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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 issue:

Tangle of buildings streamlined

The Regency Society welcomed this refurbishment and extension of 126-127 St James’s Street to provide four residential dwellings. Although access to the site is presently from St James’s Street the application site is to the rear of the Flemish Renaissance-style façade abutting the rear of Steyne Mansions on Stein Street.

The site covers a row of linked buildings on the north east side of Steine Street, which runs east from Old Steine to the corner (where the site is), then south towards the sea front.

Although the property is not of architectural significance, the area around it is. In the East Cliffe Conservation area it is surrounded by listed buildings at 1-4, 124 and 130 St James’s Street and the Star Inn at 7-9 Manchester Street.

The ground floor of the buildings are presently occupied by an amusement arcade and tanning parlour; the first floor is unoccupied and in decay. The proposal is to rebuild the upper floor and add a second floor to create four duplex residential units with access to the apartments via a new entrance and staircase located on Steine Street.

The application provides a sound heritage statement and is thus designed with sensitivity to the area, particularly in terms of its mass and materials. The design solution will significantly lift a somewhat neglected back street, once mews for the buildings on Old Steine, and enhance rather than compete with its heritage surrounds.

See application here

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Lyn Turpin reflects on a lovely afternoon in the Secret Garden at the Regency Society annual Garden Party

Despite concern that ticket sales were down and that maybe the garden party has had its day as a summer event, the annual Regency Society garden party on 23 June was once again a great success. It was helped, no doubt, by the sunshine, the wine and the delicious canapés. And, of course, the delightful setting of Kemptown’s Secret Garden, now owned and maintained by the Antony Dale Trust.

Worries about ticket sales were unfounded as numbers were virtually the same as last year, with almost a third paying at the door, maybe encouraged by the good weather.

Music played in the background as people nibbled, drank and chatted with old friends and new faces. Had I known I was going to be writing this, I might have listened more carefully to the music playing but possibly there was some Glenn Miller and definitely a little Ink Spots! So nothing too loud or aggressive or likely to upset the neighbours.

We were joined by some special visitors, including Councillor Dee Simson, Brighton & Hove’s new mayor; Sir Simon Jenkins, President of the Regency Society, and Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, Vice President of the Society and Chair of the Antony Dale Trust. The mayor said a few words, congratulating the Society on its work encouraging concern for our city’s built environment, and drew the first ticket (and several more) of the afternoon’s raffle (prizes predominantly books and booze). Gavin Henderson also spoke, giving us a potted history of the Secret Garden and the Antony Dale Trust’s plans for future development and uses of the garden. These include an exhibition in next year’s Brighton Festival of the work of sculptor, William Pye, probably best known in the south-east for his water sculpture at Gatwick Airport.

Click on an image to enlarge

Special thanks must go to Martin Auton-Lloyd for the catering; Delia Forester, Helen Walker, Rupert Radcliffe-Genge and Richard Robinson for their sterling work on the bar and raffle; Suzanne Hinton and Kate Ormond at the door; David Robson for photography and ferrying tables back and forth, and Roger Hinton, Chair of the Society and provider of the music from his extensive collection of 78s. And to all the people who attended – perhaps the garden party hasn’t had its day after all!

Images of the party by David Robson

Images of the garden by Nick Dwyer

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 issue:

Building new council homes should be good news

If one follows the views of the Regency Society on planning applications for housing it is noticeable our objections commonly relate to the need for greater density and affordability, particularly in large sites in response to demand. By contrast, on occasion objections may relate to over-development.

However, the recent application for a block of 30 flats on council land on Lewes Road attracts a different sort of objection.

Trustee Kate Jordan sets out the reasons for our objection.

“The Regency Society opposes plans for a 7 storey residential block in Selsfield Drive. Though the scheme will provide much needed social housing, the current design is out of scale with the surrounding buildings and fails to respect the 'garden suburb' grain of the area. Moulescoomb is an important early cottage-style council estate, laid out to the design principles of Ebenezer Howard by the renowned planners Adshead and Ramsey (also responsible for the Duchy of Cornwall Estate in Kennington) with the intention of providing 'homes fit for heroes'.The carefully-considered street plan follows the topography of the Downs and comprises generous front and rear gardens and expansive grass verges. While the development under construction on the nearby Preston Barracks site sets a precedent for tall buildings along the Lewes road, these form a cluster, whereas the proposed building on Selsfield Drive sits awkwardly with the surrounding low rise blocks, dominates a key piece of the original landscaping and is insensitive to the general character of the area.”

See application here

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The Regency Society has pledged £7k to the Saltdean Lido crowd-funding appeal to help the Community Interest Company (CIC) achieve its goal of £101.997. This will help unlock an additional grant of £4.19m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for preserving the rest of the building. The Society agreed to make a pledge, acknowledging the significance of the Lido as one of the finest remaining examples of modernist lidos in the UK. The appeal closes on 16 June. Prior to the RS pledge,  over 90% of the total had been donated. Regency Society Chair Roger Hinton comments:

"Restoration of the Saltdean Lido site is one of Brighton and Hove's most important heritage projects. The Saltdean Lido Trust has already brought the pool back into use and is now turning its attention to the main building which is in urgent need of restoration. The Regency Society is pleased to be able to support the project. We believe that it will not only save a fine building but also create an important
asset for the local community." ...continue reading "Regency Society supports Saltdean Lido"

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: 

Will single dwellings on the seafront continue to disappear?

A new application seeks to redevelop, for housing, the east end of one of the few remaining seafront blocks still at the scale of domestic houses. Three of six large family houses at 239 - 243 Kingsway are proposed for demolition to make way for a single block of 37 apartments, ranging from five to eight storeys, with associated car parking.

According to the design statement a key feature is a ribbon at each floor that wraps round the building and is intended to create a unified and unifying form.  The dominant elevation is Hove Lawns and the seafront. A secondary public façade, facing onto Braemore Road, adopts a similar motif.

The Regency Society has no objection to a tall block on the site and applauds the responsive consultation process that resulted in changes based on comments received.  The committee will not be commenting finding the application neither particularly outstanding nor objectionable.

When is additional housing objectionable?

Given the dire need for housing, are some applications just not acceptable?  We think so. In the following two cases we have raised objections because we think the proposals offer minimal accommodation but considerable blight to their surrounds.

The first application is land to the rear of 62-64 Preston Road, presently largely disused workshop space related to Cannadines.  The site is a tight triangular and largely residual area. Two previous applications have been refused resulting in a three rather than four storey addition and two rather than three flats.

While we agree that the existing elevation fronting Ditchling Rise is rough and unattractive, we have objected to the present proposal as it is too large, leaves little outside space on the site and will over-shadow the flats to the north and potentially overlook those to the south.    See planning application here

The second is 84 Tongdean Lane where there is an existing house set well back on a long narrow site with a garage fronting onto the road. The proposal is to demolish the garage and infill with a house to fit the narrow site with parking for four cars (to serve two households) at the very front of the site directly onto the road.

We have objected to the scheme not only because the proposed parking is at a road junction and potentially dangerous but also the usually landscaped buffer common to all the houses on the lane, will be lost to the sight of four cars.   See planning application here

 

Would you like to comment on this article? The committee, RS members and other site users would be interested to hear your views so we are inviting you to share your thoughts online. If you would like to do so you will need to register first – it only takes a moment and once registered you can log in and comment on other articles on this site in the future. Click here to register. If you have already registered, simply click on ‘you must be logged in’ at the bottom of the page.

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.

Would you like to comment on this article? The committee, RS members and other site users would be interested to hear your views so we are inviting you to share your thoughts online. If you would like to do so you will need to register first – it only takes a moment and once registered you can log in and comment on other articles on this site in the future. Click here to register. If you have already registered, simply click on ‘you must be logged in’ at the bottom of the page.

We're very disappointed with plans for the King's House building (formerly council offices) on the corner of Grand Avenue and Kingsway.

Our concern covers more or less every aspect of the proposal currently under consideration.

It's too massive

The new structure will not only replace the building which faces Grand Avenue. It will also include a new block where the car park is now. These three structures, including the original Grade II building which faces Kingsway, will have very little space between them.

It would be an oppressive place to live

Almost half the apartments will face into sunless internal spaces and have no views. The new block which will face onto Grand Avenue includes single-aspect flats with  dining areas 7 metres from any window. The inhabitants will need the light on all day.

You will be no better off if you opt for a flat in the North facing blocks of the main building. These flats will have no sunlight all day either.  Its structure consists of  'outriggers' (blocks which jut out from the main building). These are only 8 metres apart so will get very little, if any, direct light and very poor privacy. The Western aspect faces a blank wall. And this is one of the most desirable sea-side spots on Brighton and Hove!

There is very little open space - all of the available land has been crammed with buildings. This is a worrying trend (see our comments last month on proposals for the Amex site).

It will look a mess

We don't like the design, which feels to us as if it is an attempt to make the ungainly whole look smaller than it actually is. So it won't even be a pleasure to walk past, if you are lucky enough to live in the much superior 1930s 4 Grand Avenue, just up the road.

What about affordable housing?

This proposal is coy about affordable housing. We don't know how much is proposed nor where it would be but we fear that this is the intention for the worst of the depressing, dark apartments.

Future generations deserve better

We find this proposal unacceptable in every way. It is very sad that a prime spot on our sea front attracts so little ambition for the future of our city. It condemns future generations to a substandard home if you live there, and a depressing view if you merely have to look at it. Alas this sort of development seems to be a growing trend.  We call on the council to raise everybody's aspirations by declaring this sort of proposal unacceptable.

Read our objections

See the full planning application

 

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: 

Opening up the backlands

Most people agree that our city needs more homes. Once the discussion turns to where to put them that agreement is likely to evaporate.

There will be no single answer to this question. We must “look down every rabbit hole” as the planning inspector said when commenting on the City Plan. Hopefully she was arguing for a range of solutions, rather than suggesting that green-fields would be the only answer.

The Society has recently looked at two planning applications which both illustrate one such “rabbit hole”, namely backland development. The outer suburbs of Brighton and Hove were originally developed at low densities. Now that we are struggling to find places for new homes, is it perhaps time to use suburban space more intensively?

The first scheme is in Downs Valley Road, Woodingdean. The proposal is to build four new, two-storey houses behind two existing bungalows, literally at the bottom of the gardens. A vehicle entrance will be created between the bungalows so that on-site parking can be provided. Read the planning application here

The second is slightly different: the backland in question already has a building on it. It is a plan for the former Dairy Crest site in the Droveway. The site was first used as a farm around 1800. In the early 20th century it became a dairy, operated latterly by Unigate until it closed a few years ago. It is not nationally listed, but it is included in the Council’s list buildings of local interest. It is surrounded by suburban residential properties.

The current proposal is for a mixed-use development and aims to “retain the character of the existing agricultural buildings. Some employment space will be provided towards the front of the site, with 14 new housing units mainly towards the rear, replacing part of the existing building. Read the planning application here.

What do you think of these attempts to use the suburbs to help solve the housing crisis?

Proposal for Amex house site

We’re not happy with the proposal for the Amex house site – read about our concerns here.

Would you like to comment on this article? The committee, RS members and other site users would be interested to hear your views so we are inviting you to share your thoughts online. If you would like to do so you will need to register first – it only takes a moment and once registered you can log in and comment on other articles on this site in the future. Click here to register. If you have already registered, simply click on ‘you must be logged in’ at the bottom of the page.

Last month, following our cabbage awards evening, we asked you to let us know if you have any favourite buildings of the last 118 years to redress the balance. It's nice to know we can praise as well as criticise!

Jane Carver nominates Brighton and Hove's tram (now bus) shelters because 'some have a delightful rustic charm and the one in Pavilion Parade (designed by Borough Engineer David Edwards) is thoroughly modern with straight lines and curves. Simple, elegant and fit for purpose'.

Elaine Evans nominates Frieze Green House on Portland Road, which won Development of the Year at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s South East Awards in 2016.

Alison Minns nominates John Howard Cottages in Roedean Road because: 'I like the Arts and Crafts feel about the group of buildings and the fact that the cottages are not visible from the road. It is a peaceful and little-known set of buildings with a homely feel. I have a personal affection for the cottages (a sort of philanthropic almshouse development by Sir John Howard) because my late husband's aunt - a retired nurse - lived happily there for many years.'

Mary McKean nominates 'Gossip in the Steine Cafe' because it is 'quintessentially Brighton....' and the matching bus shelters already nominated by Jane Carver an elegant but modest example of 1930s stylishness.

Roger Hinton nominates the now disappeared Amex building on Edward Street 'because unlike other office buildings in Edward Street it stood back from the roadside, providing a pleasant public space and a good view of its distinctive facade.'

Kevin Wilsher nominates Saltdean Lido because 'it is one of the finest examples of modernist lidos in the UK.  It's also a great example of the restoration of an important building driven by the energy and determination of a local community group'.

John McKean nominates the temporary installations at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, and has submitted a whole gallery of images to prove it (see below), because 'it is wonderful, thrilling, an extraordinary gigantic metallic ballet, and at night a firework display high above the city - especially exciting seen from high up Wilson Avenue or from A259 at Roedean... and then there's that amazing open-air roof-top race-track... Catch it before it vanishes! By far the outstanding sight of Brighton 2017-18'

An anonymous nomination selects the Jubilee Library because 'it shows what one truly excellent building can do to lift a previously dead space - empty for far too long.'

Photo credits: Frieze Green House: Jim Stephenson. Saltdean Lido: Simon Carey, Brighton tram shelter by Catchesthelight (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0),