Old Town Conservation Area Character Statement
The Brighton Old Town Conservation Area includes the medieval fishing town area bounded by North Street, West Street, East Street and the seafront.
The Old Town Conservation Area was first designated in 1973 and extended in 1977. Somewhat surprisingly a Character Statement for the area has never been produced by the council. The Old Town was recently included on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Their reasons include vacant historic landmark buildings, the weight of traffic on Kings Road (which creates a barrier to the seafront) and poorly designed shop fronts.
Brighton Hippodrome Community Interest Company commissioned a Character Statement for the council. This was completed in August 2016 and is currently the subject of public consultation. A Character Statement is important because it draws attention to the area's special architectural and historic interest and identifies issues that contribute to and detract from this. It also helps add to the case for its protection. The Hippodrome is identified as a key building in need of revival to regenerate the whole area. Other important buildings are the Middle Street Synagogue and the Old Ship Hotel. You can read the draft by clicking here.
The Regency Society, a member of the stakeholder group, considers it an excellent piece of work. We do, however, have some concerns regarding the boundary with the adjoining Valley Gardens Conservation Area. We have suggested that it would be more appropriate for the boundary to be realigned so that Marlborough House and buildings fronting the Steine would sit in the Old Town rather than Valley Gardens.
The consultation period ends on 30th November when the council will take into account representations made and formally adopt the Character Statement.
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Images show (from top):
a 1779 map of Brighthelmstone surveyed by Yeakell and Gardner (reproduced with kind permission of the Society of Brighton Print Collectors), and two images from the James Gray Photographic Archive: the Hippodrome seen from Boyce's Street in the 1950s and an early 1920s aerial view of West Street before it was widened.