Opinions, opinions

 
The Regency Society is nothing if not opinionated.
 
We have views about all kinds of things from how to meet our city’s future housing needs to the removal of a central heating flue from a church roof.
 
But where do they come from, these opinions? And how can the Society’s ordinary members influence them?  As with so many things, the answer is: it depends. Two very different examples illustrate the point.
 
The first is the Local List – the council’s list of buildings of interest, which aren’t quite interesting enough to have gained a national listing with English Heritage. It’s an important list nonetheless because a building’s inclusion can be taken into account when a planning decision is made.
 
Recently, the council held a public consultation, inviting suggestions for buildings to be added to the list. The Society submitted 25 suggestions. Society trustees identified and investigated possible candidates and, through our newsletter, website, Facebook page and Twitter stream, we invited members (and others) to make their own suggestions. We reviewed the candidates at one of our regular trustee meetings and came up with our 25 submissions to the council. We are now waiting to see which are accepted.
 
The second example relates to number 43 Russell Square in Brighton (the images on the right all show Russell Square). This is a charming Georgian house, part of a listed terrace, which had fallen into disrepair before the death of its previous, elderly owner. In late 2012, the new owner applied for permission to convert it to a house in multiple occupation.
 
The application was referred to the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group (CAG). This group meets every three weeks and the Regency Society is represented on it. So, every three weeks, we hold a meeting of our trustees to review the applications which CAG will be looking at a day or so later.
 
We looked at the Russell Square plans, which showed that many of the proposed rooms would be excessively small, so we decided to object. Our objection was partly the obvious one that the rooms would not provide decent homes but we were also concerned that over-crowding would not be conducive to the proper conservation of this historic building. Other members of CAG agreed and a recommendation was made for refusal.

We are glad to report that the planning committee refused the application, in spite of an officer's recommendation to the contrary.
 
The Society looks at several applications every three weeks in order to guide our CAG representative. The timescale involved means it is not possible to consult the full membership on every application. Where there is more time, in cases such as the local list, we try to consult more widely.
 
If you’d like to know more about how the Regency Society is run, do get in touch.

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