Summary of findings from AGHAST community survey, July 2023.

In terms of the overall masterplan for use of the site, the majority of correspondents favoured ‘Lower Density Residential Development': 

This option proposes the development of 'a mix of low and medium rise homes for families’ (34%). The close second option (at 29%) in replies was ‘Light Industrial and/or Supermarket: this option involves the potential to keep the current businesses and maxmises the potential of the site’s use for light industry, warehousing or trade counters, retaining the current cap on its foundations i.e. to avoid disturbing contaminants in the underlying soil.’

The overwhelming majority of correspondents were *strongly* against high rise development on the site (45%).

On the Contamination issue the survey revealed a clear mistrust of the developer’s track record and approach – 75% of replies to the question ‘Do you trust the developers to safely decontaminate and develop the site without exposing local residents to toxins contained in the soil?’ were negative, with 51% ‘disagreeing strongly’ with the statement.

Design-wise, more than 60% of correspondents agreed the development should align 'with the nearby Regency seafront buildings that Brighton is famous for'. As is very clear in the recent images released of Berkeley's plans in Peckham, which closely matches our own in terms of footprint and design, this developer is currently simply replicating blocks used across a range of their sites.

A staggering 93% of replies agreed that  'If any development proceeds, is it important for you that the buildings are oriented to avoid creating wind tunnels?’

Social housing on the site was clearly identified as a priority in the Survey, with the majority of correspondents (54%) asking for a requirement that the required 40% ‘affordable’ housing allocation be ‘genuinely affordable’ (set based on 80% local median income) rather than set by market rates.  Provision of social or genuinely affordable housing was identified as the most important feature of any redevelopment of the site (over 44% of replies).

Impacts on local infrastructure were a clear priority and came up in a lot of comments. Specifically on the parking question, nearly 60% of replies stated ‘The development should have at least as many parking spaces (including for electric vehicles) as there are new flats.’  A range of other community amenities including new community accessible spaces, schools and. GP practice were requested in comments.

Selective narrative comments (if you would like to read all of the comments click here):

This developer has a track record of buying cheap contaminated sites and causing environmental damage with over development. Planners should be protecting residents from profit focused development that comes at an environmental cost.

The present application is a complete overdevelopment of the site. It will blight the local architecture. It poses a severe risk to the health and sanity of local residents for the next decade and will adversely affect the vital tourism industry and the safety of sea swimmers from pollution. The complete inadequacy of the parking spaces provided will risk bringing the neighbourhood to a standstill. It is aesthetically ugly and over-dominant in height, bulk and density. It will wreck local architectural heritage assets such as the Kemptown Estates and the beautiful French De Courcel building as well as the several miles of much-loved Regency Sea Front architecture. It offers no benefit whatever to the local community and risks ugly high-rise apartments (aimed at investors) standing empty for many years to come (like many similar ones in the Marina).

Wouldn’t it be great if when development projects in Brighton were initially being created that the first question was ‘what do Brighton residents truly need?’ A question that is so fundamental but always overlooked. Where is our affordable housing? What are we doing to keep families in the city? What is it we are lacking? Because I tell you what, more over priced, unattainable flats for locals to rent is definitely not it! And as a local resident I would like to live a healthy life which has not been polluted by the unnecessary digging up of the gas works! I also long for a day when Brighton Council actually listens to us and our needs are put before that of financial gains....A lot to ask I know, but I can dream!...

London cookie cutter tower blocks are unacceptable.

The increased gentrification of our cities is a problem. TRULY affordable housing if that is the route taken should be top priority. Many of us in Whitehawk are already in council houses paying far too much, building only for the rich displaces everyone else.

No high rise is the highest priority, with high quality materials, appropriate for the area secondary which complement, but are secondary to the adjacent to local conservation area and listed buildings so not to distract from them.

It is unbelievable to me that the developers can suggest such a huge number of flats to be built in such a small area. This is an incredibly windy area of brighton already without the building of huge wind canyons to knock us over. The shadow most of the day plus the loss of privacy to all on the periphery of the sight is very worrying. BUT- my biggest worry is Berkeleys track record of poor contamination procedures creating at this present time, AWFUL problems for residents of Southall and Mitcham, both sites emitting such bad stenchs from remediation that it is actually making locals sick, and there are clinical investigations started into this. Blood tests are being taken to determine exactly what is going on with the local populations health. Without your health you have nothing. I do not want my family and I (nor my neighbours)to be put at risk by removing the cap on this historically contaminated site, digging deep for tower block foundations, plus having contaminated dust falling on a 500 metre radius from the site. A scoping report from a couple of years back admits that this will happen. Wake up developers - people need affordable housing with some outside space, not small flats for developers to let out for Airbnbs.

Whatever happens here this area should be used for local people. Not sold on to those without any interests in East Brighton - ie just there to make an investment and to hell with the pollution and needs of the community.

The site is in an extremely windy location. Any development should not worsen this either for dwellings/businesses on the site or residents already living here. I do not believe the developer's Micro Climate Report(s) take into account the wind tunnel effect specific to this location - and yet their proposed development, through modelling, shows it will worsen the situation. I believe these two factors combined will make some areas in and around the site no-go areas for part of the year i.e. for walking, cycling, gardening, external house maintenance etc. Parking provision is a consideration that needs looking at. The developers propose to build too many dwellings on the site. Over-development for profit, over the health and well-being of residents and workers is what it's looking like. "Take the money and run" leaving behind long term problems for locals to endure if they can't be corrected. Not inclusive. Not community driven. Not caring. Selfish. Reject this proposal and aim for a better long term (healthier) one. Thanks to all who are fighting this over-development on behalf of all who want to live and work a healthy life in a positive environment.

How do you safely develop an old gasworks site?

AGHAST reached out to residents in Mitcham to find out their experience