So, that was a relief.
Having fought the developers over the ACV, we went to the Brighton Council Planning Committee and presented our case – and we won!
I had three minutes to make our case and the developers had their three minutes. Councillors asked us a few questions and then had a long discussion. In all, the entire application took about 80 minutes to decide.
The evidence we prepared for the Pub Action Group had to be geared around the Council’s planning policies and national planning policy. It’s not enough to say ‘lots of people don’t want to lose the pub’ because those aren’t sufficient ground to reject an application.
We didn’t really know how it would go until the vote. Some Councillors said they’d abstain, then changed their minds at the vote. One Councillor said he longed to save the ‘Great British Pub’ but didn’t see what he could do, seemingly not realising he had a golden opportunity in front of him. Another was worried that the developers would appeal, and the council would be liable, so argued that the Council should not stand in the developers’ way. That seemed to rouse a previously agnostic member or two, affronted that the Council should roll over in the face of such fears.
The vote was taken and we won by 7 votes to 3 with 2 abstentions. That was particularly gratifying because the recommendation from planning officers was that the application be granted, so we got the Councillors to go against the professional view.