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The Society has not held an annual general meeting since April 2019.  So, we are very pleased to announce our next AGM which will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 8th September. The venue will be the Brighthelm Centre in North Road Brighton.  We will be using the large room on the ground floor to allow for social distancing.

The agenda will include the election of several trustees and you can read details of the candidates here:  Candidate statements AGM 2021

The meeting will be followed by an illustrated talk by Suzanne Hinton on “The Twittens of Brighton and Hove”. Non-members are welcome.

Inside the Temple

This month brought a second planning application relating to the Girls school in Montpelier Road, this time dealing with the interior of Thomas Read Kemp’s fine building.

We applaud this application, which will restore the Temple to its rightful position as the focus of the school site.  Its entrance will become the principal entrance to the school, also providing an element of public access.

The Temple is very much a multi-period building, having been in a variety of educational uses for all but the first decade of its two centuries of existence. The current proposals will add another layer to its long history while revealing rather than obscuring it.

 

 

Another Addition at Brighton College

 

 The Regency Society has been supportive of the range of impressive new buildings that have arisen on the Brighton College campus in recent years and which complement the College’s existing listed buildings.

Their latest proposal is for a “Performing Arts Building” to replace three existing, but uninspiring buildings. Historic England was asked to comment on the new proposal. Their response commended the “high quality, innovative design” but suggested that it could appear “overbearing and dominating” from some viewpoints.

They go on the recommend “that the Local Authority explores with the applicant whether the less than substantial harm … can be minimised any further by reducing the scale of the building, so it is not visually dominant or overbearing within the close setting of the listed buildings.”

We believe that the Council’s planners should follow up on this advice and have contacted the Head of Planning to ask whether they will be doing so.

 

Another step forward for Saltdean Lido

 

 We were very pleased to see the latest proposals for the Saltdean Lido building, which, as this photo of the West wing shows, is in desperate need of repair. We have submitted a minor comment regarding the drawings of the proposed balcony infills, but generally we welcome this proposal which is an important step towards bringing the building back into use.

If approved the work will include repairs and alterations to the render, concrete and balustrading. The café will be enlarged and the flagpole and chimney will be reinstated. A new, “bespoke” spiral staircase will be installed in the enlarged café.

 

Good News in Cannon Place

 

 Permission was granted recently for a new hotel in Cannon Place, behind the Metropole Hotel.  As yet, there is no sign of work starting on this major new city-centre building.

However, the planning approval also included renovation of the listed facades of two bow front houses in Cannon Place and of the entrance to the former Newburgh Rooms in St Margaret’s Place.

We’re pleased to report that this restoration work has already been completed.  We now wait with fingers crossed to see how they will look once the new hotel has been constructed around them.

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

 

 

New owners and a new roof for the Hippodrome

The Brighton Hippodrome in Middle Street has been a sad sight in the heart of the Old Town Conservation Area for many years. Some years ago, after much debate, the Regency Society supported controversial plans to convert it to a multi-screen cinema. The plans were approved but never implemented.

Since then, the site has had various owners. Currently it is owned by Hove property development company, Matsim. They have applied for permission to carry out works to create a new roof, above the current one, which is leaking.

The future use of the site is undecided but work to protect the fabric of this Grade II* building is welcome.

Click here to see the Society's comments : Hippodrome comment May 2021

Worst Circus Street fears fulfilled?

The Regency Society spent much time reviewing the plans to develop the site of the former fruit and vegetable market in Circus Street when they were first revealed. We had useful discussions with the developer, but they failed to convince us that their plans would create the vibrant and sunny open spaces promised.

Several years later, the development is now almost finished and it is possible to walk through much of it.  We said that the buildings would be too tall and too close together, creating potential wind tunnels, seriously limiting the amount of sunlight and creating potential overlooking across the narrow spaces between.

If you have a chance, please take a look and tell us if you think we got it right. Or were too pessimistic?

An additional planning application has recently been approved for the site.  It is for a sculpture to be erected on one of the new buildings. The working title is “Dancing Staircase”: it will represent a spiral staircase which springs apart as it rises up the building: a nice touch of the absurd! The sculptor is Alex Chinnek.

 

Should Black Lion Street be grey?

The Regency Society supported a recent planning application for a bold new colour scheme for Moore House in Black Lion Street. The planners disagreed and refused permission on the grounds that the proposed colour scheme would harm the appearance and character of the Old Town Conservation Area and the settings of the neighbouring listed buildings.

A new application proposes a different colour scheme, matching the grey tiles on the Black Lion, which is next door.

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

 

Of Trees and Green Spaces

The Peacock Industrial Estate in Davigdor Road is the location for a lot of new development at present.  The latest plan is for a three-storey office block on a plot of land in front of P&H House.

The land is currently a green space with several trees.  We are objecting to the proposed development on the grounds of the loss of green space.  We have also suggested that a master plan should ne prepared for the whole area before any more new development is considered.

 

Architectural Illiteracy in Ship Street

 If you have ever eaten in the Ivy in Ship Street you may recognise the original features illustrated in our first image. They serve to separate the front and back of house areas of the restaurant.  The second illustration shows what will be left of them if the proposed changes go ahead.

The most striking feature is the central archway. To leave the arch with its keystone, which is intended to appear loadbearing, without visible means of support would be architectural illiteracy.

Fortunately, the planners have taken a similar view and the application has been refused on the grounds of harm to the architectural and historic interest of the listed building

 

Making Space Under the Eaves

 The Queens Park Tennis Club needs more space. Their club house is not quite big enough. However, its roof is bigger than its footprint, so they are proposing to create more space by “infilling” under the eaves.  The new space will provide storage, a seating area and a new disabled WC. A neat solution, which the planners have now approved!

 

A chapel on the move

A huge re-development project is currently underway at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.  As a result, some historic features will be removed, such as the Barry Building which formed its original entrance and presented an impressive view when looking north up Paston Place.

However, not all will be lost. Thanks to an intervention from English Heritage (as it was then known) the planning permission included a condition requiring the removal and storage of the hospital’s fine chapel. The permission is about to expire so a new application has been made to renew it.  This is welcome, but what is not clear is whether, when and where the chapel will be re-constructed.

Click here to see a view of the chapel interior.

 

132 Kings Road

 BH2021/00852 | Erection of a four storey extension onto existing building to form 2no additional self-contained flats, and associated extensions to existing floors. Revised fenestration and associated works. | 132 Kings Road Brighton BN1 2HH

The Regency Society most strongly objects to this application. 132 Kings Road is a heritage asset which warrants at least local listing. The proposals would be highly detrimental to its architectural and historical interest, internally as well as externally.  They would have a severely adverse effect on the character of the Regency Square Conservation Area and on the settings of the adjoining Grade II* St Albans House and locally listed Astra House, of the Grade II* Regency Square and of the Grade II South African War Memorial and the Shelter on the promenade opposite.

The Heritage Statement is a travesty. 132 Kings Road is not as claimed just an “infill building” but the remaining half of a matching pair of late 1790s villas. It is the only survivor of the 18th century buildings between Preston Street and Regency Square and the oldest standing building in Kings Road, older than any of the listed buildings.

The site of 132 and 133 was conveyed in 1793 and is marked as Belle Vue on Cobby’s map of 1799. The Grade II* listed 131 was developed in 1828-30 by Amon Henry Wilds for the Duke of St Albans, two storeys taller than 132. No 134, Regency House, was a storey taller than 132-3. With 133, it was then redeveloped in the later 1870s as the New Club, of greater height than St Albans House. The New Club was redeveloped in 1938 as the locally listed Astra House.

The actual auditorium where the “first film show in the UK outside London was held” in 1896 is not within the original building of 132 but behind it in the area outlined in blue on the location and block plans, outside the area of the application. The auditorium is preserved among, as the Design and Access Statement says, the “industrially styled warehouse roofed buildings (Formally [sic] a dance hall or theatre”. The cinema was mainly used as a theatre from 1955.

The Heritage Statement claims that “Following the closure [of the cinema] the building started its adaptation into residential use on all floors above the Art Deco style projecting first floor level”. Residential use of all the upper floors, including the first, appears in fact to have been continuous. The as-existing plans indicate that the original domestic configuration of all the upper storeys has remained substantially intact.

The inter-war excrescence on the first floor was designed for residential use, with multi-pane timber sash windows. To describe its current utilitarian appearance as Art Deco style requires a considerable stretch of the imagination.

The central Brighton seafront has long been characterised by abrupt variations in height, evidence of its historical development. The modest scale of Belle Vue, built during the uncertainties of the French Revolutionary Wars, contrasts with the ambition of St Albans House, built in the peaceful years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. 132 and 133 were originally brick faced but were modernised with stucco to match St Albans. A century later, Astra House was characteristic of the inter-war development of Brighton and Hove.

Two additional residential units would be a paltry public benefit for the damage to the City’s heritage from doubling the height of a currently unlisted building of merit in a conservation area which forms part if the setting of Grade II and II* listed buildings.

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

Big changes for Brighton Girls

“Brighton Girls” is the new name for what many will know as the Girls High School in Montpelier Road.  It is not only the name that is changing: a planning application is currently being considered which, if approved, will enable some notable changes to the site.

The most significant is probably the move of girls in the Pre-Prep and Prep Schools to the main site from their current premises in Radinden Manor Road.  The sports ground is expected to stay at Radinden Manor Road.  We don’t know the future plans for the buildings there.

Other changes will remove parking from in front of the Temple (Grade II listed), the original house built by Thomas Read Kemp (creator of Kemp Town), who lived there for several years from 1819.  The main gates leading to the front door of the Temple will become pedestrian only.

The application also covers the introduction of substantial areas of new landscaping and biodiversity enhancements.

The Society welcomes these proposed developments. Click here to read the full comments we have submitted to the Council.

Comment on Brighton Girls Application

A better-looking gap

At the point where Denmark Villas becomes Cromwell Road there are two large 19th century houses, typical of the area. Neither is a particularly well-preserved example of their type. However, the street-scene is much more degraded by the ugly gap between them, currently occupied by a garage and two parking bays.

The proposal is to demolish the garage and replace it with a tightly planned, two-bedroom house with lower and ground floors. It has been designed to appear to be a service wing to 58 Denmark Villas, to its left.

The result would be a distinct improvement both visually and in terms of the use of space.  We are supporting it.

What about the Walkers?

46-50 Kings Road is a restaurant on the seafront just east of the junction with Middle Street. Like many businesses in the area it has outdoor seating, which, in this case takes up more than half the footway. To make matters worse, two on-pavement parking bays have been created alongside.  The result is a very narrow section of a busy footway.

Our attention was drawn to this slap in the face for pedestrians by a planning application to allow for glazed screening around the restaurant’s outdoor seating. We have no objection to the screening, but we believe that the parking bays should be removed to increase space for pedestrians.  So, we are objecting to the application, arguing that it should only be allowed if the parking bays are removed.

Denman Month

We seem to be focussing very much this month on the Denman family’s architectural contributions to our city.  David Robson is presenting two talks on the subject, meanwhile the Planning Forum has been looking at proposed changes to one of John Leopold Denman’s major buildings in central Brighton.

It is the Grade II listed, “Allied Irish Bank”, located in Marlborough Place. It first opened its doors as the Citizens’ Permanent Building Society in the 1930s.  The proposal now is to create three new apartments within the building, in addition to two which were approved in 2020.

No changes are proposed to the street elevation. The changes to the rear elevation will, with one exception, improve the building’s appearance. The exception is the introduction of an extract duct across the flat roofs from the ground floor restaurant. This duct has been assessed for predicted noise generation by the applicant and found to be satisfactory for a city centre site.  The removal of the existing metal fire escape and some of the cooling units is welcomed.

The ground floor use will be changed to a “restaurant”, but this will not require planning permission since it comes with the same use class as the previous bank.

If you look closely you will see a stone relief carving of John Leopold Denman in one of the arches of the street elevation.

We welcome the ‘recycling’ of this fine building.

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

UPVC or not UPVC?

23-30 High Street, Kemptown was built in 1910 by the prominent and versatile Brighton architects Clayton and Black in the Arts and Crafts style. It is of particular interest as an early example of Brighton Corporation Housing. It is Grade II listed and in the East Cliff Conservation Area.

The application is for the replacement of the UPVC windows on the upper floors of the front elevation in timber, as originally, and replacement of all UPVC windows on the rear elevation with new UPVC windows.

The three-light windows on the first and second floors of No 23 provide the model for the proposed replacement of the UPVC windows on the front elevation. They are replacements of UPVC windows which were out of keeping with the rest, having top lights to some of the casements. Their design was based on comparison with surviving original windows in nearby buildings by Clayton and Black.

The rear elevation to Dorset Place is itself of significance to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area. The existing top or bottom-hinged opening lights without glazing bars have introduced a degree of blandness and horizontality to the elevation which is detrimental to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area.

The proposed replacement of the windows on the front elevation is welcome, subject to approval of the details. The rear elevation is visible from Dorset Place and the replacement windows should be in keeping with the timber originals.

To have simply commented on this application would not be a sufficient expression of opposition to the proposals as they affect the rear elevation and so we have objected.

 

 

A rabbit hole on the roof

Before part 1 of the City Plan was approved back in 2016, the planning inspector who was reviewing it said that that the city would need to “look down every rabbit hole” to find space for more homes. A developer has found one such opportunity at Thompson Road in Hollingbury.

The proposal relates to an existing block of 28 two-bedroom flats. The plan is to erect an additional storey on the building to create 12 new flats, 8 one-bed and 4 two-bed. The development would also provide balconies for the existing second and third floors.

The site is on the side of the Lewes Road valley. It falls away fairly steeply towards the railway line. As a result, the impact on the houses opposite is minimised.

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

The site of the former East Brighton Brighton gasworks has been blighted since it was bombed in 1943. The land is contaminated and therefore potentially costly to develop. It has become something of an eyesore (see photos of its current state at the bottom of this page). We would welcome a proposal to transform it - especially for much need affordable housing and as a focal point for the local area. A developer has come forward with a proposal but we are unhappy with it. Here's why.

The story so far

Last Autumn, developer St William consulted us about their ideas for the gasworks site. Their initial proposal was for a development including 600 - 700 homes in a densely packed high rise development. We were not happy with this. After all, in the City Plan, this site is earmarked for just 87 dwellings. This is also not an area designated by the council as appropriate for tall buildings.

The proposal would be out of scale with the area and significant overdevelopment. We feel that any development on this site needs to be sympathetic to the immediate mixed environment and add value to the local community. Read our initial thoughts here.

Revised plans

St William have now produced a revised plan (read about it here).  We welcome some minor improvements, but little has changed from the first version. We are still not happy with it.

Too dense, too high, and out of keeping with the local area

We don’t think the current masterplan addresses the fundamental flaws we pointed out in our comments on the previous version.Minor improvements including treatment of Boundary Road and an improved northern entry to the ‘Green Link’ are welcome.

It is still as dense as the previous version. Despite a few perfunctory changes, the buildings are still too high. We think the illustrations are deceptive. The apparent size of the buildings in comparison to others in the neighbourhood is misleading horizontally and vertically. There is an impression of relaxed spaciousness and sunlight between the buildings. The reality will be overshadowing for much of the day by the crowded, high buildings in most spaces, and wind tunnels through the long corridors in this exposed area.

Claims are made in the proposal that the design of some buildings reflects local heritage. We are not convinced by this. This matters as this site is close to the Kemptown Estate.

We also believe that the cost of decontamination (claimed as the reason for the proposed excessive height and density) should be factored into the premium paid for the site, and not recovered through overdevelopment.

Read our detailed response to the design issues here.

Campaigning together with other groups

There is considerable strength of feeling about this proposal amongst amenity groups throughout the city and other organisations with a direct interest in this site. We’ve joined forces with them in issuing an open statement which welcomes housing on the site as long as a significant amount of it is affordable and any development is sustainable. The joint statement also opposes the overdevelopment and tall buildings in this location, and urges a safe and healthy outcome for this site.

Want to have your say?

The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Council for planning permission. There is still time to let the developer know your thoughts. The consultation is short: the deadline is 5 March. Use this link to tell St William what you think. 

Images of the site now

Boundary Road now and as proposed

Pictures from St William publications and by John and Mary McKean

Dolphin Reprieve?

 

If you have a long memory you may remember the dolphins being removed from the base of the fountain in Steine Gardens. It happened in 1995 when the current occupants were installed in their place. Since then, the old ones have been in storage.

Until now, when a community group, working with sculptor Steve Geliot are proposing to re-locate them to the north end of Norfolk Square.

Planning permission is required. The proposed location is on the busy footway on the south side of Western Road, immediately opposite the entrance to Norfolk Square garden.

The Regency Society fully supports the principle of re-using the original dolphins in this way. However, we are not convinced that the proposed location is appropriate. It is in the centre of a busy footway and close to a bus shelter.

The proposed statue will not block the pedestrian route, but it is likely to create congestion, particularly if passers-by stop to stroke the attractive creatures, as the sculptor hopes they will.

Regretfully, we have asked the Planning Committee to refuse the application as it stands. We hope that a more suitable location can be found nearby, for example on the grass at the bottom of the steps into the garden.

 

Madeira Drive Brighton, or is it International Drive Orlando?

There was a time when Madeira Drive was a pleasant place to stroll, with almost uninterrupted sea views.  Now, it is becoming increasingly developed, from the catering plaza by the Zip Wire to the already approved rope climbing feature shown in the illustration.

A new planning application has been submitted proposing a raised seating area for the nearby café. Why raised? Because the plan is to build over the nearby Volks Railway line.

The application contains many fine words, including a claim that the structure will improve the setting of the listed Madeira Arches opposite, but it fails to convince.

Our view is that the raised seating area will not enhance the setting of the listed arches. It will simply add to the growing clutter along the beach-front. We are also concerned about the risk of damage to the rail line or the vehicles running along it, if anything falls or is thrown from above.

For these reasons we hope the application will be refused.

 

Doing it the right way

Number 45 North Gardens is an unlisted mid-19th century terraced house in the West Hill conservation area. A proposal has been submitted for removal of the existing bowed bay window and various other alterations.

Next door, the front elevation of number 46 is pretty much as it was originally designed;  so it has been taken as a model for the changes to number 45.

All the moulded window surrounds and stone sills would be reinstated. The windows will be replaced with timber multi-pane double-hung sashes. The front door will be set back in its original position and the fanlight reinstated. Alterations are also proposed to the rear elevation, some involving the use of UPVC, “but in a style and pattern to match the originals”.

The alterations proposed for the front will be substantially beneficial to the character of the conservation area. Those to the rear are, on balance, beneficial; the local Article 4 Direction allows UPVC for rear elevations.

We welcome this application and hope it will be approved. To quote the excellent Heritage, Design and Access Statement that accompanies the application, “It is refreshing to see a homeowner willing to reinstate the proportions and character of their home, rather than just replace the joinery within the inappropriate openings".

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.

Might the derelict space in Church Street finally be built on?

This site is on the corner of Church Street and Portland Street in the North Laine Conservation Area. It has been vacant and derelict for longer than many of us can remember. There have been successful planning applications, but, as yet, no development has started.

This month we looked at yet another proposal for the site, a four-storey office building with cycle parking and some landscaping which would provide 3,625 m2 of office space and an exhibition space. Opinions within the Planning Forum differed with some thinking there was no reason to object and welcoming the chance to develop the site. Others meanwhile expressed concerns about the impact on the conservation area and the Grade II listed building opposite (the former drill hall).

 

A cut down cul de sac?

A much smaller application, also in Church Street relates to a short cul-de-sac called Mount Zion Place. It is located just north of St Nicholas’s Church.  The proposal is to close off part of the cul-de-sac in order to increase the size of the neighbouring private garden.

The cul-de- sac forms the entrance to a rather narrow footpath which provides a useful pedestrian link between Church Street and Centurion Road.  Because it is narrow and runs between high hedges and fences, the footway can feel rather uninviting, though it is well-used. The proposed development will make it look even less inviting.

We have decided to submit an objection on the grounds of loss of public space and reduced public amenity.

 

Extend the Zip Wire?

Well, not exactly extending the wire! There is an application to extend for a further 12 months the temporary permission for the catering and leisure structures on Madeira Drive.  The Council’s heritage team has pointed out that the appearance of the temporary structures needs to be improved. They have also drawn attention to essential works needed at beach level to the projecting canopy plinth and supporting structures.  We agree and hope that an extension of permission will be granted on those conditions.

 

A doorway in the Lanes: calming the columns

Nile House is an office block with retail and catering outlets on the ground floor, built in 1989 in the then fashionable, post-modern style.

The main entrance, midway along the Nile Street frontage, is in a somewhat incongruous “Edwardian Baroque” style, with alternate courses of the paired flanking columns being square blocks; there is a a rusticated inner archway with frameless swinging glass doors to the draughty lobby.

The proposal is to simplify the columns to match those to either side, to remove the archway and to install energy efficient sliding glass doors. The porch would be flanked by planters between the columns.

We don’t believe that this would be detrimental to the character of the conservation area, even if it could be seen in full elevation. Nile Street is actually so narrow that the alteration will only be seen close-up or at an acute angle.

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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.