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Feature image above - front of listed workhouse, with boundary wall

We have strongly supported the designation as a conservation area of the parts of the Brighton General Hospital once occupied as the Brighton Workhouse. This is a major heritage asset for the City of Brighton and Hove, of great social value and of national importance as the most complete surviving workhouse complex in the country.

The site is of special interest not only for the almost complete preservation of the major workhouse buildings, including the former Infirmary and Lunatic Ward, but also of many of the ancillary buildings without which it could not have operated. The extensive survival of the division into distinct functional areas, and of the separation between men and women inmates, is of particular significance. The social interest as a former workhouse is complemented by its use during the First World War as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers.

The workhouse site already enjoys considerable protection. The main building (Arundel) is Grade II listed. Its curtilage, for which listed building consent would be required for demolition or harmful alterations of historic structures, logically comprises the whole of the original 1860s site, bounded by Elm Grove, Freshfield Road, Pankhurst Avenue and the service road across the middle of the site. Development within this area would affect the setting of the listed building, as could development within the 1880-90s extension of the workhouse to the west of the service road.

Designation of a conservation area including both workhouse areas would protect historic buildings in the extension against unjustified external alteration or demolition. All development, whether it affected the setting of the listed building or not, could affect the special interest and character of the conservation area, as could development in the remainder of the hospital site, including the ambulance station.

The process of designating a conservation area, like listing a historic building, starts with the appraisal of its architectural, historic and societal value. The value placed upon a historic asset by the local community is a material consideration for appraisal and designation. Their aspirations for future ownership and uses and considerations of development economics, energy efficiency and carbon emissions are not material at this point. These come into play with the production of a master plan for the whole site and with applications for planning permission and listed building consent.

To ensure the most beneficial use of the site it should be treated as a single entity, with a master plan, and not be disposed of piecemeal. We shall seek to ensure that there is proper public consultation at all appropriate stages, before and after disposal.


The Regency Society would value your comments on this. You will receive a reply.

Ellen Street development: we've been here before

If you go down the steps by the pub at Hove Station, you come to the site for a likely and very large development between Ellen Street and Conway Street, one of Hove’s less attractive corners.

The plan is for a major new building of varying heights up to 18 storeys. providing commercial space plus 216 new “build to rent” flats. The development is being called “Hove Gardens”, presumably to reflect the provision of two large roof terraces at first floor level.

This is not the first attempt to create “Hove Gardens” on this site. Back in 2016 an application was submitted for a new building with 186 flats plus some office and retail space. This well-designed scheme was refused by the Planning Committee on the grounds that it did not offer enough affordable housing. In 2019 that decision was overturned on appeal. While there is always disappointment at the lack of affordable housing in new developments, this outcome had a good side to it - the attractive design could go ahead

However, the site was then sold and the new owner decided not to build the approved scheme. Instead they have submitted this one.

While the Regency Society fully supports the principle of a large-scale, mixed use development on this site, we are disappointed by the proposed design and further by a complete lack of affordable housing.

You can read our full comments here.


Heads up on possible city centre housing sites

The Brighton and Hove city plan recognises the need for significant amounts of new housing to be developed. Much of this need will be met by large scale developments such as those currently underway at Circus Street and Lewes Road.  However some contribution will come from smaller schemes. We have looked at two such schemes recently.

One application is for outline permission for 9 new houses at Sussex Place, just north of the Circus Street development. This former industrial site already has permission for a block of flats.  We believe that the new proposal will result in a much better use of the site but we will look closely at the full details when an application is made for full planning permission.

Meanwhile, not far away is another small scheme being suggested in the North Laine Conservation Area. It is on a vacant plot towards the eastern end of Gloucester Road currently used for parking. If this scheme gets the go-ahead it will not only provide new homes but may also protect the conservation area against the visual impact of the large new building on the site of the former Astoria Theatre in Gloucester Place.


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


Nicola Turner Inman, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts (Projects) at Royal Collection Trust unpacks, literally and metaphorically, the treasures.

With little time to spare the stunning overdoors at the far end of the Banqueting Hall were freshly in place for the Regency Society to enjoy while sipping wine after the Antony Dale lecture (photo above).

As you will know many of the original contents of the Pavilion were removed by Queen Victoria when she set up the family home elsewhere, but, over time, many items were returned. However, not all.  Those on display now are on loan from the East Room of Buckingham Palace while it undergoes reservicing.  They are George IV's acquisitions and commissions for his Brighton pleasure palace.

Nicola took us on a lively tour through the history of the Royal Collection and George IV's eye for stunning design of eclectic influence.  Apparenty the King took advantage of the breakup of the French aristocratic collection thus bringing together his passion for French decorative art and the orient.

The six porcelain pagodas share the side walls of the Music Room as he intended. The Orleans jars, Chinese porcelain, with French bronze gilded bases altered in England to be gas lamps, stand in the front corners of the room. The gilded clock and Chinese porcelain candelabras on the fireplace mantel further embellish the room.  Other rooms have also benefitted from the loan and no doubt deserve a visit. It is said that the Royal Pavilion looks more magnificent than it has ever done since the reign of George IV.

We are told that it is the Queen's generosity that has enabled this exhibition. Nicola has been winning messenger.

Photos: Robert Ashby, John McKean, Kate Ormond

Big changes are planned on the campus of Sussex University.

Five existing residential buildings will be demolished, together with a health centre.  This will result in a loss of 852 student bed spaces. On the other hand, new buildings are proposed in their place which will make more intense use of the site  and provide 1,921 new bed spaces, a new health and wellbeing centre and a new library.

The buildings which will be demolished pay homage to Sir Basil Spence’s design for the university’s first buildings, such as the Grade I listed Falmer House. However, they were probably not designed by Spence and are certainly not listed. Nor are they located near his original building. They are tucked away in the north west corner of the campus amidst a range of differing designs that have been used for more recently built student housing.

The Regency Society has no objection in principle to the demolition. However, we are disappointed by the somewhat unimaginative designs for their replacements.

The new library is seen as the focal point for the re-development. Its circular shape is justified by architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley with the argument that a circle “can represent the notions of totality, wholeness, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement …”. Well, it is a university!

At a more mundane level, we welcome the University’s attempt to follow the City Plan by housing more of its students on campus. Hopefully this will help to ease the growing pressure on housing in central areas of the city, and to reduce the much-disliked phenomenon of “studentification”.  We also welcome the scheme’s efforts to minimise the loss of existing trees and to include considerable amounts of new landscaping.

To learn more about the plans, click here.

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society 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 application was withdrawn. We wonder why.

At one time the original small buildings on the west side of Rock Place provided services to the large houses in New Stein. It may be that the east side (the site of this application) functioned similarly but in neither case does this relationship still exist.  The buildings in question are presently a run-down car workshop and a showroom. Current vehicular access to Rock Place is not restricted so both sides of the road are lined with vehicles. Yet to the south, the street reaches the seafront.

The submitted design for that stretch of buildings was low key as is appropriate for a street of little defining character while simultaneously maintaining the scale and shapes of the original building that would remain. Dormers have been added to create a second floor which brings the roof height up to that of the buildings on either side of the site. As well, an absence of seemingly permanent cars could create a street deserving of its proximity to the seafront.

For this reason and taking into consideration the few original features that would be lost, the Regency Society had agreed to support this application to provide new mixed use co-working space with five residential units located on the top floor. The scheme seeks to invest in the local community providing an office environment for up to 120 people who will in turn give back to the local community through new business brought into the area and recreational use of the local cafes, bars and shops.

There was some opposition to the scheme because of the loss of the original 18th century stabling with a tiled roof, which was said to enhance East Cliff Conservation area.  Our Members felt that this was not an adequate reason for refusal and that the benefits of the proposed scheme outweighed any impact on the character of the conservation area.

Emerging Amsterdam-based firm krft, co-founded in 2015 by Oscar Vos and Thomas Dieben, won an international competition to design a performance arts centre at the college.

The college asked for a 3,000m² mixed-use educational building in which all performing arts would take place, with a 400-seat theatre hall as the heart of the building. The site is small, in between the listed Gilbert Scott-designed Main Building and the new Sports & Science building by OMA.

In response, krft moved the theatre hall upwards, floating above a multi-oriented foyer space, making connections to all outdoor spaces surrounding the site and creating a pivot point for all movement around the campus while avoiding any possible ‘backsides’ of the building.

The upper picture was Eric Parry’s proposal a decade ago for a new theatre to the right of his Music School which was then built, and was memorably the location of a Regency Society meeting. 

In the lower picture the theatre will sit to the right of Parry’s Music School. Further to the right is the completed Sports & Science Building by OMA which we will be visiting in February.





If you take a bus from the station heading north or west you will know the stop on the north end of Surrey Street.  It's an attractive street of small traditional terraced houses on the edge of the West Hill Conservation Area. But you may not be aware of the vacant 'private shop' halfway along covered in metal security roller shutters. The entire building is run down and detracts significantly from the street scene and conservation area.

However, the proposed development seeks to remove the ground floor shop window and doorway and the first floor bay and reinstate the characteristic Surrey Street shallow curved front to match the neighbouring properties. The plan offers living/dining area, kitchen and WC. Upstairs two bedrooms and a bathroom fit nicely. The front wall, path and garden area will be finished in keeping with the nearby houses.

Regency Society comment on 11 Surrey Street

In the late 19th early 20th century many of the residential properties in Surrey Street were converted into shops (local street directories).  Very few are left.  They must have been given permission to convert back to private residences.  The former sex shop front now looks much like a tooth removed from a pleasant smile.  The missing wall is also an unseemly gap in an otherwise varied but coherent run of front walls.  The paving in front of the shop seems to be Edwardian, not Victorian and so is very much out of keeping with the other house fronts.  The reinstatement of a small garden is ecologically sound and would prevent any possibility of the space being used for car parking.  Surrey Street is in constant evolution - right from the time when the city council itself demolished 5 building at the north end of the street as late as 1934.  This will make a fine family home – but who would want to live in a fish-bowl with a huge, energy-wasting shop window in the lounge?  The Regency Society would like to support this application.


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

(double click to enlarge photographs)

Sussex Cricket is the world's oldest first class cricket club and has been at the County Ground in Hove since 1872 when the Pavilion was constructed. It has been altered in various ways over the years but the plan now is for a four phase development that will improve the look and experience both inside and outside the ground.  The application under consideration seeks full planning permission for phases 1 and 2 and outline permission for phases 3 and 4.

The most visible change to the neighbourhood will be in phase 1 with the demolition of the existing public house, a single dwelling and a single storey commercial building in order to build a tall mixed use block for 40 residential units, parking on the ground floor and in the basement, commercial units and a pub/restaurant.

Phase 2 will provide, on the ground floor, a new entrance and shop linked to the existing cafe, access to the new hospitality spaces and improved toilet facilities. Additional seating will be provided on the upper two floors along with hospitality spaces and a roof terrace.

The architectural form and character of the development and the proposed materials are intended to strongly reflect the style and materials traditionally used within the local area, but set within a more contemporary and sustainable context.


The Regency Society has submitted the following:

The Regency Society supports the full planning application for the re-development of the Sussex Cricketer Pub.

We regret the lack of any affordable housing in the scheme. Improving the club’s finances could be seen as a social benefit, but we consider that some social housing should have been included, given that the club already owns the land.

We welcome the fact that the residents of the new building will not be entitled to resident parking permits. We also welcome the provision of 70 cycle spaces.  In terms of public transport, buses stopping very close to the site do not provide a frequent service, but there are frequent services nearby in Church Road.

The design of the building is welcomed.  The stepping back from the 4th floor enhances its appearance. The use of white bricks gives an appropriate appearance.  We are glad that the architect has accepted the Design Panel recommendation that these bricks should be used for both the residential and commercial parts of the scheme.  The flats are of a generous size.

The proposed building will be tall, but there are already several tall buildings nearby; this new one will be slightly higher than the neighboring Ashdown, which seems currently to be the highest.

The new building will be just outside the boundary of the Willett Estate Conservation Area. The view of the new building looking north along Selborne Road is probably the most significant in terms of impact on the conservation area, but not one that should merit refusal of the scheme.

The proposed re-instatement of the original cricket ground gates is welcomed, as is the related landscaping.  The current full application also covers one of the proposed new stands;  we have no comment on this.

To summarise, the Regency Society believes that the size and design of the new residential building are acceptable. While regretting the lack of any affordable housing, we believe that the full planning application should be approved.


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


77 Holland Road is a sensitive site; careless detailing isn't good enough

The application under consideration is to demolish the unsightly Choice Vehicle Rental that has spoiled the otherwise attractive street in Brunswick Town Conservation area with a mixed development of flats, offices and commercial units. It's a sensitive site, adjacent to Palmeira Yard, a grade 2 listed building of distinctive yet eclectic design, said to of the French Second Empire style.  The applicant claims to have been influenced by this and to have responded sensitively. However the Regency Society disagrees with the detailing of the design response and has objected to the application. Our objection is below.

We welcome the removal of an inappropriate use and an appalling eyesore and agree with the proposed mixed use. We accept the proposed block plan.

However, the street elevation is a parody of the adjoining Grade II listed Palmeira Yard, detrimental to its setting and a missed opportunity to conserve and enhance the character of the Brunswick Town Conservation Area.

The glass-fronted balconies are particularly out of keeping. The proposed false mansard roof is a travesty of the true mansards and pavilion roofs of Palmeira Yard. The straight eaves demean the sophisticated swept eaves of the Yard. The flat top is unnecessarily raised to the level of the ridge, not the knee, of the Yard roofs. The partly recessed top floor balconies with their crude flat-topped dormers are an insult, not a compliment, to the elaborate Dutch-gabled dormers of Palmeira Yard.

We would question the assertion that it would not be viable to make a contribution to affordable housing given the value of flats in such a convenient and desirable location.


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

Marlborough House is a grade I listed building facing onto the public open space of the Old Steine within the Valley Gardens conservation area. It is described in the Pevsner Guide to Brighton and Hove as “the finest late C18 house, or rather villa, in Brighton” and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Brighton & Hove. Around 1786 it was enlarged and re-modelled by Robert Adam to its present Neo-Classical style.

To the front of the property is a semi-circular carriage drive together with a bottle-balustraded and rendered boundary wall curving outwards in a shallow segmental shape.  The planning application presently being considered proposes a repositioning of the existing front boundary wall enclosure to its historic location clearly dimensioned on deed plans dated to 1890. The evidence demonstrates that the line of the wall was originally set significantly further out on a deeper curve and the rebuilding of the current non-original wall on this line and would reinstate its original form and would enable a larger garden area.

The Regency Society has had a long interest in this precious building. Just last year we published a Journal entirely about Marlborough House, 'Georgian Brighton's Best', recounting it's whole interesting history.  With this keen eye, the Society has submitted the following objection to one key aspect of this application:

The Society welcomes the removal of car-parking from the forecourt, its return to its original size and the restoration of the enclosing wall to its design before the forecourt was reduced.

However, it objects to the proposed treatment of the centre circle of the forecourt with an irregular pattern of paved areas occupied by seating and tables which is inconsistent with the original or the last uses of the house or the permitted change of use.

The Design and Access Statement makes the highly debatable assertion that “the garden (forecourt) is therefore as significant as the façade itself”. If indeed this were true, any benefit to the significance of the facade from the recovery of the of the original size of the forecourt would be even more outweighed by the detrimental effect of its occupation by random areas of seating, particularly as the design of the original railings cannot be reconstructed.