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The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, 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 trouble with compromise: Sea Lanes tries again

There are many supporters of this scheme for our seafront and it’s not difficult to understand why. It’s appealing in many ways and the changes made in the latest application are indeed improvements. But it’s an unfortunate clash with our hopes for Madeira Arches. Perhaps, in this case, there can be no compromise.

When considering the latest application we reviewed our comments on the first one.  We had objected to it on a number of grounds the main one being the need for a holistic approach on the re-development of Madeira Drive. This matched the position of Historic England.  How would the proposal impact on Madeira Arches both in terms of winning funding to carry out the repairs and the viability and long term enjoyment of the unique and treasured Victorian terrace?  We also considered the viability of the Sea Lanes scheme that left us with questions that, as yet, have no answer.

Interesting it is that both schemes require commercial support, the arches for maintenance and Sea Lanes for financial sustainability.  For Madeira Arches there is an intention to create outlets within some of the arches while still maintaining the covered promenade.  For Sea Lanes it is one and two storey units offering offices, refreshments and shops. What would be the impact of both plans running competitive outlets? Do we want such change a of tone along that bit of seafront that presently provides wide views out to sea, unobscured by buildings and peaceful strolls, removed from the bustle of the pier and the marina?  It’s over development in our minds and there can be no compromise in this case.  Therefore we have again objected to the application.

Unfortunately the application is going to planning committee on 3rd April with a recommendation 'minded to approve'. This is despite Historic England and the Heritage Team opposing it.

Below is the Regency Society's objection submitted to the Planning Department:

“The Regency Society objected to the previous scheme and fully supports the Planning Committee's reasons for refusing it. The revised scheme concentrates on the design and materials for the proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive. It also provides improved views and access ways from the roadway through to the beach.  The pool itself has also been moved a little further north. As a result, the scheme is somewhat better than the previous proposal.

However, it does nothing to address the reasons for which the previous scheme was refused.  The proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive will have an adverse impact on the neighbouring listed buildings and on the character of the conservation area. We believe that there is a serious risk that a scheme of this kind would reduce the Council’s chances of obtaining grant funding for the restoration of the Madeira Arches.”

The annual Anthony Dale lecture was held on 6 March in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion. Exceptionally, refreshment afterwards was served in the Banqueting Room, passing through the splendidly restored Saloon on the way.

The speaker was Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, the public body formed in 2015 by separating out the charity which has kept the brand name of English Heritage. This cares for the over 400 monuments which make up the so-called National Heritage Collection, ranging from Stonehenge to, nearest to home, Bramber Castle.

Historic England makes recommendations for listing historic buildings to the Secretary of State, almost all of which are accepted. Conservation areas are designated by planning authorities.

Listed building consent is granted by planning authorities; Historic England can only advise, though it can and on occasion does appeal to the Secretary of State if it objects. It is also concerned with developments which would adversely affect the setting of listed buildings and/or the character of conservation areas.

Historic England supports change provided any adverse effect on the historic environment is justified by the public benefit. It recognises that appropriate enabling development may be required to overcome the conservation deficit, as at Battersea Power Station.

It also recognises that historic buildings need to be economically viable. It is not enough simply to conserve the fabric of Madeira Terrace, some beneficial use of the arches will be necessary to fund future maintenance.

(with thanks to Alasdair Glass for this summary)

The Society's annual general meeting took place on 3 April 2019 at 7 pm at the Metropolitan College in Pelham Street, Brighton. 

See results of the committee election here.

AGM 2019 - Nominations for committee

There are vacancies for Chairperson, Honorary Secretary and three committee members. An election will take place at the Annual General Meeting on 3 April.

Nomination for Chair:

Mary McKean

nominated by Gavin Henderson

Relevant background and experience

I have wide experience of leading and managing public service organisations, having worked for the British Council and the Cabinet Office at senior levels and also as an advisor on public service management to a wide range of organisations. I enjoy leading teams and stimulating ideas.
I care about Brighton and Hove's built environment and would like to lead the society towards greater influence and impact in all that it does.
I'm currently leading the James Grey Collection New Website Project which has attracted new members and wider public interest in our heritage. If elected it is my intention to continue to lead this to its conclusion.

How the Society would benefit from my appointment as Chair

I've been Chair of the Regency Society from 2011-2013. During this period I led the Regency Society Weekend, which many members may remember. I've also been a trustee for the past three years, leading on our communications work including launching a new website, designing and delivering the Brighton Prints website (, re-launching the journal and developing the role of our monthly updates.

As Chair I would like to lead the Society to achieve greater impact by developing our campaigning work to highlight and celebrate examples of excellent conservation and development work, where these exist, and by demonstrating and promoting them where they do not. We should oppose mediocrity and poor design vigorously and make sure our voice is heard and makes a difference. In my view we need visibility to raise public awareness of these issues.

I would also like to engage members in deciding what we do and delivering results more than we do at present - in our campaigning, events and other activities. Our membership is our greatest asset and I would like to work to strengthen the relationship between the committee and the membership at large. In this I believe that our influence and reach can be extended and strengthened.

Nomination for Honorary Secretary

Roger Hinton

nominated by Selma Montford

Relevant background and experience

My career has been a mixture of administration and teaching.  I started at a small not-for-profit company organising conferences on town planning and transport. Eventually I became company secretary.

I spent six years in an administrative job at Brighton Polytechnic, during which time I qualified as a Chartered Secretary. For two years I was personal assistant to the Polytechnic Director.  This taught me much about the principles of good governance.

I then turned to teaching business and finance at a college in Hammersmith. My final full-time job was with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. I was a trainer and computer manager at the Institute’s training centre in London.

How the society would benefit from my appointment as Honorary Secretary

I have chaired the society for six years, so I know how it operates. My primary job as secretary would be to ensure that it is run as a charity should be. This would include keeping trustees and members fully informed about what the society is doing and why.

I would also like to continue playing a role in the society’s Planning Forum. In 1979 I was a founder member of my local amenity society, from which I gained much experience of planning and conservation. More recently I served for several years as chair of the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group.

Above all, as secretary I would aim to support the new chair in his or her job as leader of this complex and busy organisation.

Nominations for the committee

Dr. Helen Walker

nominated by Delia Forester


Relevant background and experience

Dr Helen Walker is an independent strategic planning consultant with experience of managing regeneration, heritage and urban design projects. Previously she worked in two central government departments, for several local authorities, the Environment Agency and Commission for the Built Environment. A former chair of a university department, she is now Course Leader, MSc Town Planning at the University of Brighton and lectures on built environment programmes with a focus on the local economy, urban planning and design.

Helen is appointed as a Design Council Built Environment Expert, a Building for Life Accredited Assessor and a member of the Civic Trust Awards National Panel. She is a Trustee of Brighton Early Music Festival, Fabrica and QueenSpark Books. She is a member of Brighton and Hove City Council Sustainability Panel.

How the society would benefit from my appointment

I have been elected as an RS trustee for several years. I am currently Vice Chair of the Committee.

Jamie Wright

nominated by Stephen Adutt


Relevant background and experience

Having spent most of my life in Brighton & Lewes and studied architecture in Bath, I have had the privilege to be surrounded and fascinated by some amazing buildings. I have worked within a large practice of architects in the North Laine for the last 12 years and have enjoyed discovering and designing on a wide range of projects. I have gained much as a Regency Society member for the last 11 years, attending the annual lecture series and study trips. I have recently completed a two year part time MSc course in Building Conservation at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, writing my thesis about Horsh- am stone slate. I am keen to safeguard our historic buildings in the City's exciting future, encouraging the very best new architecture.

How the society would benefit from my appointment

Six years ago I was elected as a trustee of the society. As well as attending meetings and learning to work on the committee of a local amenity group, I have been given the responsibility of helping to organise the annual season of lectures. My understanding of Brighton and Hove's historic buildings has been furthered by participating in regular planning forum meetings. Being 'slightly' under the average age of the Regency Society membership I would like to encourage more young blood to the fold. Building on the advances made recently within the society I think it would be great fun to have a number of more informal events throughout the city to complement the arleady fantastic calendar. I am keen to help create more opportunities for the membership to contribute ‘their say’ towards the society’s views and direction.

Our lecture in February was appreciated for its demonstration of how a local authority architect (when we had them), could, with a social, moral and fine design approach to spaces and buildings, nurture inclusivity and create community. Kate Macintosh's excellent lecture was recorded. We need to be reminded of its lessons. Listen again.


The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, 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 Old Ship Hotel changes with the times

Big changes are planned for the Old Ship Hotel.  It is the oldest hotel in Brighton, first recorded as such in 1665.  The assembly rooms, well known for hosting a Niccola Paganini concert in 1831, date from 1767. They were listed grade II* in 1952.

Extensions have been added over the years but this application suggests the grandest yet. The hotel garage in Black Lion Street will be demolished to make way for 54 additional bedrooms.  In Ship Street, the rather dead street frontage is to be reconfigured to provide retail units and the unsightly external fire escape enclosed.

On the front elevation there is to be a single storey mansard roof extension towards the western end of the building. Additionally, out of sight from the street, a swimming pool with a retractable roof is to be installed in the inner courtyard.

The Old Ship did not become the oldest hotel in Brighton without moving with the times. We welcome these improvements and hope that they will help to ensure it continues to play an important part in Brighton’s role as a major seaside resort.

Please read the Society's comment to the council on this application.


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

This month the Regency Society Planning Forum considered just four applications that together propose more than 1800 residential units for the city. This is not a usual cluster of applications but, like buses, they can bunch up.

New housing in the city - is there another way?

Increasingly, objections to new housing schemes target issues like ‘not in keeping with surrounding properties’ and added ‘traffic congestion’.  There’s no question, If the applications under consideration actually get built the city will look very different, something difficult to prevent in an area bound by sea and the South Downs.  There are, however, those who disagree with this conclusion.

The largest is Toad’s Hole Valley suggesting up to 880 low-rise units (40% affordable) plus a secondary school, GP surgery, community centre and workspaces.  This is an outline planning application that seeks to establish whether the proposed development would be acceptable to the local planning authority. If successful, a detailed application is submitted. Please see application here . (You will see around 290 documents. Scroll down to the Design and Access Statements. Tick the two documents. View them using the button to the right of the document.)

Not far behind in number of residential units is a full planning application for the Sackville Trading Estate and Hove Goods Yard.  It offers 604 mostly high-rise apartments, all for rent, and 265 residential apartments with flexible levels of care for elderly people.  The scheme, if agreed, will dramatically alter the scale of the area and create a towering new neighbourhood, not immediately easy to digest and that we may see happening in other parts of the city.  Please see application here . (Scroll down to Design and Access statement Section 1, view and refer to contents page. Choose the aspects of the plan that you're interested in, return to list and select. View using buttons on the right.)

The remaining  units, on two different sites, are being brought forward by a joint venture between Brighton and Hove City Council and Hyde Housing to deliver 1000 affordable homes across the City over the next 5 years or so. These sites will provide 50% shared ownership and 50% affordable rent.

One is on land east of Coldean Lane, above Varley Hall, providing 250 units, many of which are family homes. The scheme provides play space and green areas as well as a path into Stanmer Wood.  Pedestrian refuges and reduced speed limits on Coldean Lane will, it is hoped, make safe crossing the road to access the village and its amenities.  Please see application here.  (Select the one Design and Access statement and view using button on right.)

The other scheme will provide 111 units on a brownfield site in Clarendon Place in Portslade. Measures to encourage a car free life style, such as membership to the city car club, a cycle voucher and a season ticket on city buses, will be offered to early residents.  Please see application here.  (Select all five Design and Access statements and view.)


The Regency Society will not be submitting comments of objection or praise for any of these proposals (although comments on Toad’s Hole Valley may come later). This implies a degree of approval in the context of the priorities facing the city.  Overall we welcome 604 rent-only apartments and 361 affordable homes.



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


Proposed Marina 40 storey tower now down to 28

One of the most controversial planning decisions in Brighton and Hove in recent years was the approval for a 40-storey residential tower in the outer harbour at Brighton Marina. This is the area south of the fitness centre, bowling alley and casino that will be constructed from the seabed.

New plans for the site are currently being prepared which will provide 800 new homes, including a tower of just 28 storeys and underground parking. The developers, Brighton Marina Group, aim to create a “piece of the city” on the waterfront.

The buildings will rise from the level of the walkway along the sea wall enabling a much needed, new pedestrian entrance to the Marina from the beach and Madeira Drive. This flat public pedestrian walkway will link to the existing boardwalk.

The new buildings will be finished in re-constituted stone, rather than brick or render and the landscaped squares designed to withstand the severe climate.

Further details of the designs are to be released for consultation on Wednesday 9thJanuary at the Malmaison Hotel in the Marina, between 4pm and 8pm.




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

Penthouses on flat roofs: what justifies approval or non-approval?

Views from the i360 show us a lot of tall flat roofed housing blocks in the city. At the same time, Brighton knows it can pull into the city, Londoners who can afford to buy the pricey penthouse properties that are increasingly being proposed. Will this become a trend soon to fill the planning department’s pile of building applications? What might be the justifications for approving some and not others? This month the Planning Forum considered two such proposals.


Hove Manor on Hove Street is a 1930s block of flats in Old Hove Conservation area. Its narrow south end is one block from Kingsway near the King Alfred Centre. Presently seven stories, the application proposes an additional storey to create three very large rooftop flats and points out the nearby precedent at Viceroy Lodge that is now eight stories following similar additions. The application shows distant views of the proposal in order to demonstrate the visual impact on the neighbourhood. The intended cladding and fenestration have no relationship to the existing structure as can be seen in the photos below.

The details above have been taken into consideration when making a decision, however the Regency Society has not commented on this application, indicating neither support nor objection.


The Albemarle on Marine Parade is a 1970 mixed-use block of eight storeys with ground level parking, a bar, restaurant and nightclub on the first floor and 36 flats on the top six levels. The existing roof has a single storey lift motor room. It sits on a prominent site on the Brighton seafront near the pier. The proposal is to create four 2-bedroom 2-level apartments on the roof.  The two level units are intended to mask the existing protruding lift machinery as the lift will serve only the lower floor of the new units.

The application states that in design terms the existing building is bland to all elevations, its proportions are crude giving it a monolithic and heavy appearance, and  it contributes little to its local setting. The intention of the proposal is to transform the building “to create a landmark building worthy of its setting”.

As with Hove Manor the roof apartments are set back and the cladding and fenestration have no relationship to the existing structure.

The Regency Society has objected to this proposal on the grounds that this building is already too high in relation to its neighbours and the proposal for two extra floors will make its impact even more inappropriate, thus failing in its attempt  “to create a landmark building worthy of its setting”

Please see our submitted objection below.

The Regency Society objects to this proposal. The application states that the plan aims to transform a dull building into one “worthy of its setting”. The existing height and bland appearance of The Albemarle offers a visually discouraging impact on the seafront architecture of Marine Parade. Already out-of-keeping with its surrounds the proposal now seeks to extend that incompatibility by adding an additional two stories that relate in design to nothing that respects the style of the area. Furthermore, an unwelcome precedent may be set and penthouses on the Brighton seafront will not contribute to the housing crisis. This proposal fails in its attempt to transform the building to become an asset within the townscape.


Massive builds changing Davigdor Road

This application is for a significant site on Davigdor Road along the stretch westward from the Montefiore Hospital, Preece House and the new Artisan apartments. Presently, between the latter two, is a relatively small building overwhelmed by its neighbours.

The proposal is to provide enlarged office space for IMEX, presently on Ellen Street in Hove, and additional housing above, all within a part 5 storey, part 9 storey building with underground parking.

The application states, “The vision for this development is to relate and compliment the local environment, (by) complimenting the recently constructed Artisan block with another clean and crisp building that has its own distinct identity.”

The Regency Society opposes this application for its failure to respond sensitively to the surrounding architecture. The tower will appear higher than its drawings suggest; the slope on the east side, apparently driven by an attempt to comply with a covenant around light, is incompatible with the overall design; and the massing is inelegant, creating a structure that risks dominating what is already there. Furthermore, for all that bulk, the affordable housing element is only 18%.





The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, 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 Planning Forum looked at two significant applications in September, both just north of North Laine conservation area and each with a potentially dramatic impact on the physical environment of the area. The Regency Society is generally supportive of both albeit with comments on improving some details of each.

And, as the last entry you will see the society's submitted objection to Sea Lanes, the scheme presented in the August Planning Forum page.

Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, Pelham Street, Brighton

This is a hybrid planning application seeking full planning permission for redevelopment of the existing college site (Site A, west side of Pelham Street) and outline permission for demolition of college-owned buildings on the east side of Pelham Street (site B, former York Place elementary schools) for housing.  Site B borders Valley Gardens conservation area to the west and North Laine conservation area to the south.

Site A - the existing Pelham Tower and college car park

The College seeks to enhance the interior of the existing 11 storey Pelham Tower and increase teaching space by building two three storey extensions adjoining the tower and into the existing car park.  A large portion of the car park will given over to landscaped open space, with cycle and some disabled parking.  Vehicular access will change. Present car park users will have to find alternate parking. The Regency Society had no major objections to this part of the application but suggested that greater attention be given to maximise improvement of the public realm.

Site B - east side of Pelham Street

Outline planning permission is sought to demolish the existing buildings to create up to 35 residential units in blocks, some of which may be up to 6 storeys.

The Regency Society noted  that this scheme offers no affordable housing on the grounds that all of the surplus generated by the housing element was needed to finance the re-furbishment of the tower and the new courtyard development on the car-park. Although this is disappointing it was recognised that, unlike most housing schemes, this one is designed specifically to enable improvements to the educational facilities provided by a public sector college and so the 0% affordable housing was, arguably, justifiable.

The society proposed that the college should be asked to look again at the viability of providing at least some affordable housing, taking into account not only the sites under consideration but also all of the college’s other properties elsewhere. 
Alternatively, or additionally, consideration could be given to allowing taller residential development on the east side of Pelham Street.

Longley Industrial Estate, New England Street & Elder Place, Brighton

This application forms a part of a larger masterplan for the whole of the area north from and including New England House to New England Road with east and west boundaries at Elder Street and New England Street.

The application site is presently a two storey block that would be demolished for a dense mixed use development for offices (3,333sqm), retail (308sqm), 208 residential units in blocks ranging from 3 to 18 storeys and landscaped open space that is intended to create pedestrian crossways to connect the surrounding areas to one another and to London Road.  Elder Place will be widened and landscaped for both car and pedestrian use. Although there is some underground car parking it is likely that the residential units will not have parking, in line with other developments in the New England Quarter. We understand that delivery bays and drop-off points will be provided so that additional traffic congestion will be minimal.

It was agreed that the building was appropriate for a brownfield site close to the main transport hub and the New England Quarter development.  There was no objection to the configuration or massing of the building though the height of the tallest block was noted as a possible concern.

However, it was agreed that the design was disappointing. Comparison was made with the Hove's Ellen Street scheme (currently subject of an appeal) which, like this proposal involves a series of  blocks of differing height and design, but with greater distinction between them that has the effect of softening the impact of the mass. Similarly, the residential elements of the Preston barracks site development were offered for comparison. (Both of these examples can be seen in the photos above.) It was agreed therefore that the proposed Longley site building, as currently designed, would represent a missed opportunity to create an architecturally beneficial addition to the area in need of significant upgrade and identity and should therefore be subject to a design review.

It was also agreed that the possible uses of the s.106 contributions which would result should be allocated after a meaningful consultation with the local community.

The masterplan, which does not form part of the application, suggests over-development of the area. Consultation is presently taking place on plans for Vantage Point with an application likely to be submitted late in this year or so. The Regency Society will continue to review the applications and record comments on this Planning Forum page of the website.

Sea Lanes (former Peter Pan playground site), Madeira Drive, Brighton: RS submission to the council

The Regency Society objects most strongly to granting this application, even temporarily.

Removing the dereliction of the former Peter Pan Playground site and providing the proposed pool are both worthwhile objectives. However, it seems implausible that development on the proposed scale could produce a return on investment within five years and cover the operating deficit of the pool and still be able to pay for reinstatement at the end of the term. If the company goes into liquidation, the Council would be landed with the cost of reinstatement.

The proposals are a gross overdevelopment of the site; the actual pool and its associated facilities could easily fit between Madeira Drive and the Volks Railway. A significant part of Madeira Drive would lose its seaward visibility; the few lines of vision through the serried ranks of the hutted encampment are at 45 degrees to the line of Madeira Drive and are no more than the minimum needed for circulation within it. They would become wind funnels in high winds.

The proposals would generate significant extra vehicular traffic and demand for parking on Madeira Drive, when the objective should be to reduce them both.

There is no recognition that Madeira Terrace is a Grade II listed building, so there is no assessment of its significance and of the adverse effect the proposals would have on its setting. There is therefore no way of assessing the supposed public benefits of the proposals against the undoubted harm which would be done to the significance of the listed building. The proposed development would be a completely incongruous neighbour to Madeira Terrace and would cut a substantial length of it off from its key relationship to the sea.

The proposals would have an adverse effect on the setting of all the other listed buildings on Madeira Drive, from the Palace Pier to the west, the only Grade II* seaside pier, to the Banjo Groin to the east. The proposals would also have an adverse effect on the unlisted heritage asset of the Volks Railway and be extremely detrimental to the character of the East Cliff Conservation Area.

The adverse impact on Madeira Terrace would not just be on its significance but upon its future viability. Apart from the competition from the proposal site, nobody will want to sit in a bar or café under the terrace when their view of the sea is blocked by an eyesore. The commercial elements required as enabling development to subsidise the swimming pool would be better placed within Madeira Terrace to fund its repair and future maintenance.

Permitting this egregious proposal could be fatal to hopes of saving Madeira Terrace. Contributors to the crowd-funding campaign would have every reason to feel betrayed, and any future fund-raising campaign would be starting off on the wrong foot. The Heritage Lottery Fund would be given good grounds for declining to support the rescue of Madeira Terrace.