This page is updated regularly with news of our latest activities and concerns. Articles are in chronological order (latest first). To find articles on particular topics go to 'Browse news' (right).
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.
The committee has been considering the Council's proposals to create a new conference and events centre at Black Rock for some time. The Council wants to fund the new centre with a deal involving Standard Life Investments (SLI). This is a complex and far reaching scheme which includes a much enlarged Churchill Square shopping centre. We're calling for much more consultation about it.
We need to know more
Despite its very significant scale, there is little information about this proposal.
Kevin Wilsher reflects on a convivial afternoon in truly British weather
Well, the day started in an unpromising way with sea fret and light drizzle and the organisers got a little damp whilst setting up the event. By opening time, however, the weather had settled into a dry but overcast cool ‘summer’ day.
Following a quick trip to A&E to sort out the caterer’s sliced hand and to get some emergency ice, we were ready to go on time.
Delia Forester reflects on the highly successful 2017 study tour.
When embarking on a trip such as this it is probably best to understand that you must, for a while, abandon your destiny to a higher power. Forget lovely long lie-ins, leisurely breakfasts or lolling about on a lilo with a long gin and tonic. You won’t do much sitting in sunny squares sipping sangria or spritzer either.
The Regency Society has made the following comments on application BH2017/00492 submitted by the University of Brighton in March 2017 for full planning permission for the redevelopment of Preston Barracks and Mithras House Car Park and outline planning permission for redevelopment of the Watts Building Car Park.
Although the proposals are disappointing in some respects, the Society is minded to support them for the following reasons:
- the site has been a derelict eyesore for far too long,
- we welcome the consolidation and expansion of the University of Brighton
- new student housing is sorely needed and will take pressure off conventional housing in the area
- we support the reinforcement of the academic corridor linking the Steine to Falmer
- the development will contribute positively to the economy of the City.
- we have no objection on conservation grounds - the site does not fall within a conservation area and the proposals will not affect any of the City’s heritage assets. (We understand that the surviving Regency Period barracks fall outside of the site boundaries and will remain the property of the M.o.D.)
- Even as they stand the proposals will considerably improve what has become a depressing urban corridor.
- We do not have a problem with the proposed heights of the buildings. The site lies in the bottom of a valley and falls within an area that has been ear-marked for tall buildings (SPGBH15 of 2004). Inevitably the development will be visible from other parts of the City and from various points on the Downs, though we don’t consider that this will necessarily pose a problem. Indeed it could add a point of interest to the City’s profile and act as a marker for the ‘academic corridor’.
(The image above, prepared by David Fisher, shows the 1973 OS map (black) overlaid on an 1877 map (sepia).This shows the earlier square on the site, and access from twittens to North-West, South and South-East which still exist.)
The Regency Society is critical of current proposals to alter Brighton Square as outlined in planning applications BH2017/00762, 00768 & 00797, namely to reclad the facades of the existing shops and associated housing, to amalgamate nos 12-16 Brighton Square to form a single restaurant space, to install an enclosed dining area in the square under a canopy and to raise and thus obscure the existing fountain sculpture.
Why would a coach full of educated and erudite Regency Society members, sophisticated and with excellent taste head up to London to view “[mere] Gothic heaps of stone without form or order [which] meet with contempt from the best and worst tastes alike”?
John Piper's Brighton Aquatints (1939) and their multiple meaning
John Small lecture 2017 given by Dr Alan Powers
(This lecture followed the Regency Society Annual General Meeting)
A month into the Second World War, a remarkable limited edition book was published: Brighton Aquatints by John Piper, a collection of twelve prints, with the artist's commentaries and a foreword by the 1890s relic: Lord Alfred Douglas. It was a book of elegiac memory, a reconceptualisation of the potential of modern art to engage with place and history, and also a muted alarm call regarding threats to the historic fabric of the town.
This rarely-seen book, arguably Piper's finest printmaking effort, is being republished by the Mainstone Press with a contextual and bibliographic commentary by Alan Powers; there will be an accompanying display in Brighton Museum in September 2017.
Dr Alan Powers is an art historian specialising in mid twentieth century British art, architecture and design. He has published widely on this theme, including monographs on Edward Ardizzone (2016), Eric Ravilious (2013) and Serge Chernayeff (2001). He teaches for New York University in London and the London School of Architecture. He teaches a Summer School course for the Courtauld Institute Public Programmes on Emigrés and leads tours for ACE Cultural Tours. Dr Powers is a former Chair of the Twentieth Century Society and is actively involved in the conservation of buildings.
Nick Tyson explains why we should all be worried at the scandalous state of this unique heritage asset, and why the Council and Historic England must intervene
Marlborough House in the Old Steine in Brighton is often referred to as the second most important historic property in the city, after the Royal Pavilion. Built in the 1760s for Sam Shergold, the keeper of the local 'Castle Inn', the House was purchased in the 1780s by William Gerard Hamilton MP and shortly after this became the subject of architectural improvements by the renowned Scottish architect, Robert Adam.
We’ve written before about the Council’s plan to create a new conference and events centre at Black Rock. They intend it to replace the Brighton Centre. We are aware that this has the potential to make major changes in our city and we are keen to know how this is progressing.