Residents Brave Weather To Beat Bounds Of Ancient Common In Defence Of Whitehawk Hill
Whitehawk Hill Nature Reserve is under threat from property developers and residents are rallying to its defence.
Beating of the Bounds
Residents walked the boundaries of their ancient common, passing its many boundary stones and marks, in defence of the land. 'The Race Ground' common was preserved in 1822 for "the inhabitants of Brighton and the public in general" at the time of the enclosure of the rest of Brighton's vast commons. Beating The Bounds is an old tradition to mark those boundaries. After meeting at the "Four Parishes Stone" at the top Bear Rd we walked down through the reserve, past the site of the proposed development and around up to Whitehawk Hill, with its neolithic causewayed enclosure, before returning past the racecourse to the starting point.
Brighton & Hove Council has plans to sell a large chunk of Whitehawk Hill Nature Reserve to London property developers, splitting the reserve in two and irreparably damaging the wildlife that the reserve is meant to protect. This proposed sale is part of a master plan to sell off large swaths of green space throughout the city to be concreted over. On Thurs 6th Dec the council “Policy, Resources & Growth” committee is meeting to potentially sign off on the sale of the nature reserve land. A demonstration is being organised, gathering at 3:30pm at Hove Town Hall. Details can be found here.
No Social Licence
The community have not been consulted about the plan to sell the land, in violation of the Aarhus Convention which is meant to guarantee the public's right to "participate in environmental decision-making". The nature reserve land was once a common, and a covenant was attached to the deeds when it was enclosed which was supposed to preserve the right of "the public in general, to use and enjoy" the land "for ever thereafter". The council has been holding secret meetings (public and press excluded), for over a year.
The Big Picture
The council has plans to start building on remaining green spaces throughout the city. These plans are being driven by central government, and the "City of London" financial sector. Developments in Brighton are being watched careful (the national Times newspaper is writing articles about the possibility of resistance in Brighton) and if these initial developments are not vigorously opposed wave of destructive development on green spaces across Brighton, and many other part of the country, is likely to follow.