Green edges of Brighton and Hove are under increasing threat of development after the Government ordered a re-think about house building in the city.

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.

Government inspector Laura Graham has sent the council’s plan, which falls “well short”, back to Hove Town Hall demanding more space is found.

Land which could now be under threat includes fields at Mile Oak, Ovingdean, Coldean and Hollingbury.

For years Brighton and Hove City Council has ruled out developing about 50 suburban plots, instead preserving them as open spaces for recreation.

The only urban fringe site allocated for development, and included in the target, was Toads Hole Valley in Hove, which could hold 700 homes, offices and a school.

The council accepted it would have to accommodate an extra 100 to 200 homes on the urban fringe in October.

In May the government’s senior planning inspector, Roland Punshon, criticised the city council’s housing strategy and called a meeting to tell officials to “go downevery rabbit hole” in the city to find land.

Now Ms Graham has insisted the ‘urban fringe’ around the city can accommodate more houses and ordered no stone is left unturned.

In a letter sent to the council on Friday Ms Graham said, despite the council’s attempts to get some areas protected Local Green Space status, she doubted they would meet the requirements.

She said building on some fields, not currently making a “significant contribution”, would create “good quality public open space, as part of a package of development”.

Ms Graham added the “overall impression” was the council had not looked seriously at some sites because of the “desire to resist development” and a “more rigorous analysis of the urban fringe sites” could find more potential space for homes.

The council said will look hard at housing potential in the urban fringe around the city and send a response to the inspector in January.

Councillor Phélim MacCafferty chairmanof planning at the council said: “We are committed to the review but our research so far suggests that only a handful of the urban fringe sites have real potential to deliver housing.

“Most of the urban fringe contains parks, allotments, cemeteries and sports pitches and some is contaminated land.”

Tony Mernagh, executive director at the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “The Economic Partnership has been one of the parties in the city pushing for more housing, but it has some sympathy with the planning officers tasked to sort out this conundrum.

“They not only have to satisfy the demands of the inspector but also their political masters in a council with no majority control.

“Trying to get political consensus on the urban fringe and the Marina some 17 months before local elections will be a Herculean task.”