In the Council meeting at which the wheel was approved, permission was granted only on condition that the lighting plan was also approved. So far, this has not happened, and in fact a proposal which was submitted was so flimsy on detail that it has been rejected.
This is in addition to a number of other oversights and flawed communications. We understand that the Council’s own Design & Conservation team are annoyed that they recommended approval of only an unlit structure and might not have done so had they known the truth. This puts the legality of the planning permission on very shaky ground. We expect the Council may now be getting nervous as the prospect looms of having to cancel permission. The longer they leave it, the greater perhaps is the risk of their being sued by the developers!
But the point remains that right now, as the wheel begins to tower over Kemptown, it has no permission to operate and will prove to be an expensive white elephant — and sadly considerably bigger than a real elephant!
Below is a link to a PDF file from the Council meeting where the application is described as “minor”. The wheel application begins on page 113. Page 116, section 12, includes the condition which shows that the wheel must not start operating until the lighting design has been approved:
Your efforts in raising awareness of the true nature of the wheel development have been rewarded. An email received on the 13th of September by a few local residents, from the Planning Department contains the following:
“As an update, since writing to you yesterday the application to discharge details of the lighting of the wheel and a travel plan required by Conditions 11 and 14 (application BH2011/02133) has been refused for reason that insufficient details had been submitted.”
It appears that the Design and Conservation Team at the council have raised serious reservations about the lighting and the information supplied by the developers was woefully short on detail. Our understanding is that, should Paramount submit a fresh application for lighting, the process would take 2 months before a decision could be made.
This reprieve for us could have a serious effect on the developers beyond the immediate inconvenience. It is more important than ever that we keep up pressure on the council (especially via our councillors) whilst they are unsettled by this setback — so, don’t assume this is the end of the wheel, but in the meantime…
Well done to the local community!
From the letters page of the Brighton Argus, 14th September 2011, we learn that the wheel will breach its planning consent, by being 50 metres tall rather than the approved 45 metres:
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion is not currently responsible for the part of Brighton affected by the wheel (the domain of Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, Simon Kirby).
However, as leader of the Green Party, she is concerned with implementing party policy and new proposed parliamentary seat boundary changes will bring a large part of Kemptown into her constituency. She should therefore be made aware of our concerns about the Wheel, which is a city-wide issue.
An interesting news article, related to the Brighton Pavilion seat:
…which includes the comment:
“MPs WHOSE SEATS ARE UNDER THREAT… Caroline Lucas”.
The essence of this is that the Brighton Pavilion seat is going to be combined with 4 wards from Hove and the Queens Park ward, along with some of Kemptown, if the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for England go ahead.
The following document explains the proposals in detail:
(Page 11, sections 36 and 37 detail the proposed breakup of the Brighton and Hove seats.)
The Brighton Argus newspaper has given coverage to local concerns about the wheel:
Meanwhile, we have prepared an image giving some idea of the way the wheel will affect Madeira Place at night. This is a typical lighting arrangement which will be in place all the way through to midnight, 365 days a year. In addition to this lighting there are also the dozen or so security floodlights which will be on for the queueing area and structure, some of them 24 hours a day.
The Council have rushed through the lighting regulations, going so far as to disable the ability for members of the public to pass comment on its website.
The same kind of wheel at night — one of many lighting patterns it can display
Brighton and Hove Council’s website has information about the alarming lighting proposals. These confirm the wheel will be partially lit 24-hours a day, and that varying colours which can form “displays” are part of the design.
They are trying to prevent us from objecting by listing it separately to the original planning.
If you can face it, email or write to Head of Planning Jeanette Walsh:
You could outline objections to (a) the lighting and (b) denial of your democratic right to object.
Full link to the document on the Council’s website:
Above is the link to the official complaints form to Brighton and Hove Council.
It is necessary to use this and receive a response before making any complaint to the Local Govt Ombudsman regarding maladministration. Please do not forget to mention the following points (as well as any of your own) :
- There was insufficient consultation with the local residents or local businesses.
- Because of the problems encountered with residents and businesses at previously planned sites, neither developers nor council consulted with the local community. They then enlisted the support of those who had rejected the development – e.g. The Metropole Hotel and Save Hove – to claim that business and residents were in favour of the new site.
- The Planning Application meeting was chaired by Linda Hyde, who showed extreme bias. This was not minuted. However, it is recorded in the council podcast. This indicates predetermination.
- The Planning officers failed to notice that there was no application for a Highways licence at planning stage. This prejudiced the hearing as the issue was not discussed.
- Lighting on this project is a key issue and it was not discussed yet the development was granted permission. This indicates predetermination.
- There was no economic impact survey.
- The committee did not give due weight to the Council’s own report on the negative impact on the vicinity, most notably, Madeira Place.
- The Council ignored objections from conservation groups, notably The Regency Society, The Open Spaces Society and The Kingscliffe Society. They did not give sufficient time to English Heritage to carry out a full assessment and ignored that organisation’s recommendations.
- Don’t forget to mention that the council sent out letters telling us that the Highways Panel would be discussing The Brighton “O” and not The Brighton Wheel, thereby indicating that they had reverted to the original design (and making some people think it was the original site in front of The Metropole). We asked for a postponement because of this but it was refused.
— Peter Benedict
Today (Thursday 25th August) the Council’s panel decided to grant a licence to construct the wheel on the public highway.
In spite of the protests from objectors that they had been given insufficient time to prepare for this meeting, all applications for a deferment were rejected.
The discussion then went on for some time, with many of the public’s objections being disregarded because they were not deemed relevant to the highway issue — even though the objectors had arguments to demonstrate that they were.
The applicant and the Council had legal representation, but the objectors had not been given time to secure the same, nor adequate (or indeed almost any) legal advice.
The wheel and its developers still need to comply with various regulations and we understand there is still a decision to be made by the Council regarding the lighting plan, but the highway licence panel was the final publicly accessible meeting in the normal way of things.
Once again, it seems that it was the original planning meeting from April that was the public’s only, insufficiently advertised chance to properly object and be considered. However, because of this perceived lack of a fair hearing, members of the public are planning further levels of appeal against the entire process which – including today’s hearing – have been suggested may fail to meet various legal considerations under European Community laws.
You can follow up this story in the Brighton Argus newspaper.
The final opportunity for formal representations to the Council – prior to the forthcoming processes of appeals and lawsuits – comes tomorrow, Thursday 25th August, at 10 a.m. at Brighton Town Hall.
The initial planners appear to have almost overlooked the fact that the wheel will, exceptionally for construction in Brighton, obscure part of a public highway.
We understand that this cannot procede without an appropriate license. The hearing regarding this is at the time mentioned above.
Please come along to voice your concerns.
TRIUMPHANT meeting tonight. Such a large turnout that people had to sit/stand in the corridor. Very smooth PR man for the developers held his nerve as the entire crowd (apart from his plant and a rep from a hotel association that represents the Metropole) vented their rage. The highlight for me was the lady whose grey hairs didn’t inhibit her from suddenly standing and saying calmly to the PR man “I’m leaving now in protest at your bullshit”. Spontaneous and sustained applause.
— Peter Benedict, via Facebook