Dear Whistler Readers
We are writing to update you on recent developments and seek your help and assistance.
Residents and local groups have arranged for lawyers’ letters (see attachments below) to be sent to the council following the Council’s granting of planning permission for the tall 5/6 storey hotel on the site of the former ice rink in Queen Square, on the southern boundary of St Nicholas churchyard.
For those not already aware, the planning committee was branded by the press as a ‘shambles’ with members confused, the first vote to refuse permission being retaken once campaigners had left, officers misdirecting members during voting and underplaying important information in the officer report and presentation.
The officer report and presentation made no mention the of churchyard being an important local park and relied on the developer’s view that the need to chop back important ancient elms trees was of little significance. All of which sets a very dangerous planning precedent for both future Brighton applications and national planning policy.
This led locals to believe the process was seriously flawed. The council administration are so determined to railroad this development through in their hunger for the substantial sum of money they will get from selling the site with planning permission, serious local objections to the way the Committee handled the application would not be allowed to stand in their way.
Local residents and organisations engaged specialist lawyers who studied the podcast of the meeting and the accompanying minutes and officer reports. The residents’ lawyers concluded the decision was unlawful and detailed their findings in six pages of failures. They formally advised the Council that the first vote to refuse planning permission should be upheld as the only lawful decision the Committee took. Alternatively, the application should sent back to the Planning Committee to be dealt with properly. Their findings cited case law and other council examples.
Sadly, the Council’s officers refuse to accept the wrong-doing and their lawyer merely brushes over many of the failings and unlawful procedures set out in the residents’ lawyers’ letter.
Residents’ lawyers have demonstrated how the Council could and should lawfully refer the application back to the Planning Committee to consider it properly, in an open and transparent manner with all parties and interests being able to have their say.
Only a lack of political will amongst the Council’s Green administration prevents this – their protestations that they cannot intervene are wrong and disingenuous.
We therefore urge all residents to contact your local councillors and the Council Leader Jason Kitcat ( Jason.Kitcat@brighton-hove.gov.uk) to lobby for the return of the hotel application back to the Planning Committee so it can be determined properly as this would be the correct, legitimate, and only lawful and honourable thing to do.
Wykeham Terrace Residents’ Association, Montpelier and Clifton Hill Association and St Nicholas Green Spaces Association