Skip to content

Toads Hole Valley – Down the Plughole?

September 27, 2012

Toads Hole Valley…down the  plughole?

By Dave Bangs September  2012

Co-leader Brighton and  Hove Community Wildlife Groups National Park Campaign  2002-4

Co-leader Brighton and  Hove Defen

A  decade ago local residents and countryside activists – including Green Party activists – campaigned for the inclusion of Toads Hole Valley and the rest of the Brighton downland fringe in a new National Park of the South  Downs.

–         Aided by Green Party councillor Pete West,  a coalition of all the Green and Tory Party councillors, plus two pro-downland  Labour councillors, won the full Council vote to  recommend an inclusive boundary to the National Park right up to the edge of the built-up area, taking in Toads Hole Valley, Whitehawk Hill, Sheepcote Valley and much more…

–         Later, the National Park Public Inquiry Inspector included Toads Hole Valley in his  recommended Park boundary, submitted to the secretary of state.

We  thought we had succeeded[1]…and so we should have…for the case was  open-and-shut…

–         Toads Hole Valley is a ‘pinch point’ on the long chain of the  South Downs…almost the narrowest point on the whole open downland  chain…which is here reduced to a mere 2.6 miles wide. It is the point at which the integrity of the down landscape is most threatened.

–         Toads Hole Valley is thoroughly inter-visible with the rest of the open 1.5 mile West Blatchington Valley (of which it is a part) all the way up to the  Dyke Golf Course. Development at Toads Hole will bring serious visual damage to  the wider National Park downs at the point where they are most  vulnerable.

–         The A27 bypass – remarkably – does NOT  onstitute a major visual intrusion to this downland valley…and the whole downland valley is protected from the  visual intrusion of the built up area by the spur of Snakey Hill (King George V1 Avenue).

–         Toads Hole Valley had long been judged as of National Park quality, because it was part of the Sussex Downs AONB (Area of  Outstanding Natural Beauty) in which landscape standards are the same as National Parks.

HOWEVER, a second National Park Public Inquiry to re-address boundary  issues (chiefly in the western Weald) reversed the decision to include Toads  Hole Valley.

NOW the Valley landowners and Green Party developmentalist councillors are having a field day

Their mad plans make NO MENTION that Toads Hole Valley was judged to be of National Park  standard and is a critical part of that wider, inter-visible National Park  landscape.

–         The plans cram built development all up  the most highly inter-visible parts of the valley…on the higher ground of the Snakey Hill spur and up by  Court Farm.

–         They put new green space (in the school  grounds and next to the SNCI slope) down in the most sheltered (visually and  aurally) part of the valley…the reverse of any rational policy of amelioration of the wider landscape damage…which would keep all the higher ground open.

–         They cram a major road along the bottom of the Toads Hole SNCI slope and shave off its southern tip to accommodate that road – and shove in a mess of cycle ways, zig-zag paths, and a funicular  railway.

–         AND THEY CRAM, CRAM, CRAM  !!!…700 houses, an industrial estate, a  school, a community hub, and an even longer version of the busy Snakey Hill  road.

Why all this madness ?…What is the wider context ?

–         A hyper-developing south eastern region, where the best rural landscapes and the greatest national biodiversity are threatened with destruction, PLUS a  low wage economy, PLUS severe  housing stress exacerbated by inter-regional migration of the well-off  in search of pleasure and the poor in search of jobs…WHILST the peripheral regions and poorer countries suffer under-development and  regression.

–         These patterns of uneven development are an inherent feature of capitalism, and bring with them misery and environmental  destruction.

They must be challenged and not pandered  to.

A  sustainable future for both Brighton and the South Downs depends on  redistribution and the strictest environmental protection, NOT developmentalism  and cosmetic environmentalism…

–         60% of this development’s housing is to be not affordable…and most ‘affordable’ housing is not truly affordable.

–         Yet 100% of this development will be environmentally damaging.

–         Over twenty years ago Hove planners  rejected the idea of housing on Old Shoreham Road at the bottom of Benfield  Valley because of the road’s noise and air pollution…NOW the Green Party  proposes housing next to the Brighton Bypass with much greater traffic levels, noise and fumes…

–         Organise the community take-over and  clean-up of the neglected and abused Valley. We first did that nine years  ago…and were praised by the National Park Public Inquiry Inspector for our  efforts.





[1]  …Despite the attempt of senior  Planning Department officers to frustrate our campaign by ignoring their duty to attend the Public Inquiry and argue for the council’s policy. One of these  officers told me afterwards that they had not attended because they did not want to be seen to be arguing  for a reversal of the council’s previous policy…a bit like a senior civil servant refusing to support the policy of a new government because it  contradicts the policy of the old government!

…Despite, too, a worrying incident…When Pete West and myself  organised a tour of the urban fringe for Green Party councillors, to explain the  need for an inclusive National Park boundary, Cllr Bill Randall – on first seeing Toads  Hole Valley – exclaimed that (paraphrase) “this would make an excellent  development site !”

I remonstrated with him that we were showing him one of the most  important sites for the integrity of the new National Park locally…not  fingering sites for downland development.


ACTION FOR ACCESS walking and working for a people’s countryside
 “Downlanders -Action for Access”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2012 5:15 pm

    I have to say that I think development in general in the South-East is just going completely over the top. And the main problem they’re going to have is – how are they going to supply enough water to meet the needs of all the people they’re moving in to the area?! Stupid!

  2. David Botibol permalink
    April 11, 2013 1:27 pm

    Action needed by TOMORROW!

    Followers of this blog might be interested in and might wish to actively support a current action by the Campaign to Save Toad’s Hole Valley.

    The proposals to allow development on Toad’s Hole Valley are in policy DA7 of the Submission City Plan Part 1 for Brighton & Hove which can be found at . There is currently an open consultation on that document. But the consultation closes TOMORROW 12th April.

    The Campaign to Save Toad’s Hole Valley is submitting representations to that consultation in their document
    STHV representations on Policy DA7 – final version.pdf
    which can be found at
    or . I regret the extremely short notice; but the representations document was not finalised until yesterday.

    Would you like to respond to the consultation by submitting your own comment in support of the representations of the Campaign to Save Toad’s Hole Valley? A partially completed pro forma response form can be found at
    or for you to use or pass on if you so wish.

    Are you also able to pass this on urgently to contacts who you believe may be like-minded, please?

    The contact for the Campaign is SAVE Toads-Hole-Valley and I think the Campaign would welcome contact from new supporters.

    David Botibol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: