UP to 100 homes could be built on two allotment sites as the council tries to address a shortfall in housing in Brighton and Hove.

Allotments in Mile Oak Road, Portslade, and Craven Vale on Whitehawk Hill, Brighton, have been identified as possible sites for new homes.

Outlining Brighton and Hove City Council’s vision for the development and growth of the city until 2030, the original City Plan dismissed allotments for residential development.

However, a Government planning inspector said a significant shortfall in new homes needed to be urgently addressed in the plan.

The council commissioned environmental consultants LUC, which identified 39 urban fringe sites on which up to 1,180 homes could be built, including the two allotment sites.

Modifications to the City Plan made by the council in July stated that development would be permitted on sites identified in the LUC study, as long as they considered the downland setting of the city and any adverse impacts of development were minimised, mitigated and/or compensated for.

Both Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth object to the allotments being developed. They hope the sites will be removed from the new City Plan draft, expected to be published on Thursday.

Vic Borrill, director of the food partnership, said: “We do not believe that any housing should be put on allotments.”

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “This is a very difficult and uncomfortable decision councillors are faced with.”

Open spaces Labour Party leader Warren Morgan said: “We have to balance the urgent need for housing with protection for allotments and other open spaces.”

There are 47 people on the waiting list for one of the 84 allotment plots in Mile Oak, which has been identified as a site for up to 50 new homes.

LUC’s report suggested that allotments could move further up Mile Oak Hill, a designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance which is popular with dog walkers.

The 173 plots on the century-old Craven Vale allotment site, part of the Local Nature Reserve on Whitehawk Hill, could have 50 homes built on them. The 31 lost allotments could be moved to an area of steeply sloping woodland to the west.

Simon Powell, 41, co-ordinator of the Whitehawk Community Food Project, said: “This idea that you can just wipe out 100 years of cultivation practices and biodiversity and just start from scratch somewhere else, you can do that, but it’s not an equivalent.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Brighton & Hove’s urban fringe is already subject to a developers’ free-for-all – thanks to the government’s national policies. The only way we will be able to control where and how development happens across the city is by getting the amended local plan agreed by the government.
“Just because an independent study says that housing could be built on land doesn’t mean that the diggers are moving in overnight. This is about housing potential not actual concrete proposals.

"Separate to this, where the council owns land we get much more say over what happens. Should anything come forward, we’ve also committed to replacing allotments like for like. 
“If the government throws out the city plan in its entirety we continue to face the risk of low-quality development on sensitive sites.

"However we have the chance to fight back for affordable housing, balanced development, and protected and accessible green space. For that, we need the protections and ambitions of an agreed city plan.

"That is why an alliance of 20 citywide organisations have come out in support of committee agreeing a sound City Plan later this month.”

An online petition has been launched to save Craven Vale allotments and has been signed by 200 people so far.

View the petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-craven-vale-brighton-allotments.

The Policy and Resources Committee will meet to discuss the City Plan on October 16.