Regenerating City College
Brighton and Hove City College (still known affectionately to many as The Tech) is proposing big changes for its site in Pelham Street at the northern end of the North Laine Conservation Area.
The first phase will result in a new building on what is now the college car park. It will be smaller than the existing Pelham Tower, with a main entrance from an attractive public space at the northern end of Redcross Street. There will be a training restaurant and hairdressing facilities at street level, open to the public.
Pelham Tower, currently the college’s main building, already has more space than the college needs and even less will be needed when some courses are moved out of the city centre to the Wilson Avenue site. To fund the new building, it will be demolished and the land will be sold for development as student residences, probably for the University of Brighton.
Residents in the North Laine are not happy with this proposal for more student accommodation on their doorsteps, even though it is suggested in the draft City Plan. There are also plans to turn the former Co-op store in London Road into residences. The area is already a magnet for young people looking for night time entertainment.
A combined planning application is expected soon for the new college and the residences.
The character of the area
Buildings on the site to the east of Pelham Street are also earmarked for demolition and sale to help fund the project. Residential development is suggested here but the college will leave it to the new owners to apply for detailed planning permission.
The Regency Society has welcomed the proposed public space and improvements to the townscape vistas but we have questioned the sustainability of demolishing Pelham Tower rather than reconfiguring it and are strongly encouraging the retention of the Gloucester Building, as well as the nearby Trafalgar and York Buildings, which date to the 19th century and were designed by the architects Simpson and Son.
“They make a coherent group…and contribute to the character of the area,” we wrote. “We hope that developers will look seriously at the possibility of adapting them for residential use in preference to demolition.”
• You can see details of the scheme here.
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Artist's impressions, from top: Redcross Street public square; aerial view of the development; view from Pelham Street; Pelham Street public square