At the January Drara meeting residents expressed concern at the clearance of former Old Railway allotments – the stretch of land sandwiched between the Open House pub and London Road Station. Despite numerous attempts over several decades by local groups to have the area designated as a park and wildlife area, planning permission was granted in 2009, for the development of four two bedroom houses, when BHCCs refusal was overturned by the Planning Inspector.
Many residents were surprised to see the sudden clearance of vegetation in December, as the site has for years provided a green screen, and is home to wildlife. While this isn’t strictly in the Drara area, it is very visible to us, and the issue has been looked into in more detail by our neighbouring resident group, Southdown Rise at their January meeting.
It appears that planning conditions may well have been breached, as orignal wildlife surveys found slow worms on the site. Planning conditions state that the prior to development a survey must be under taken and any slow worms rehomed. While a survey was undertaken, this was done at a time when slow worms are hibernating. The issue has been raised with local councillors Leo Littman and Julie Cattell, and our MP Caroline Lucas who have all made enquiries as to what’s going on. In the meantime, a petition has been set up by Clare Tyler to save the slow worms – for anyone concerned to sign.
Having been discussed for some time a bike share scheme is set to start on our streets this summer. A three year contract has been awarded to Hourbike who run other schemes including Oxford and Reading. Bikes will be available from 50 hubs across the city – and one of those hubs will be at London Road Station. Drara members met with council officers to discuss the best siting for the hub – and were successful in ensuring the proposed site has been moved – from outside homes on the west side of Shaftsbury Place to the north end, outside the station. Prior to installation of the hub a Traffic Regulation Order is required and a planning notice is currently displayed outside the station. Any comments are needed by Feburary 10th.
On Saturday December 3rd and December 10th our neighbourhood on the other side (of London Road Station) is hosting the regular Florence Road Market along with some festive fun. Lots of goodies are promised including live music, live donkeys alongside festive produce from regular stall holders. The market is 10 am until 2 pm – partying is set to continue for the afternoon and is a fundraiser for the homeless night shelter.
Southdown Rise Residents Association invite neighbours to bring friends and family to their community Christmas party on December 3rd. From 2 – 7 pm at One Church Southdown Avenue, there be food, drink, live music and activities for kids.
Residents in Shaftesbury Place and Drara were notified by Brighton and Hove CC in late August of the planned Brighton & Hove Bike Share scheme which is due to launch in May 2017. It is proposed to site a cycle hire docking station on Shaftesbury Place and the council have sought views on this and confirm the final list in ‘autumn’.
The scheme will be similar to public cycle hire schemes operating in other cities for use by residents and visitors, with the docking station or ‘hub’ one of fifty across the city.
At a committee meeting on September 7th Drara discussed the proposal to locate a docking station on the west side of Shaftesbury Place – outside a residential property. We understand that the site chosen would not take up a parking space as there is no parking here currently.
While the committee support the plans for cycle hire, members agreed the proposed site is not fit for purpose for the following reasons:
It would be adjacent to a very narrow stretch of pavement, and therefore obstruct a busy pedestrian route to the station
It would be a commercial enterprise within a few metres of a residential property
The pavement is already obstructed with wheelie bins
As alternatives Drara suggest:
One of the spaces either side of the steps to the station, while we are aware this is not council property it would not obstruct pedestrians and have lower impact on residents or
On Ditchling Rise at the corner of Shaftesbury Road, next to the car share parking spot.
– This is already established as a commercial outlet area for the car share club
– Already established as a cycle park area
– There is plenty of room, possibly with a slight reduction of size for the car club spot
– There are no neighbours to disturb
– The area in front of the pub is already demarked as a shared space for cars and pedestrians crossing for the station and pub, so this will be safe to load/unload bikes
These views have been put to the council and a site meeting requested to review the options.
As summer gets into full swing its time for the annual Drara gathering at London Road Station. Everyone in the neighbourhood is welcome and its a great opportunity to come and meet your neighbours and find out what’s been going on in the area. Tea, coffee, soft drinks and cakes (and any snacks we can make with produce from the station garden) will be available. The station ticket hall, with its terraces overlooking Shaftesbury Place, is a lovely venue on a summer evening.
One of our ward Councillors and now Mayor of Brighton, Pete West, will be addressing the meeting. We’ll be reviewing issues that have come up over the last year, as well as electing officers and committee members to keep the work of the association going. If you’d like to get more involved, get in touch. Also, we’re looking for a new Chair and Secretary so don’t be shy – get in touch if interested and you want to find out more.
We also hope to be hearing from neighbouring community groups, so you can find out more about what’s going on nearby.
Drara congratulate Pete West, Councillor for St Peters and North Laine area for many years, who became Mayor in a ceremony at the town hall on Thursday 12th May. A former resident of Warleigh Road and Shaftesbury Road, Pete is a familiar face at Drara and London Road LAT meetings who has worked hard to support improvements in the area – including hands on help at the Greenway and attending events in the neighbourhood. We wish him and his partner Geraldine and family a successful year – and hope he’ll still be able to fit us into his diary. His year in office has started well as Harvey’s ale was served at the mayoral reception – alongside the more traditional glass of wine.
Our next business meeting is at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 17th May. Join us to catch up on local issues and meet neighbours. Meetings are informal and friendly and reguarly attended by officials, local councillors and Bonny our PCSO. They last no longer than an hour and a bit – so come and say hello. On the agenda are street trees, bike parking and welcome leaflet for new residents with standing items including community safety and planning issues. Another diary darte is the AGM which will be on Friday July 8th.