Through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Neighbourhood Planning Programme led by Locality, AECOM was commissioned in June this year to provide design support to the Hove Park Neighbourhood Forum.

The Forum requested professional advice on design guidelines for any potential building modification or infill development within the Hove Park Ward area.

One of the reasons we did this was because we had no faith at all in the ability of the Brighton & Hove’s planning department to make the right decisions for Hove Park. The authority is well known for fudging difficult decisions!

The main objective of the design code is to develop design guidelines that any building modification or potential development in Hove Park Ward should follow in order to retain and protect the historic and residential character of the area. The report also addresses streetscape improvement, pedestrian and cycling safety, and sustainability strategies.

One of the reasons the Hove Park Neighbourhood Forum objects to two applications going before the planning committee on 16 September is because of bad design, and another planning fudge: the two applications for the same building on two adjacent sites are assessed separately i.e. each design pays no regard to the twin other and therefore the impact assessed is a work of fiction.

It is also of course plain lazy to replace two different adjacent family homes with two distinctive styles with the same building. This is a gross failure of architecture, and the architects. It’s also a failure of planning as the committee papers come with the absurd recommendation to grant permission for both applications

Here are the two buildings. You can judge for yourselves.

The recently completed Hove Park Neighbourhood Forum Housing Needs Assessment, also completed by Aecom, and approved by Locality in July 2020, noted that dwelling mix in Hove Park must continue to be determined by life-stage modelling. In this modelling, Hove Park plays an important role in the wider market in the city – since the city centre is dominated by smaller homes, the Hove Park Neighbourhood Area provides an option for those looking for larger homes.

The planners are unwittingly taking this option away.

Earlier this month, the planning committee at Brighton and Hove demolished this important role because some councillors believed that the days of houses with large green gardens in cities are gone. That’s the COVID ‘space premium’ shown the door in a city that is the greatest pretender for everything that is green.

Residents can of course fight back where officers choose to ignore a neighbourhood forum attempting to stand on its own feet. What residents then discover is that it costs £1,500 – £2,000 to get a barrister to assess a planning case against the council, with a further £1,500 needed to get the PAP letter issued.

It does not end there. To then get proceedings issued against the council, there are further costs around £2,000. At that point the council could concede or go to court (if it’s court then that’s another £4,000 – £5,000 in barrister fees). Residents who take this route against the council can only expect to get back 60-80% if they win the case.

The planners, the officers, the council’s legal team and the councillors on the planning committee know this.

This is why we need the Planning White Paper that officers have already briefed negatively against.

The paper rightly says that planning has lost public trust, with only 7% trusting their local council to make decisions that will be good for their local area. Recent officer recommendations in Hove Park are why even I am losing trust in Brighton and Hove’s planners.