the opportunity for local people to shape the development of the city.
He added: “The cornerstone of the planning system has been that decisions are taken locally by councillors accountable to local people, and with the input of residents.
“However the Tories’ deregulation of planning means that residents are being cut out of the process, protections for the environment are being reduced and we’re getting development by stealth.
“The Government’s insistence that every piece of land should be up for grabs is a cause for huge concern for us as councillors as much as it is for our communities.”
During the rally Conservative MP Simon Kirby publicly offered to assist Green group leader Jason Kitcat to come up with a “robust” city plan to help protect communities from developments they don’t want.
But Labour’s parliamentary candidate Nancy Platts said it was Mr Kirby’s Government that had created the situation in the first place and called on him to work to have the policy reversed.
Council leader Jason Kitcat said councillors and officers would consider the application carefully when it goes to council.