BUDD NEWS
The newsletter for Brighton Urban Design and Development - November 1999
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BUDD was formed in 1997 to oppose plans for a Sainsbury's superstore and car park on the Station Site. It aims to stimulate, encourage and initiate sustainable urban design and development through an inclusive participatory process, to combat social exclusion and to generate schemes that integrate social, cultural and environmental benefits to Brighton and Hove.

This newsletter covers events and decisions arising from events and meetings in October. If you are concerned about anything that has happened please contact us or come to the next meeting.

Community Planning Event Special

If you were one of the 500 or so participants in the Community Planning Event, congratulations - you showed not only that you care about what happens to the Station Site but also that you really know what you are talking about.

• NEWS IN BRIEF •

BUDD public meeting
Held on Oct. 7th before the planning event, the meeting included a presentation by Jenny Bates (Greenwich FoE) and a sneak preview of the new Sainsbury's plan.

The Planning Event
BUDD's thoughts and concerns about the event.

Report-back session
BUDD raises questions about how the Council uses the findings of the event.

BUDD gets funding
BUDD has received funding from the Council to register as an Industrial and Provident Society.

 

• STOP PRESS •

Sainsbury’s developing new plans for the site – still!
REMEMBER
BUDD meets every Thursday at 7.00pm at 19 Elm Grove.
BUDD contact numbers:
Sara Bragg - 681166
Ben Messer - 720314
Keith Taylor - 389279

BUDD public meeting, Oct. 7th - Sainsbury's shoot themselves in the foot

The meeting, attended by more than 50 people (and many new faces), aimed to raise awareness about the Community Planning Event.

Earlier in the day a jumbled fax arrived from URBED showing the plans of the New England Consortium for a Sainsbury's store-led development. All those present condemned this as an attempt to pre-empt the planning event and force the focus away from the creation of a new Planning Brief. In so doing they inadvertently fired up in everyone present a sense of urgency about the importance of getting the Planning Brief right.

This was added to by the superb presentation from Jenny Bates from Greenwich Friends of the Earth. She poured scorn on claims that the new Greenwich Millennium Village Sainsbury's is "the world's most environmentally responsible store". It provides access to 1,150 car parking spaces, still flies in produce from the other side of the world and its much-vaunted wind and solar power generators are used to.... wait for it....power the lights in the Sainsbury's sign at night.... and nothing more! Nuff said.

Many thanks to Jenny for coming to Brighton and giving an extremely informative and motivating presentation.

 

The Community Planning Event, 8th - 10th October

Observations:

• Almost 500 people attended at some point over the weekend – although Seven Dials Councillors including Council Leader Lynette Gwyn-Jones didn’t put in an appearance.

• 18 workshops took place in which about 160 people participated.

• So far the organisers have received over 300 comments sheets.

• Much time and effort was put into displays by local groups including:

BUDD and The Brighton Society (joint display): The Prestonville Community Association: The North Laine Community Association: The London Road Traders’ Association.

• RH Partnerships and the Bioregional Development Group provided excellent concept displays .

• Representatives of URBED defended the new Sainsbury's plan and their involvement in the New England Consortium in a way that many found dismissive and patronising. They appear to have forgotten their own arguments for seeking collaborative working between professionals and communities and the need to avoid foisting projects on local people.

• It was clear that local people's concerns about a large food store were well founded and difficult to dismiss simply as a knee-jerk reaction.

• Local people grasped the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability better than the experts expected. What became obvious was the advantage local people had in understanding the area and the potential impact of development on the London Rd. and traffic in particular.

If you are interested in adding your comments to those gathered at the Planning Event BUDD has some comments sheets and there are others available at the Public Library (now at the Vantage Point, New England Street). Call us for more information.

The Community Planning Event continued...

BUDD sees the event as a step in the right direction but one from which lessons must be learnt. It was poorly publicised with money wasted on posters providing little pertinent information and no use made of the local media (papers or radio) in the week before the event.

BUDD had previously questioned the experience of the consultants, Drivers Jonas and Colin Buchanan, in community participation and our doubts were confirmed during the event. They showed themselves to be poor workshop facilitators asking leading questions with inadequate explanation of their importance and excluding some people by using workshop groups that were too large.

There was very little continuity between sessions leading to the feeling that a momentum was never allowed to build up over the weekend. Many people felt that we were being given a taste of participation only to have it snatched back once again before anything really important could develop.

The Report-back session

If we, as local people, want to ensure the outcome of the planning event forms the basis of the new planning brief it appears that we will have to do it ourselves. The consultants made it clear that having handed their report to the Council officers and the executive councillor John Ballance, their work is done. Far from continuing to facilitate the on-going participation of local people in the decisions that are made they will leave it up to the Council. The Council's apparent readiness to accommodate Sainsbury's in development of the station site, against the wishes of local people, obviously raises concerns. We must continue to call for involvement in the process and ensure that the planning event is not simply used as a window-dressing exercise. The consultants will, apparently, recommend that a working group or task force, which includes representatives of local people and other stakeholders, should be established. We must ensure that this happens sooner rather than later and that participants in this working group are properly chosen to represent the voice of local people. Graeme Tulley of Drivers Jonas stated that he felt that Sainsbury's and their consortium partners (other than the landowners Railtrack) should not be considered as 'stakeholders' and therefore not be included in the working group. Sounds sensible.

So what happens next?

The consultants will write a report on the findings of the planning event to which participants in the event will not officially have access. This is sent, along with Council Officers summary and recommendations, to executive councillor John Ballance. When this happens is unclear. What then happens is up to John Ballance!

We need to ensure that any new application for development of the station site is judged against criteria laid down in the new planning brief. We need to put pressure on the Council, by writing to Executive Councillor John Ballance, asking him to:

• establish a robust new planning brief based on the outcomes and findings of the community planning event

• stop allowing Sainsbury's and their development partners to bias the planning and development process

• establish the proposed working group/task force to show local people that their voice is not only heard but acted upon

BUDD is keen to build on the momentum of the planning event. If you can offer any advice, provide any assistance or know of anyone who may be interested in supporting BUDD please contact Sara, Ben or Keith (see numbers overleaf).

A vote of confidence in BUDD's approach

The participants at the planning event represented many different communities from the local area and a wide range of interests. Yet, common themes and principles emerged from the workshops and comments.

Common themes from the planning event

• Development of the Station Site should aim to benefit local people, the local economy and meet local housing, employment, retail and leisure needs.

• Development should be founded on principles of sustainability incorporating environmental, social and economic dimensions of this concept.

• Detailed and exacting standards for emissions, energy efficiency and environmental impact must be set in the planning brief.

• Development should be innovative, at the cutting edge of urban development and design.

• Development should improve accessibility and pedestrian linkages between the Seven Dials the London Road and the North Laine.

• NO SUPERSTORE. Development should not include a large food retail outlet.

• Any retail component should enhance rather than detract from existing retailing on the London Road and North Laine and contribute to an overall strategy for regeneration of the London Road area.

• Development should be based on a fully integrated mixture of uses and tenures building on the example of diversity in the North Laine.

• Piece-meal or incremental development should be properly considered.

• Traffic should be reduced in the immediate area if not excluded (a car free development).

• A continued participatory planning process should be employed

Peoples' concerns and aspirations effectively endorse BUDD's approach and the concept that has developed over the past two and a half years.

BUDD can no longer be dismissed as a vocal minority based solely on opposing a superstore.

BUDD gains recognition

A further boost to BUDD's credibility came recently when the Council Small Grants Committee awarded us a grant to register as an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) for the benefit of the community. In recommending our application Council officers described BUDD as having had "a significant impact on planning issues by providing a process for disparate communities of interest to develop their views and become involved in the planning and decision-making process".

Many thanks to Tub Collins for all his hard work on the application. More on this in our next newsletter.

BUDD SOCIAL: pre-millennium knees-up, Sunday 19th December, 8-11pm, at the Pub With No Name, Southover Street – see enclosed flier, and come!

• STOP PRESS •

18/11/99BUDD has just heard that Sainsbury’s have deferred for three months their High Court appeal against the Planning Inspector’s rejection of their original application. The reason? – to ‘enable alternative development proposals to be progressed with the Council’!! The wolf is still at the door…

The future of the station site is in your hands - don't let go!

 

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