Craven Vale Allotments

A walk up Whitehawk Hill Road behind the Royal Sussex County Hospital quickly reveals unbeatable views across the city. The Palace Pier can suddenly be seen above the roofs of the seafront buildings below, and then Marine Gate, the Marina and so on. Best of all are the views towards the east from Whitehawk Hill itself, said to be the best place in the city to watch low winter sunsets.

Although the area is by no means quiet, it is hardly on the beaten track. Many residents of Brighton & Hove have never heard of the Craven Vale allotments at the top of the hill and fewer have explored them, which is a real shame as they are quite magical – but sadly under threat as a site for housing.

The Craven Vale allotments consist of around 140 individual plots. Their status as statutory allotments (which means that development can only take place with the Secretary of State’s permission), and their location beside both common land and the Whitehawk Hill Camp scheduled ancient monument, do make development tricky. Nevertheless, a council-commissioned urban fringe study has identified the site as suitable for housing.

I am fully won over by the arguments of campaigners, including site representative and sheep lookerer Jane Hawkins, who strongly make the case for the benefit of allotments generally and the unsuitability of this site for housing. I would add that we should be very weary indeed of allowing any green spaces locally to be built on. If we have to build then let’s go tall elsewhere.

I enjoyed my visit immensely and was fascinated to see Whitehawk Hill transmitting station, which opened in 1959 on the site of a World War II radar station, so close. I thoroughly support the campaign to keep this space as it is.

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