A COUNCILLOR has blasted the Greens for proposing earmarking “the last free greenfield site in Hove” for development.

Instead, Conservative Dawn Barnett is demanding Brighton and Hove City Council buy back the lease to Benfield Valley to “save the area forever”.

The call comes as the council decides on its blueprint for key housing development areas over the next ten years.

“The Greens used to be a party that would lead environmental protests and lay down in front of bulldozers to save trees,” Cllr Barnett said.

“Now, they are in danger of becoming party obsessed with building tower blocks of low-cost flats in the urban fringe – this time at the expense of Benfield Valley.”

City Plan Part Two is the council’s framework for policy decisions and serves, in part, to encourage developers to build in a certain way.

The last time councillors will meet to debate its content will be at a key meeting this afternoon.

Benfield Valley is a wedge of green land that runs from the A27 on the city’s northern boundary down to the Old Shoreham Road.

Cllr Barnett is furious the area is being earmarked for development in the plan, despite more than 2,200 residents signing a petition against it.

She said: “One of the first major battles I fought on behalf of my constituents after being elected a councillor in 2004 was to stop a plan to develop on the green land at Benfield Valley in my ward.”

The Hangleton and Knoll representative said she helped fight proposals over the years including plans for 380 new homes in 2014 and a 800-home “mega-project” in 2017.

She said: “Now in 2020 residents have been called upon to fight again and myself and my ward colleague Nick Lewry are once again taking up the fight on our constituents’ behalf.

“This time the matter is more serious than ever before as the proposal to build on the Benfield Valley land comes not from developers but from the council itself.”

Contained within the City Plan Part Two is a proposal to develop 100 homes in the area.

“It will not end until every urban fringe site in this city has gone,” she said. “So Benfield Valley needs to be the point at which we say ‘no more.”

Cllr Barnett is calling on the Green council to buy back the long-lease and make the land part of the South Downs National Park to “end these perpetual battles”.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Green group has blamed the government’s planning policy framework for the plans.

Green councillor Leo Littman said: “Communities on the outskirts of our city, and their elected representatives, are quite right to campaign to protect our urban fringe sites from rampant overdevelopment. However, it’s important to understand exactly where the danger comes from.

“The government’s 2012 National Planning Policy Framework, (NPPF) created the threat which still faces our green spaces due to the housing targets that it enforces.”

“I do not doubt that locally elected representatives are frustrated by the results of the Government’s ever more developer-led planning regime.

“I therefore urge all councillors to join in the vital task of lobbying for the reform of our national planning laws; and to demand that local planning decisions are taken out of the hands of the Government and their algorithms, and returned to local people and their local representatives.”