Robert Powell’s letter to The Argus – Dec. 19th 2014
Press Release 19th December 2014
Objectors win important victory in the fight to prevent high rise towers in Brighton Marina
On Tuesday 9th December Robert Powell a resident of Marine Gate Brighton won a significant victory in the High Court. Lord Justice Richards gave Mr Powell permission to appeal the earlier judgment of Mrs. Justice Patterson that blocked a Judicial Enquiry into the building of high-rise towers in the Marina
Mr.Powell spearheads a large number of residents of Marine Gate, Kemp Town Estate, Roedean, Brighton Marina, Courcels and Arundel Terrace who collectively are known as the Brighton Marina Action Group.
The Group, a loose collaborative of residents associations and conservation interests, has been seeking for many years to prevent building of high-rise towers in the Marina. The Group’s basic objection is that Brighton Marina was not intended to be a high-rise, high-density housing estate. It does not have the required amenities such as schools and play areas for children. The car parking provision is inadequate for the number of dwellings proposed and the vehicular access is limited to a ramp at the western end.
The judgment by Lord Justice Richards means that for the first time the meaning of the 1968 Brighton Marina Act will be tested in front of three Law Lords early in the New Year. The meaning of key sections of the Act will be scrutinised by the High Court. These sections cover the powers granted by Parliament to the developer to build a marina and the limitations on where the development could take place.
The Brighton Marina Action Group are convinced that the application in 2006 for 11 tower blocks in the Marina including the infamous 40-storey ‘Roaring Forties’ tower could never have received consent if the 1968 Brighton Marina Act had been properly understood at the time.
Mr. Powell explains that, “Brighton and Hove Planners argued that the legality of building towers in the Marina was not a ‘material planning consideration’ and that the 1968 Brighton Marina Act was an entirely separate matter.” Thus planning consent was given. It is the contention of those resisting Brighton and Hove City Council, that The Act of Parliament which authorized the building of the Marina had conditions imposed on future planning not to permit the very developments, which they have currently permitted or are encouraging.
Documents which have been unearthed from records at The Houses of Parliament and National Archive provide sufficient evidence for the Honorable Judges to closely scrutinize the building restrictions set out in the Act and the obligations it sets on planners.
“Also, the importance of the Act and its restrictions,” says Mr. Powell, “were further endorsed it by a letter from the Secretary of State dated 30 May 1975 that states clearly that ‘No building hereby permitted on any of the promontories in the locked basin shall exceed a height of 15metres (49ft.)” This document reflects the commonly held views of a wide segment of local residents.
The various independent people and organisations that form the Brighton Marina Action Group have waged a campaign for a decade and have been constantly frustrated by the BHCC Planning Department’s insistence that the legality of the development falls outside Planning Law. Now for the very first time we have the opportunity to test the legality in the High Court and to question why permission was granted for two towers that are outside the Limits of Deviation in the Act.
Robert Powell is under no misapprehension about the enormity of the task ahead. He said, “To date the legal battle has cost in excess of £45,000. There are more costs to come but if we care about the Marina and the area we live in the means will be found to carry on this battle. The ultimate aim is to have a world-class regeneration that is below the height of the cliffs that conforms with the intended provision of the Brighton Marina Act and that respects the heritage and conservation requirements of the Marina’s neighbours”.