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The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, meets monthly to discuss planning applications which the Forum considers significant.

Each society forms its own view on the applications and decides what action, if any, to take. 

In our latest meeting we considered the following issues: 

Monsieur Poirot would not approve

Number 4 Grand Avenue is one of Hove’s finest 20th century buildings. It is also one of the best preserved.

It was built in 1939 to a design by Murrell and Pigott. It’s 1930s look is striking and, in the words of Regency Society member Robert Nemeth, “it would make an ideal home for a certain Monsieur Poirot”.

It is important that its distinctive appearance should be preserved. That is why the Regency Society has objected to a planning application to install a glass balustrade behind the balcony railing on the eighth floor.

The reason for the plan is perfectly understandable, to reduce the risk children falling through the existing railings. So why are we objecting?

The balcony is on the top floor and is clearly visible against the sky. Glass is a far from an invisible material and, in this position, it will act as a reflector. We are also worried that the proposed fixing into the stone parapet will not be strong enough to resist high winds.

We believe that there are alternative solutions. For example, an additional metal railing composed of fine horizontal bars set back behind the existing railing would be almost invisible. See the planning application here

The society has welcomed a plan to install a new sign near the landward end of the pier. The sign will read “Brighton Palace Pier” thus restoring its previous, but not quite its original name. Back in 1899 when the pier was opened, it was named the ”Brighton Marine Palace and Pier” and the initial BMPP can still be seen in places as you stroll along it.

However, we are less impressed by a new structure which has appeared directly outside the pier entrance. It is a large, windowless, wooden shed housing a gift shop and it looks quite out of place. No planning application has been made as far as we know. We have asked the Council to take enforcement action.

See the planning application here

Proposal for King’s House in Hove

We’re not at all happy with the proposal for the King’s House on Grand Avenue – read about our concerns here.

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Edward Street is not one of the city’s most attractive thoroughfares. The western section, between Grand Parade and Upper Rock Gardens, is a wide, pedestrian-unfriendly dual carriageway. Its north side presents a depressing series of unattractive, buildings, constructed right up to the pavement edge.

Amex House, previously amongst them, offered a “breath of fresh air” in this unrelenting gloom. Set back from the pavement, its frontage provided an attractive, sunlit public space. It was one of Brighton’s best pieces of late 20th century architecture. The design was distinctive, and the materials were sympathetic to its coastal location.

A proposed new scheme places tall buildings right up to the pavement, closing up this one gap in the street-scene. There are open spaces further back in the development, but their position is unlikely to be as successful as that in front of Amex House. Surrounding buildings will block out the sun for much of the time.

Cafés are included at ground floor level. The plans show open air tables and chairs, creating an inviting impression of vibrant communal spaces. But we do not believe that cafés would flourish in these spaces, starved of sunlight probably subject to wind tunnel effects. They would have a much better chance of commercial success located in a larger, sunnier piazza, open to Edward Street, where they could also enliven that street’s dreary north side.

A tall, dense development is not unreasonable on this city-centre site. The proposed south-west building (block F) could be moved 15-20m. back from the pavement edge to re-create the piazza on Edward Street. The floor space lost could be re-located further back in the site, by increasing the height of the rear-centre block. This would have the extra advantage of adding variety and articulation to the profile of the development.

The designs proposed for the new buildings themselves are boring and bland. They show no sympathy for their location in one of England’s most significant seaside towns. No attempt has been made to use the roofs to create additional green space.

This site offers an opportunity to create a striking architectural statement to match that of the former Amex House. That opportunity will be lost if the current plans are approved.

Read the planning application here

Read our submission to the council

 

We are grateful to member David Roberts for reminding us of a twentieth century building designed by our Vice President, John Wells Thorpe, which was not included in the RIBA map shown at the 'Mapping the best of Brighton Modern' event on 21 February.

...continue reading "Church of the Ascension in Westdene"

Toads Hole Valley is by far the largest urban fringe site identified for development in the City Plan. The Council has recently published a “Supplementary Planning Document” for the site. This sets out in more detail how they see its development.

The arrival of St Congar's masterplan

One of the challenges of a site as large as Toads Hole Valley is ensuring development is coherent rather than piecemeal. This now looks more likely with the recent arrival on the scene of development company St Congar. They intend to work in conjunction with the landowners on a masterplan. They will not undertake  development themselves but instead split the site into parcels of land for development by different investors.

...continue reading "Toads Hole Valley: recent consultation"

The Pavilion Tea House in Hove Park is much loved by locals, particularly when the sun is shining, and you can sit outside. However, this pleasant building is no longer large enough to cope with the all-year-round business it now attracts. The kitchen is cramped, there are no toilets or disabled facilities and the inside seating is limited.

...continue reading "A new tea house for Hove Park?"

David Robson considers the current plans to remodel Valley Gardens and is disappointed.

Valley Gardens is a precious green lung that barely survives between two arteries of thundering traffic at the heart of our City. Framed by a theatrical backdrop of buildings of different styles and periods, it has the potential to act as an exciting urban promenade, as an event space, as a place of repose. However, plans currently being advanced by the Council fail to exploit this potential and promise little more than clipped grass, trampled flowerbeds and bonded gravel.

...continue reading "How grey is our valley – we object to proposals for Valley Gardens"

The Brighton Unitarian Church in New Road is a striking building. It stands on what was originally part of the Royal Pavilion gardens. The Prince Regent sold it to the Unitarian congregation in 1819 for £650, allegedly to help stave off bankruptcy.

Just over a year later the church was finished. The architect, Amon Henry Wilds drew inspiration from the temple of Theseus in Athens, giving the building an immense pediment and columns which still dominate the east end of new Road.

The story today

Sadly, these features of the building are now decaying. As a result, it has been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. Attempts are being made to obtain a restoration grant.

Read more about the Portico Repair Project here.

Meanwhile the church’s activities continue, including an impressive series of weekly lunchtime concerts. The November programme starts on Friday 3rd (12:30 – 1:15 pm; coffee from 12 noon). Pianist An-Ting Chan will play music inspired by animals. See the full programme here.

Our protests, along with those of other groups, about the latest damage to Marlborough House, one of our most important heritage assets have been heard. The Council has decided to refuse the retrospective application for permission to paint the exterior of the building. We await developments with interest.

As members know, Marlborough House is the second most important building in Brighton and Hove. The current Pevsner guide calls it Brighton’s 'finest late C18 house'.  Its construction, formed from a previous red-bricked house owned Thomas Shergold,  in 1786 to a design by Robert Adam predates all of Brighton's Regency Squares, Crescents and Terraces. Adam intended the original to look as if it were faced with Portland Stone. This was to achieve a classical effect and is typical of Adam. Adam's style has had huge influence on building design throughout Europe and beyond ever since. It must have been a magnificent and striking sight at a time when central Brighton had few distinctive buildings. ...continue reading "Marlborough House – the Council refuses the restrospective planning application"

April 2017

The Regency Society has made the following comments on application BH2017/00492 submitted  by the University of Brighton in March 2017 for full planning permission for the redevelopment of Preston Barracks and Mithras House Car Park and outline planning permission for redevelopment of the Watts Building Car Park.

Although the proposals are disappointing in some respects, the Society is minded to support them for the following reasons:

  •  the site has been a derelict eyesore for far too long,
  • we welcome the consolidation and expansion  of the University of Brighton
  • new student housing is sorely needed and will take pressure off conventional housing in the area
  • we support the reinforcement of the academic corridor linking the Steine to Falmer
  • the development will contribute positively to the economy of the City.
  • we have no  objection on conservation grounds - the site does not fall within a conservation area and the proposals will not affect any of the City’s heritage assets. (We understand that the surviving Regency Period  barracks fall outside of the site boundaries and will remain the property of the M.o.D.)
  • Even as they stand the proposals will considerably improve what has become a depressing urban corridor.
  • We do not have a problem with the proposed heights of the buildings.  The site lies in the bottom of a valley and falls within an area that has been ear-marked for tall buildings (SPGBH15 of 2004). Inevitably the development will be visible from other parts of the City and from various points on the Downs, though we don’t consider that this will necessarily pose a problem. Indeed it could add a point of interest to the City’s profile and act as a marker for the ‘academic corridor’.

...continue reading "Preston Barracks site: our comments on the planning application"