Few things bring communities together like news of major development in their neighbourhood. It’s really understandable though because development can mean change and that really unsettles people.
But we live in a city that needs new homes so that our children have a hope of staying here when they leave education and look for work, so development will be happening. That means we need to get it right.
Soon the King Alfred consultation will go live and will last for many months so everyone can engage with that. Hyde, a developer that has done many brilliant buildings locally and has a great record or partnering with communities, got it spectacularly wrong with the ‘Sackville Tower’. In that case a ferocious and energised community defeated the plans which have gone back to the drawing board and everyone concerned, including me, learned a lot from the experience. Other developments, like the proposed Conway Street building, has been much less contentious.
Residents in Mile Oak noticed that our City Plan, which details the development proposals for Brighton and Hove, included a new housing estate in their community. Immediately residents became concerned and I was asked to come and meet a few of them.
It tells you everything you need to know about people’s reaction to development that when I turned up at the Mile Oak library it was totally jam packed with people. It was a fantastic meeting, really vigorous with residents showing passion and a touch of anger about the potential impact of development on their community.
Luckily the plans for development are at the very earliest stages. This means there is plenty of scope for engagement, discussion, and influence. The community have come together and I’m doing what I’m told to as part of the group, using the resources I have, so we can all make sure that development is sensitive and takes into account local concerns about parking, water runoff, and community cohesion. We also want to make sure that developers invest into the broader community – hopefully into the Mile Oak Rec which is an obsession of mine!
Today Cllr Peter Atkinson and I spent the morning with residents delivering hundreds of leaflets asking what their main concerns were so we can shape how the development unfolds together. The people I’ve been campaigning with aren’t ‘political’ in the traditional sense, but really this is what politics is all about to me – communities coming together to make things better, both us and future generations too.
So thanks to Peter and his two fantastic daughters Aimee and Freya who zipped around the estate like professional athletes!
Please let me know what concerns you most about development if you live in Mile Oak or other parts of the constituency, it really helps me when I talk to developers. All the best, Peter