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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. 

In our latest meeting we considered the following issues: 

Opening up the backlands

Most people agree that our city needs more homes. Once the discussion turns to where to put them that agreement is likely to evaporate.

There will be no single answer to this question. We must “look down every rabbit hole” as the planning inspector said when commenting on the City Plan. Hopefully she was arguing for a range of solutions, rather than suggesting that green-fields would be the only answer.

The Society has recently looked at two planning applications which both illustrate one such “rabbit hole”, namely backland development. The outer suburbs of Brighton and Hove were originally developed at low densities. Now that we are struggling to find places for new homes, is it perhaps time to use suburban space more intensively?

The first scheme is in Downs Valley Road, Woodingdean. The proposal is to build four new, two-storey houses behind two existing bungalows, literally at the bottom of the gardens. A vehicle entrance will be created between the bungalows so that on-site parking can be provided. Read the planning application here

The second is slightly different: the backland in question already has a building on it. It is a plan for the former Dairy Crest site in the Droveway. The site was first used as a farm around 1800. In the early 20th century it became a dairy, operated latterly by Unigate until it closed a few years ago. It is not nationally listed, but it is included in the Council’s list buildings of local interest. It is surrounded by suburban residential properties.

The current proposal is for a mixed-use development and aims to “retain the character of the existing agricultural buildings. Some employment space will be provided towards the front of the site, with 14 new housing units mainly towards the rear, replacing part of the existing building. Read the planning application here.

What do you think of these attempts to use the suburbs to help solve the housing crisis?

Proposal for Amex house site

We’re not happy with the proposal for the Amex house site – read about our concerns here.

Would you like to comment on this article? The committee, RS members and other site users would be interested to hear your views so we are inviting you to share your thoughts online. If you would like to do so you will need to register first – it only takes a moment and once registered you can log in and comment on other articles on this site in the future. Click here to register. If you have already registered, simply click on ‘you must be logged in’ at the bottom of the page.

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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. 

In our latest meeting we considered the following issue: 

Protecting a gem from the 1930s

An application has been submitted for a penthouse on top of Regent House in Princes Place in central Brighton.

The building was designed in 1933 by John Leopold Denman, architect of many of Brighton’s finest buildings from that period. Denman was also a significant figure in the history of the Regency Society.

It sits in a prominent position on the south side of the Royal Pavilion gardens, behind the Chapel Royal. It is in a neo-Georgian style with irregularly placed Crittall windows and patterned brickwork. Though not listed, it is a fine building of its period and deserves protection.

The proposal would involve adding an extra floor to create a rooftop penthouse, below a mansard with a balcony / terrace around.

The society has objected. Although the new structure would be set back, it will be highly visible from the Royal Pavilion gardens. The large windows are out of sympathy with those below and the glass balustrade above the parapet will further detract from the building’s original design.

You can read our full comments here.

Filling a gap in Oriental Place

Oriental Place is one of the most important surviving set-pieces of Regency Brighton.

It was built in 1825 by Amon Henry Wilds as part of a grandiose scheme to create a glass conservatory, the Athenaeum, on the site of what is now Sillwood House. It consists of two opposing rows of houses each composed as symmetrical palace fronts.

Sadly, this unique piece of townscape has been allowed to fall into disrepair and the facades have been spoiled by unsightly alterations and additions, including external downpipes.

The present application for 33 Oriental Place proposes to add an additional attic floor under a mansard roof. We have not objected since the addition will be similar to those on both neighbouring properties.

We welcome the proposal by the applicant to reinstate the first-floor balconies. However, we have urged the planners to persuade them to carry out repairs to the whole façade and to remove later additions such as the unsightly left hand down pipe and the valance boards to the upper windows.

A gateway to Hove

An application has been made to erect two car wash canopies in front of the grade II listed building, which is located immediately east of the current Hove Station. It was built in 1865 and was known as Cliftonville station. The list entry describes it as “Tuscan villa style” and draws attention to its similarity to the station building at Portslade.

In 1879 the station name was changed to “West Brighton” and the current station building was constructed immediately to the west, it is also listed grade II. The station was renamed again in 1895 to its present name, “Hove”.

The original Cliftonville building still forms part of Hove station. The proposed canopies would obscure views of it and are unsympathetic to its design. They would therefore detract from the special character of the Hove Station Conservation Area which derives principally from the relationship between the station and the surrounding late Victorian buildings.

Hove station is a major entry point for people visiting Hove. The existence of a car wash immediately outside creates entirely the wrong impression. Ideally, we would like to see the business re-located. We have objected to this application which would further degrade the area.

Would you like to comment on this article? The committee, RS members and other site users would be interested to hear your views so we are inviting you to share your thoughts online. If you would like to do so you will need to register first – it only takes a moment and once registered you can log in and comment on other articles on this site in the future. Click here to register. If you have already registered, simply click on ‘you must be logged in’ at the bottom of the page.

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. 

In our latest meeting we considered the following issues: 

The Brighton Astoria story staggers on

The Astoria building in Gloucester Place, Brighton was built in 1933 to a design by  cinema architect, Edward A Stone. Some Georgian and Victorian houses were demolished to make way for it.  It was designed as both a cinema and a theatre but was operated, mainly as a cinema and then a bingo hall, finally closing in 1997.

In 2000 it was listed (Grade II) and the listing statement describes it as “ particularly unusual in its French art deco style”.

Since then various schemes have been proposed to develop it for office or residential use.  In 2011 demolition was approved together with designs for a six-storey business centre to replace it; the architects were the Conran Partnership.  Most recently a residential scheme was approved on appeal.

The planning authority is currently considering an application to modify this approved plan, including significant changes to the external appearance.

The original building has now been empty for over a decade during which time it has had several owners. Its current condition reflects the neglect it has suffered.  Historic England has indicated that it has no objection to demolition nor to this latest plan. The Regency Society shares this view.  It would be good to see the site re-developed to provide much needed homes.

Two contrasting housing schemes

The Regency Society has tried to support housing development in the city to provide much needed homes.  This month we have looked at two small schemes, both in Portslade.

The first is at 33 Mile Oak Road.  This site currently has just one dwelling.  The proposal is to demolish it and build seven new homes.  The plans show a pleasingly “casual” layout of the site and the houses themselves have a mix of interesting designs. We welcome this increase in housing density on the site and hope that the application will be approved.

The second site is in Clarendon Place, off North Street, Portslade.  At present it is an unattractive industrial area.  The plan is to build a terrace of four, three-storey houses and a small office building. The floor plans suggest that three of the four new houses will be very pokey.  This application poses two contrasting questions. On the one hand, is this rather run-down industrial area a suitable place to build new houses?  On the other hand, could a development of this kind kick-start the re-generation of the area?  Regardless of the answers to these questions, we hope the planners will reject the scheme because of the very poor standard of housing that it offers.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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. 

In December 2017 we considered the following issues: 

Brighton Square

Society members may remember our previous thoughts about plans for Brighton Square.

There is now a new proposal for this site – read our latest thoughts here.

Toad’s Hole Valley

Plans for Toads Hole Valley have developed with the arrival of the Congar, the company which has now developed a masterplan. Read or response to this here.

Windsor Street

Conservation areas play an important role in protecting our city’s heritage. Windsor Street is in the North Laine conservation area which is characterised by small buildings, mostly of traditional design. A new application seeks to demolish two such traditional style houses with brickwork in subdued colours and replace them with a much taller, bright red brick building in a 20th century style. The existing buildings are themselves fairly recent, but they are somewhat traditional in design, with just three storeys and wooden sash windows. The replacement is an interesting design in itself but is quite out of keeping with its neighbours to the south. With its five storeys, it will overpower them. For these reasons we are asking the planners to refuse the application on the grounds that it will damage the character of the conservation area.

Surrenden Road

Varndean College are hoping to generate funds by selling off a rough plot of land at the edge of their playing fields. The plan is for ten new houses, designed in a way to avoid offending the neighbours on the other side of the road. The proposed buildings are small and low, thus allowing the neighbours to retain their southerly views across the playing fields. We are opposing this scheme as a missed opportunity. The site is large enough to provide significantly more than just ten new homes. We believe that the new buildings should match those opposite in massing and design ambition, rather than hunkering down in the hope that no one will notice they are there. This could be achieved while still retaining some of the neighbours’ southerly views.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

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. 

In November 2017 we considered the following issues: 

Valley Gardens

Society members may remember that we opposed this scheme because it is unimaginative. It was approved by the Council’s Planning Committee in November. The Planning Forum noted that a late addition to the documents shows the related traffic scheme and suggests that southbound traffic travelling down the east side of the gardens will be forced from two to one lane in each direction for a section in Grand Parade. Although this is not a planning matter, it was agreed that the society should write to Gill Mitchell (lead councillor of transport) to ask what traffic modelling had been done to assess how this would affect traffic flows.

29 – 31 New Church Road

We are concerned the proposal for 63 flats plus a synagogue and community buildings on this one acre site could represent over-development. It will be necessary to see more detailed drawings before adopting a firm view.

It was agreed to write to Morgan Carn supporting the spirit of the scheme while expressing possible concern over the high density. We will ask for an opportunity to see the existing drawings again.

Significant proposals

We discussed two significant schemes currently under consideration for the Amex House site and a new tea house for Hove Park. Click on the images below to read more.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

The Pavilion Tea House in Hove Park is much loved by locals, particularly when the sun is shining, and you can sit outside. However, this pleasant building is no longer large enough to cope with the all-year-round business it now attracts. The kitchen is cramped, there are no toilets or disabled facilities and the inside seating is limited.

...continue reading "A new tea house for Hove Park?"

The Society keeps a special reserve for occasions when an exceptionally important conservation project comes along. We look after it carefully and do not dip into it often. After careful consideration, the committee has decided that Madeira Arches is an especially deserving and urgent cause. So this is the right moment to put our conservation project reserve to good use.

We've decided that we will contribute as generously as we can afford to the restoration of the Madeira Arches. The Society is pledging £10,000.

By setting an example we hope to encourage others, so we will be seeking as much  publicity as possible for our donation. The Regency Society should be taking a lead on causes like this in the hope that others will follow. If our members, the general public and the conservation community locally and nationally join us in contributing we may be able to prevent disaster.  You can help too: please click here to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign.
...continue reading "We pledge £10,000 to help restore the Madeira Arches"

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. 

In October 2017 we considered the following applications: 

St Aubyns School, High Street. Rottingdean

Yet another attempt is being made to get permission for housing on the former playing field behind the school buildings. As with the previous plan, this one involves retaining part of the field as open space. The rest will be developed as housing.

There is a lot of opposition to this in Rottingdean because of its potential impact on traffic and local amenities. The society believes that the site should be used to contribute towards the city’s housing need. The housing proposed is thoughtfully designed to blend well with its older neighbours.

We have therefore supported the scheme. You can read the original application here  and our comments here.

Valley Gardens/St Peter’s Church

The Council is resurrecting plans to reconfigure traffic flows from St Peter’s through Valley Gardens to the seafront. The east side will be a two-way route for traffic coming into and leaving the city centre. The west side will be for buses and taxis.

These traffic changes do not require planning permission. This application is for proposed changes to the central area. The hope is that the revised traffic scheme will make the gardens more accessible and hence better used.

The Regency Society has its doubts about the viability of the new traffic scheme. However, if it does go ahead we support the idea of attracting more people to enjoy what is the most significant green open space in central Brighton.

Sadly we cannot support this particular set of plans. They involve a bleak hard gravel square to the south of the church. The gardens themselves will undergo various changes but little detail is given in the application. What detail there is suggests a scheme which is unimaginative and unlikely to be well maintained.

David Robson writes with detailed thoughts about this scheme here. You can read the application here and our formal comments here.

Richardson’s Yard, New England Road

Brighton Housing Trust has made good use of this former industrial site, using former shipping containers to provide homes for those in real need, for example rough sleepers. This application is to continue the permission for a further five years. The Regency Society supports it.

We also support the similar application for the neighbouring site where containers are being used as workspaces. Read the application here.

Cottages in Station Approach, Falmer

If you pass through Falmer station regularly you will probably know the two boarded-up cottages which back onto the train line just on the Lewes side of the station. This application seeks to demolish them and build a residence for 90 students.

 

The cottages were probably attractive in their day but they are now looking very sad. The society does not oppose their demolition: they are not listed nor are they in a conservation area. Meanwhile the city needs more purpose-built student housing.

Even so, we are objecting to this scheme because of the poor design of the proposed new building. It uses white render and wood cladding, both materials which do not fare well in the local climate. Other buildings nearby are in brick, which would be much more appropriate. Read the application here and our formal comments here.

If you are a member of the Regency Society and would like to comment on our positions on any issue we would be delighted to hear from you:  please contact us. Further details of all current planning applications are available on the Council’s website.

David Robson considers the current plans to remodel Valley Gardens and is disappointed.

Valley Gardens is a precious green lung that barely survives between two arteries of thundering traffic at the heart of our City. Framed by a theatrical backdrop of buildings of different styles and periods, it has the potential to act as an exciting urban promenade, as an event space, as a place of repose. However, plans currently being advanced by the Council fail to exploit this potential and promise little more than clipped grass, trampled flowerbeds and bonded gravel.

...continue reading "How grey is our valley – we object to proposals for Valley Gardens"

The Brighton Unitarian Church in New Road is a striking building. It stands on what was originally part of the Royal Pavilion gardens. The Prince Regent sold it to the Unitarian congregation in 1819 for £650, allegedly to help stave off bankruptcy.

Just over a year later the church was finished. The architect, Amon Henry Wilds drew inspiration from the temple of Theseus in Athens, giving the building an immense pediment and columns which still dominate the east end of new Road.

The story today

Sadly, these features of the building are now decaying. As a result, it has been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. Attempts are being made to obtain a restoration grant.

Read more about the Portico Repair Project here.

Meanwhile the church’s activities continue, including an impressive series of weekly lunchtime concerts. The November programme starts on Friday 3rd (12:30 – 1:15 pm; coffee from 12 noon). Pianist An-Ting Chan will play music inspired by animals. See the full programme here.