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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 the application was withdrawn.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.

Our second event of the year was almost as different to the norm as the previous one and was certainly as popular. Alison Minns tells the story.

High vis and high standards

Double click on photo to enlarge

It’s hard to look sartorially elegant in a hard hat teamed with a high vis vest and sensible shoes. It’s hardly a Regency dandy look but stalwart members of the Regency Society who dressed appropriately and who had been prudent enough to put their names down early were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the 200 year old grade 1 listed Brighton Corn Exchange as it undergoes major refurbishment. We felt very privileged as we navigated our way round William Porden’s magnificent building – surely far too elegant a space to house the humble horse.

Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, Andrew Comben admitted there had been many challenges along the way, not least uncovering a Quaker burial ground on the site as well as the original contactors ceasing trading but Andrew was confident another contractor would be appointed within a matter of weeks.

Our tour was led by project architect Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. As Peter explained the background and the details, we marvelled at the newly evident beauty of the building – the exposed curved wooden roof beams (it’s the widest span timber framed building in the UK but needed a little TLC – invisible strengthening bolts and treatment for rot), the unique decorative windows (now restored), the splendid view from the balcony down the full length of the glorious internal space, the Prince Regent’s private balcony (few of us knew of this feature) and a newly created bar area (a modest yet masterful reclaiming of open space). Many striking features are now revealed, having been hidden by ugly accretions over the years. The refurbished Corn Exchange will be a flexible, accessible venue fit for purpose with added rehearsal space, better sight lines (there will be no need for a raised stage), more storage areas, as well as extra bars (and toilets!)

After our tour we gathered at our new meeting place (The Friends Meeting House) to hear a fascinating though slightly more formal talk by Peter Clegg. He covered the history of the building (originally a riding school) and showed examples of his practice’s previous work including the South Bank Centre and Alexandra Palace. He went on to outline plans for, and progress on our very own Brighton Corn Exchange – a building that is surely at the very heart of what the Regency Society values and cherishes. Congratulations to all concerned for their wonderful vision and for their splendid work so far.

Chair Mary McKean spoke briefly but passionately about her enthusiasm for the new look Corn Exchange and mentioned that it is still possible to donate to the project. It’s hoped the building will be opened in around a year’s time. I expect to see many of you there (a celebratory pre-performance glass of wine in the stunning new bar area, perhaps – though on such an occasion not sporting a hard hat and high vis vest)



Moulescoomb, East Street Arcade & Kemptown Estate feature

YMCA seeking to build support housing in Moulescoomb

The proposal is for a three/four storey building for self-contained living spaces as an addition to their 'move on' supported accommodation programme. Thirty dwellings accessed by external galleries and with communal indoor and outdoor amenity space will, if approved, provide affordable housing for up to two-years for each individual to prepare them for independent living.

The Regency Society welcomes this application for much-needed and adequately designed 'move on' housing to encourage eventual independent living.  At the same time, the immediate neighbourhood will benefit from the improved street scene .

Do you know which is East Street Arcade?

Yes, it has an entrance on East Street and also on Market Street and Bartholomews. A visit to Sweaty Betty's or ISC Menswear will land you there.  But soon you may be irresistibly draw in by more contemporary advertising of these entrances with the addition of archways with illuminated canopies and framed light boxes.


Information boards to tell the history of Kemptown Estate

Five free-standing boards that explain the history of Kemptown estate will be placed at Upper Sussex Square, the east and west gates and south aspect of Lewes Crescent and on the Esplanade.


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 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.

Brighton Open Air Theatre wants to improve its facilities

The Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) site is located within the heart of Brighton and Hove in Dyke Road Park on the site of the old bowling green where, since opening in May 2015, it has become a well established part of the City’s cultural landscape.

BOAT is seeking permission to add a small one storey building to provide unisex toilets and an accessible WC, plus a booking office and crew room, with storage rooms on the lower ground floor.  This will supplement the only other small building on the site that is primarily a changing room for actors.

The materials will be grey, both walls and roof, with limited timber siding, thus keeping it's profile low and calm so as to enhance the site without detracting from its near natural outdoor setting.

The space created between the new building and the acoustic sound wall can, with the addition of demountable screens, serve as a more private “backstage” space than is currently afforded.

The Regency Society welcomes this application that is designed to respect the surrounding landscape and work with the contours and levels of the existing site, thus improving the experience for visitors, staff and players.