Sussex Wildlife Trust And CPRE Sussex Support Whitehawk Hill

Supporters

The Sussex Wildlife Trust and CPRE Sussex have written to Brighton & Hove Council urging them to halt the "dangerous plans" to build on the nature reserve.

See below for full letter:

Whitehawk Hill Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

The Sussex Wildlife Trust and CPRE Sussex are writing to you , the Council Leader and Chair of the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee and to the Chair of the Economic Development & Culture Committee, to urge you to do whatever you can to halt the Council’s dangerous plans to develop housing on Whitehawk Hill Local Nature Reserve.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s (BHCC) own website recognises that Whitehawk Hill is an ancient habitat of huge value to the local community, but this seems to have had little impact on the decisions of the Homes for Brighton & Hove partnership.

Whitehawk Hill LNR links the city with the South Downs National Park and acts as a green lung, delivering services that we all rely on, including filtering our drinking water, absorbing carbon, feeding our pollinators and providing a much loved recreational space. The Sussex Wildlife Trust and CPRE Sussex completely accept the need for affordable housing, especially in an area with such a high disparity between wages and living costs, but this should not be at the expense of one of the City’s most valuable wild spaces. It is completely unacceptable to develop it.

Large amounts of research demonstrate how valuable access to nature is in terms of health and wellbeing. However at time of high levels of obesity and poor mental health, BHCC are showing little regard for the recreational value of Whitehawk Hill LNR to local residents.

The City Plan Part 1 is clear that BHCC wants to ensure that the city’s natural environment is protected and enhanced, with the vision stating that ‘The downland countryside will be conserved and its links to urban green spaces strengthened via a green network across the city where biodiversity is enhanced and equality of access to natural open space is achieved’. Similarly Policy CP10 requires BHCC to link and repair habitats and nature conservation sites within the South Downs Way Ahead NIA, whilst conserving, restoring, recreating and managing priority habitats. Developing on Whitehawk Hill LNR is contrary to these requirements and conflicts with the three objectives of the Living Coast Biosphere, of which BHCC is a lead partner.

We remind you that BHCC have a duty under the NERC Act 2006 to have regard for biodiversity and in particular priority habitat, such as lowland calcareous grassland. This duty is further supported by the requirements of paragraph 174 of the National Planning Policy Framework. To push ahead with this proposal goes directly against the principles of sustainable development and the Council’s desire to provide strong civic leadership for the wellbeing and aspiration of Brighton & Hove.

The need to act now and stop this scheme from going any further is imperative. The proposal to build five tower blocks on a designated site sets a dangerous precedent of damage and degradation of the City’s ecological network, against a background of alarming declines in biodiversity. We must all recognise our responsibility to stop and reverse this loss of biodiversity and the need to protect all those places which still retain reservoirs of wild nature and deliver the essential environmental benefits we all rely on.

We ask you to recognise your responsibilities and act now to ensure that this important site is not destroyed.