Residents Take Fight For Nature Reserve To Town Hall

Council Meeting 6th Dec

Residents gathered outside Hove Town Hall on Thurs afternoon to oppose plans to sell a chunk of their local nature reserve to developers.

The Threat

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, which is responsible for the planned sale, met and local residents were there to resist the sale of the nature reserve land.

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.

Hove Town Hall

The Committee Meeting

Despite the council's secrecy, it appears plans for the sale were given the go ahead by the "Policy, Resources and Growth" committee on the 11th Oct. However, the committee meets again on the 6th Dec and there is an outstanding secret amendment to the sale needing a decision. The council plans to sell the land to a joint venture it is setting up with the Hyde Group, and then reinvest the proceeds of the sale in the joint venture. If the land is sold, it will take a long campaign of attrition fighting planning applications, appeals, judicial reviews etc. to stop the development. Now is the time to act!

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.