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Big changes for Brighton Girls

“Brighton Girls” is the new name for what many will know as the Girls High School in Montpelier Road.  It is not only the name that is changing: a planning application is currently being considered which, if approved, will enable some notable changes to the site.

The most significant is probably the move of girls in the Pre-Prep and Prep Schools to the main site from their current premises in Radinden Manor Road.  The sports ground is expected to stay at Radinden Manor Road.  We don’t know the future plans for the buildings there.

Other changes will remove parking from in front of the Temple (Grade II listed), the original house built by Thomas Read Kemp (creator of Kemp Town), who lived there for several years from 1819.  The main gates leading to the front door of the Temple will become pedestrian only.

The application also covers the introduction of substantial areas of new landscaping and biodiversity enhancements.

The Society welcomes these proposed developments. Click here to read the full comments we have submitted to the Council.

Comment on Brighton Girls Application

A better-looking gap

At the point where Denmark Villas becomes Cromwell Road there are two large 19th century houses, typical of the area. Neither is a particularly well-preserved example of their type. However, the street-scene is much more degraded by the ugly gap between them, currently occupied by a garage and two parking bays.

The proposal is to demolish the garage and replace it with a tightly planned, two-bedroom house with lower and ground floors. It has been designed to appear to be a service wing to 58 Denmark Villas, to its left.

The result would be a distinct improvement both visually and in terms of the use of space.  We are supporting it.

What about the Walkers?

46-50 Kings Road is a restaurant on the seafront just east of the junction with Middle Street. Like many businesses in the area it has outdoor seating, which, in this case takes up more than half the footway. To make matters worse, two on-pavement parking bays have been created alongside.  The result is a very narrow section of a busy footway.

Our attention was drawn to this slap in the face for pedestrians by a planning application to allow for glazed screening around the restaurant’s outdoor seating. We have no objection to the screening, but we believe that the parking bays should be removed to increase space for pedestrians.  So, we are objecting to the application, arguing that it should only be allowed if the parking bays are removed.

Denman Month

We seem to be focussing very much this month on the Denman family’s architectural contributions to our city.  David Robson is presenting two talks on the subject, meanwhile the Planning Forum has been looking at proposed changes to one of John Leopold Denman’s major buildings in central Brighton.

It is the Grade II listed, “Allied Irish Bank”, located in Marlborough Place. It first opened its doors as the Citizens’ Permanent Building Society in the 1930s.  The proposal now is to create three new apartments within the building, in addition to two which were approved in 2020.

No changes are proposed to the street elevation. The changes to the rear elevation will, with one exception, improve the building’s appearance. The exception is the introduction of an extract duct across the flat roofs from the ground floor restaurant. This duct has been assessed for predicted noise generation by the applicant and found to be satisfactory for a city centre site.  The removal of the existing metal fire escape and some of the cooling units is welcomed.

The ground floor use will be changed to a “restaurant”, but this will not require planning permission since it comes with the same use class as the previous bank.

If you look closely you will see a stone relief carving of John Leopold Denman in one of the arches of the street elevation.

We welcome the ‘recycling’ of this fine building.

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.

UPVC or not UPVC?

23-30 High Street, Kemptown was built in 1910 by the prominent and versatile Brighton architects Clayton and Black in the Arts and Crafts style. It is of particular interest as an early example of Brighton Corporation Housing. It is Grade II listed and in the East Cliff Conservation Area.

The application is for the replacement of the UPVC windows on the upper floors of the front elevation in timber, as originally, and replacement of all UPVC windows on the rear elevation with new UPVC windows.

The three-light windows on the first and second floors of No 23 provide the model for the proposed replacement of the UPVC windows on the front elevation. They are replacements of UPVC windows which were out of keeping with the rest, having top lights to some of the casements. Their design was based on comparison with surviving original windows in nearby buildings by Clayton and Black.

The rear elevation to Dorset Place is itself of significance to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area. The existing top or bottom-hinged opening lights without glazing bars have introduced a degree of blandness and horizontality to the elevation which is detrimental to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area.

The proposed replacement of the windows on the front elevation is welcome, subject to approval of the details. The rear elevation is visible from Dorset Place and the replacement windows should be in keeping with the timber originals.

To have simply commented on this application would not be a sufficient expression of opposition to the proposals as they affect the rear elevation and so we have objected.



A rabbit hole on the roof

Before part 1 of the City Plan was approved back in 2016, the planning inspector who was reviewing it said that that the city would need to “look down every rabbit hole” to find space for more homes. A developer has found one such opportunity at Thompson Road in Hollingbury.

The proposal relates to an existing block of 28 two-bedroom flats. The plan is to erect an additional storey on the building to create 12 new flats, 8 one-bed and 4 two-bed. The development would also provide balconies for the existing second and third floors.

The site is on the side of the Lewes Road valley. It falls away fairly steeply towards the railway line. As a result, the impact on the houses opposite is minimised.



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.

Dolphin Reprieve?


If you have a long memory you may remember the dolphins being removed from the base of the fountain in Steine Gardens. It happened in 1995 when the current occupants were installed in their place. Since then, the old ones have been in storage.

Until now, when a community group, working with sculptor Steve Geliot are proposing to re-locate them to the north end of Norfolk Square.

Planning permission is required. The proposed location is on the busy footway on the south side of Western Road, immediately opposite the entrance to Norfolk Square garden.

The Regency Society fully supports the principle of re-using the original dolphins in this way. However, we are not convinced that the proposed location is appropriate. It is in the centre of a busy footway and close to a bus shelter.

The proposed statue will not block the pedestrian route, but it is likely to create congestion, particularly if passers-by stop to stroke the attractive creatures, as the sculptor hopes they will.

Regretfully, we have asked the Planning Committee to refuse the application as it stands. We hope that a more suitable location can be found nearby, for example on the grass at the bottom of the steps into the garden.


Madeira Drive Brighton, or is it International Drive Orlando?

There was a time when Madeira Drive was a pleasant place to stroll, with almost uninterrupted sea views.  Now, it is becoming increasingly developed, from the catering plaza by the Zip Wire to the already approved rope climbing feature shown in the illustration.

A new planning application has been submitted proposing a raised seating area for the nearby café. Why raised? Because the plan is to build over the nearby Volks Railway line.

The application contains many fine words, including a claim that the structure will improve the setting of the listed Madeira Arches opposite, but it fails to convince.

Our view is that the raised seating area will not enhance the setting of the listed arches. It will simply add to the growing clutter along the beach-front. We are also concerned about the risk of damage to the rail line or the vehicles running along it, if anything falls or is thrown from above.

For these reasons we hope the application will be refused.


Doing it the right way

Number 45 North Gardens is an unlisted mid-19th century terraced house in the West Hill conservation area. A proposal has been submitted for removal of the existing bowed bay window and various other alterations.

Next door, the front elevation of number 46 is pretty much as it was originally designed;  so it has been taken as a model for the changes to number 45.

All the moulded window surrounds and stone sills would be reinstated. The windows will be replaced with timber multi-pane double-hung sashes. The front door will be set back in its original position and the fanlight reinstated. Alterations are also proposed to the rear elevation, some involving the use of UPVC, “but in a style and pattern to match the originals”.

The alterations proposed for the front will be substantially beneficial to the character of the conservation area. Those to the rear are, on balance, beneficial; the local Article 4 Direction allows UPVC for rear elevations.

We welcome this application and hope it will be approved. To quote the excellent Heritage, Design and Access Statement that accompanies the application, “It is refreshing to see a homeowner willing to reinstate the proportions and character of their home, rather than just replace the joinery within the inappropriate openings".



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.