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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: 

The Brighton Astoria story staggers on

The Astoria building in Gloucester Place, Brighton was built in 1933 to a design by  cinema architect, Edward A Stone. Some Georgian and Victorian houses were demolished to make way for it.  It was designed as both a cinema and a theatre but was operated, mainly as a cinema and then a bingo hall, finally closing in 1997.

In 2000 it was listed (Grade II) and the listing statement describes it as “ particularly unusual in its French art deco style”.

Since then various schemes have been proposed to develop it for office or residential use.  In 2011 demolition was approved together with designs for a six-storey business centre to replace it; the architects were the Conran Partnership.  Most recently a residential scheme was approved on appeal.

The planning authority is currently considering an application to modify this approved plan, including significant changes to the external appearance.

The original building has now been empty for over a decade during which time it has had several owners. Its current condition reflects the neglect it has suffered.  Historic England has indicated that it has no objection to demolition nor to this latest plan. The Regency Society shares this view.  It would be good to see the site re-developed to provide much needed homes.

Two contrasting housing schemes

The Regency Society has tried to support housing development in the city to provide much needed homes.  This month we have looked at two small schemes, both in Portslade.

The first is at 33 Mile Oak Road.  This site currently has just one dwelling.  The proposal is to demolish it and build seven new homes.  The plans show a pleasingly “casual” layout of the site and the houses themselves have a mix of interesting designs. We welcome this increase in housing density on the site and hope that the application will be approved.

The second site is in Clarendon Place, off North Street, Portslade.  At present it is an unattractive industrial area.  The plan is to build a terrace of four, three-storey houses and a small office building. The floor plans suggest that three of the four new houses will be very pokey.  This application poses two contrasting questions. On the one hand, is this rather run-down industrial area a suitable place to build new houses?  On the other hand, could a development of this kind kick-start the re-generation of the area?  Regardless of the answers to these questions, we hope the planners will reject the scheme because of the very poor standard of housing that it offers.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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 December 2017 we considered the following issues: 

Brighton Square

Society members may remember our previous thoughts about plans for Brighton Square.

There is now a new proposal for this site – read our latest thoughts here.

Toad’s Hole Valley

Plans for Toads Hole Valley have developed with the arrival of the Congar, the company which has now developed a masterplan. Read or response to this here.

Windsor Street

Conservation areas play an important role in protecting our city’s heritage. Windsor Street is in the North Laine conservation area which is characterised by small buildings, mostly of traditional design. A new application seeks to demolish two such traditional style houses with brickwork in subdued colours and replace them with a much taller, bright red brick building in a 20th century style. The existing buildings are themselves fairly recent, but they are somewhat traditional in design, with just three storeys and wooden sash windows. The replacement is an interesting design in itself but is quite out of keeping with its neighbours to the south. With its five storeys, it will overpower them. For these reasons we are asking the planners to refuse the application on the grounds that it will damage the character of the conservation area.

Surrenden Road

Varndean College are hoping to generate funds by selling off a rough plot of land at the edge of their playing fields. The plan is for ten new houses, designed in a way to avoid offending the neighbours on the other side of the road. The proposed buildings are small and low, thus allowing the neighbours to retain their southerly views across the playing fields. We are opposing this scheme as a missed opportunity. The site is large enough to provide significantly more than just ten new homes. We believe that the new buildings should match those opposite in massing and design ambition, rather than hunkering down in the hope that no one will notice they are there. This could be achieved while still retaining some of the neighbours’ southerly views.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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 November 2017 we considered the following issues: 

Valley Gardens

Society members may remember that we opposed this scheme because it is unimaginative. It was approved by the Council’s Planning Committee in November. The Planning Forum noted that a late addition to the documents shows the related traffic scheme and suggests that southbound traffic travelling down the east side of the gardens will be forced from two to one lane in each direction for a section in Grand Parade. Although this is not a planning matter, it was agreed that the society should write to Gill Mitchell (lead councillor of transport) to ask what traffic modelling had been done to assess how this would affect traffic flows.

29 – 31 New Church Road

We are concerned the proposal for 63 flats plus a synagogue and community buildings on this one acre site could represent over-development. It will be necessary to see more detailed drawings before adopting a firm view.

It was agreed to write to Morgan Carn supporting the spirit of the scheme while expressing possible concern over the high density. We will ask for an opportunity to see the existing drawings again.

Significant proposals

We discussed two significant schemes currently under consideration for the Amex House site and a new tea house for Hove Park. Click on the images below to read more.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

The Society keeps a special reserve for occasions when an exceptionally important conservation project comes along. We look after it carefully and do not dip into it often. After careful consideration, the committee has decided that Madeira Arches is an especially deserving and urgent cause. So this is the right moment to put our conservation project reserve to good use.

We've decided that we will contribute as generously as we can afford to the restoration of the Madeira Arches. The Society is pledging £10,000.

By setting an example we hope to encourage others, so we will be seeking as much  publicity as possible for our donation. The Regency Society should be taking a lead on causes like this in the hope that others will follow. If our members, the general public and the conservation community locally and nationally join us in contributing we may be able to prevent disaster.  You can help too: please click here to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign.
...continue reading "We pledge £10,000 to help restore the Madeira Arches"

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 October 2017 we considered the following applications: 

St Aubyns School, High Street. Rottingdean

Yet another attempt is being made to get permission for housing on the former playing field behind the school buildings. As with the previous plan, this one involves retaining part of the field as open space. The rest will be developed as housing.

There is a lot of opposition to this in Rottingdean because of its potential impact on traffic and local amenities. The society believes that the site should be used to contribute towards the city’s housing need. The housing proposed is thoughtfully designed to blend well with its older neighbours.

We have therefore supported the scheme. You can read the original application here  and our comments here.

Valley Gardens/St Peter’s Church

The Council is resurrecting plans to reconfigure traffic flows from St Peter’s through Valley Gardens to the seafront. The east side will be a two-way route for traffic coming into and leaving the city centre. The west side will be for buses and taxis.

These traffic changes do not require planning permission. This application is for proposed changes to the central area. The hope is that the revised traffic scheme will make the gardens more accessible and hence better used.

The Regency Society has its doubts about the viability of the new traffic scheme. However, if it does go ahead we support the idea of attracting more people to enjoy what is the most significant green open space in central Brighton.

Sadly we cannot support this particular set of plans. They involve a bleak hard gravel square to the south of the church. The gardens themselves will undergo various changes but little detail is given in the application. What detail there is suggests a scheme which is unimaginative and unlikely to be well maintained.

David Robson writes with detailed thoughts about this scheme here. You can read the application here and our formal comments here.

Richardson’s Yard, New England Road

Brighton Housing Trust has made good use of this former industrial site, using former shipping containers to provide homes for those in real need, for example rough sleepers. This application is to continue the permission for a further five years. The Regency Society supports it.

We also support the similar application for the neighbouring site where containers are being used as workspaces. Read the application here.

Cottages in Station Approach, Falmer

If you pass through Falmer station regularly you will probably know the two boarded-up cottages which back onto the train line just on the Lewes side of the station. This application seeks to demolish them and build a residence for 90 students.

 

The cottages were probably attractive in their day but they are now looking very sad. The society does not oppose their demolition: they are not listed nor are they in a conservation area. Meanwhile the city needs more purpose-built student housing.

Even so, we are objecting to this scheme because of the poor design of the proposed new building. It uses white render and wood cladding, both materials which do not fare well in the local climate. Other buildings nearby are in brick, which would be much more appropriate. Read the application here and our formal comments here.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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.

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. You can read more about the Planning Forum here.

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

In September 2017 we considered the following applications: 

2, The Conifers (Tongdean)

We considered a plan for demolition of a house in the Tongdean conservation area. The proposed replacement is very poorly designed so in this case we decided to object. You can read our objection here.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink

There was quite a bit of discussion about the ice rink. There has been an ice rink in front of the Royal Pavilion for several years and this application was asking for permission to continue with it for the next six years.

The temporary structures required obscure an important view of our city’s most important listed building for almost one third of the year. On the other hand, the rink generates much needed cash for the maintenance of the Pavilion. So, there are good arguments for and against. After a useful discussion, we decided that proper maintenance of the building is essential so we will not object.

Plans for a large block of student housing in Lewes Road

The building is large but does step up from south, providing a number of different level roof spaces. This seems appropriate in the context of the larger scheme for the Preston Barracks site. We decided not to comment.

Other planning issues discussed at the Planning Forum

We also discusssed an outline application for housing on land of Overdown Rise, Mile Oak, The Jubilee Car Park at the University of Sussex and the replacement of windows at Hove Town Hall  but decided to make no comment.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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"

After much careful thought the trustees of the Regency Society have decided to withdraw the society from Brighton and Hove City Council Conservation Advisory Group (CAG).

This is not a decision which has been taken lightly or easily: we have been associated with CAG since it was established and several society trustees have chaired it at various times.

The move is prompted by a recent incident when CAG’s representative on the Planning Committee seriously misrepresented the CAG’s agreed views about a major development.

CAG has provided the society with an important channel through which to pursue its primary objective of protecting and improving our city’s built environment. We will of course continue to pursue this objective through other means. We'll be reporting on this in due course as new arrangements develop.

Read our full account here. If you would like to express a view on this or any other issue the committee would be very pleased to hear from you. Please use the 'contact us' box on this site or send an email to Roger Hinton.

The illustration above shows an artist's impression of the plan for the development at Ellen Street which was the subject of misrepresentation at the Planning Committee. You can read more about the Regency Society's original response to this scheme here.