Building Plans for Growing Food

New developments in Brighton and Hove could include food growing spaces for residents.  A new Planning Advice Note aimed at developers, designers, architects and planning officers, recommends ways in which food growing can be included in building plans.

Refreshing ideas for developers

The Planning Advice Note, written by Brighton and Hove City Council in a joint project with the Food Partnership was first launched in 2011 and has recently been updated.  The updates were informed by development professionals and the food growing community in the city and include practical examples for the successful integration of food growing spaces.  On Thursday 24th September, the Planning Advice Note was adopted by the Council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee.

Emily O’Brien from Brighton and Hove Food Partnership says “Brighton and Hove were pioneers when it comes to looking at food growing through the planning system, but a lot has changed since 2011.  People’s gardens and green spaces have been a lifeline during the pandemic and many have started growing their own food for the very first time  It now seems more important than ever to look at our living spaces and our food resilience”.

 

Raised garden createed by residents and funded by Southern Housing at Wellend Villas, Brighton. Growing in planters and container

Changing our relationship with food

The update comes at a time when the city’s food resilience has been exposed due to Covid-19 and people have been compelled to think about what they eat and where their food comes from.  During lockdown local producers and community gardens stepped in to fill the gap left by complex supermarket supply chains.  Urban food growing spaces such as Saunders Park Community Garden and Preston Park Demo Garden supplied fresh veg to emergency food projects, drawing attention to the role of urban growing spaces in local food resilience.

 

Sales data shows that public interest in growing fruit and veg at home has increased across the UK as sales in seeds and compost soared during lockdown. Local growing projects provided mini-allotments and seedlings to support those wanting to grow their own, whether it be on windowsills, patios or in gardens.

The Planning Advice Note describes different ways in which developers feature food growing, including edible hedgerows, roof gardens or mini allotments.  It draws on local best practice examples such as the fruit orchards planted by Brighton Permaculture around local housing estates and schools.  The need for water collection and composting is also included and considerations such as accessibility and design.

Benefits of locally grown food

Photo credit: Bioregional

The Planning Advice Note acknowledges the benefits of food growing spaces on people’s health, the positive impact of local food on the environment and the learning opportunity that growing food brings to a community.

Councillor Marianna Ebel, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture committee said: “I hope the Planning Advice Note will inspire developers to embrace the opportunity to incorporate food growing into their new development plans, creating places that people will be proud to live or work in.

“Shared spaces to grow food would provide a chance to address some of the inequalities in access to productive green spaces and create developments that would align with our goal for the city to become Carbon Neutral by 2030.

Planning in the wider context

Discussions about the planning system have never been more topical at time when planning is in the news due to ‘Planning for the Future’, a major government proposal for planning reform.

 

Full Planning Advice Note: Food Growing and Development:

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