A PLANNING expert has called on city leaders to build on the urban fringe and “push the boundaries” of the National Park in a bid to solve the housing crisis.

Dr Samer Bagaeen, head of the University of Brighton’s planning school, said the current City Plan was not up to scratch and said politicians would have to go back and look at it again.

The expert said: “I think the urban fringe is the key. We don’t have the space in the city. The only areas we can build the number of houses we need is on the outskirts.

“There will be those who object, but they are the ones sitting comfortably in their houses sitting back and saying ‘you know what, we’re fine, but you can’t build that there’. It’s not right.”

He was speaking about the future of the city’s housing at the Construction Voice event, run in conjunction with Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, at the Sussex County Cricket Club.

Dr Bagaeen highlighted urban fringe sites around the racecourse, Woodingdean, Rottingdean and Ovingdean, as key for development along with land north of Patcham.

He added: “There will be naysayers but if we don’t do it now then we will have to do it 10 years down the line.

“We also need to look at the National Park and weigh up the needs of the city and the Park. We need to push the boundaries or certainly push against the boundaries of the National Park. It won’t be popular but we have to. People also need to get over this objection of being able to see housing from the National Park. That cannot be something to stop development.”

Appearing on a panel alongside chartered surveyor Simon de Whalley and chartered architect John McLean, he said the local authority’s City Plan, which sets out proposals for 13,200 new homes by 2030, was “half baked”. He said: “They identify sites in the city where we are going to build but I recently visited them and they are not appropriate.

“For example there is a site off Dyke Road Avenue they said could be built on, but it is so steep that many developers probably wouldn’t take it up. Toad’s Hole Valley is the biggest site but other than that there is nothing significant. At this rate we are going to be unable to meet the need for housing.”

To add to the problem, the government’s updated household projections released in February state the city now needs around 30,000 new homes by 2030. He added: “The City Plan is half baked. It needs to be looked at again.”

A council spokeswoman said the City Plan housing target of 13,200 was a “robust figure” which had been to public consultation. She added that the Urban Fringe Assessment Study, carried out last year, weighed the benefits of meeting more of the city’s housing requirements against any adverse impacts of development.