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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: 

Monsieur Poirot would not approve

Number 4 Grand Avenue is one of Hove’s finest 20th century buildings. It is also one of the best preserved.

It was built in 1939 to a design by Murrell and Pigott. It’s 1930s look is striking and, in the words of Regency Society member Robert Nemeth, “it would make an ideal home for a certain Monsieur Poirot”.

It is important that its distinctive appearance should be preserved. That is why the Regency Society has objected to a planning application to install a glass balustrade behind the balcony railing on the eighth floor.

The reason for the plan is perfectly understandable, to reduce the risk children falling through the existing railings. So why are we objecting?

The balcony is on the top floor and is clearly visible against the sky. Glass is a far from an invisible material and, in this position, it will act as a reflector. We are also worried that the proposed fixing into the stone parapet will not be strong enough to resist high winds.

We believe that there are alternative solutions. For example, an additional metal railing composed of fine horizontal bars set back behind the existing railing would be almost invisible. See the planning application here

The society has welcomed a plan to install a new sign near the landward end of the pier. The sign will read “Brighton Palace Pier” thus restoring its previous, but not quite its original name. Back in 1899 when the pier was opened, it was named the ”Brighton Marine Palace and Pier” and the initial BMPP can still be seen in places as you stroll along it.

However, we are less impressed by a new structure which has appeared directly outside the pier entrance. It is a large, windowless, wooden shed housing a gift shop and it looks quite out of place. No planning application has been made as far as we know. We have asked the Council to take enforcement action.

See the planning application here

Proposal for King’s House in Hove

We’re not at all happy with the proposal for the King’s House on Grand Avenue – 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.

We're very disappointed with plans for the King's House building (formerly council offices) on the corner of Grand Avenue and Kingsway.

Our concern covers more or less every aspect of the proposal currently under consideration.

It's too massive

The new structure will not only replace the building which faces Grand Avenue. It will also include a new block where the car park is now. These three structures, including the original Grade II building which faces Kingsway, will have very little space between them.

It would be an oppressive place to live

Almost half the apartments will face into sunless internal spaces and have no views. The new block which will face onto Grand Avenue includes single-aspect flats with  dining areas 7 metres from any window. The inhabitants will need the light on all day.

You will be no better off if you opt for a flat in the North facing blocks of the main building. These flats will have no sunlight all day either.  Its structure consists of  'outriggers' (blocks which jut out from the main building). These are only 8 metres apart so will get very little, if any, direct light and very poor privacy. The Western aspect faces a blank wall. And this is one of the most desirable sea-side spots on Brighton and Hove!

There is very little open space - all of the available land has been crammed with buildings. This is a worrying trend (see our comments last month on proposals for the Amex site).

It will look a mess

We don't like the design, which feels to us as if it is an attempt to make the ungainly whole look smaller than it actually is. So it won't even be a pleasure to walk past, if you are lucky enough to live in the much superior 1930s 4 Grand Avenue, just up the road.

What about affordable housing?

This proposal is coy about affordable housing. We don't know how much is proposed nor where it would be but we fear that this is the intention for the worst of the depressing, dark apartments.

Future generations deserve better

We find this proposal unacceptable in every way. It is very sad that a prime spot on our sea front attracts so little ambition for the future of our city. It condemns future generations to a substandard home if you live there, and a depressing view if you merely have to look at it. Alas this sort of development seems to be a growing trend.  We call on the council to raise everybody's aspirations by declaring this sort of proposal unacceptable.

Read our objections

See the full planning 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. 

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.

Last month, following our cabbage awards evening, we asked you to let us know if you have any favourite buildings of the last 118 years to redress the balance. It's nice to know we can praise as well as criticise!

Jane Carver nominates Brighton and Hove's tram (now bus) shelters because 'some have a delightful rustic charm and the one in Pavilion Parade (designed by Borough Engineer David Edwards) is thoroughly modern with straight lines and curves. Simple, elegant and fit for purpose'.

Elaine Evans nominates Frieze Green House on Portland Road, which won Development of the Year at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s South East Awards in 2016.

Alison Minns nominates John Howard Cottages in Roedean Road because: 'I like the Arts and Crafts feel about the group of buildings and the fact that the cottages are not visible from the road. It is a peaceful and little-known set of buildings with a homely feel. I have a personal affection for the cottages (a sort of philanthropic almshouse development by Sir John Howard) because my late husband's aunt - a retired nurse - lived happily there for many years.'

Mary McKean nominates 'Gossip in the Steine Cafe' because it is 'quintessentially Brighton....' and the matching bus shelters already nominated by Jane Carver an elegant but modest example of 1930s stylishness.

Roger Hinton nominates the now disappeared Amex building on Edward Street 'because unlike other office buildings in Edward Street it stood back from the roadside, providing a pleasant public space and a good view of its distinctive facade.'

Kevin Wilsher nominates Saltdean Lido because 'it is one of the finest examples of modernist lidos in the UK.  It's also a great example of the restoration of an important building driven by the energy and determination of a local community group'.

John McKean nominates the temporary installations at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, and has submitted a whole gallery of images to prove it (see below), because 'it is wonderful, thrilling, an extraordinary gigantic metallic ballet, and at night a firework display high above the city - especially exciting seen from high up Wilson Avenue or from A259 at Roedean... and then there's that amazing open-air roof-top race-track... Catch it before it vanishes! By far the outstanding sight of Brighton 2017-18'

An anonymous nomination selects the Jubilee Library because 'it shows what one truly excellent building can do to lift a previously dead space - empty for far too long.'

Photo credits: Frieze Green House: Jim Stephenson. Saltdean Lido: Simon Carey, Brighton tram shelter by Catchesthelight (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0),

 

 

Several members enjoyed the presentation at the social event on 21 February by Paul Zara and Richard Wolfeströme about the new RIBA map of the best twentieth century buildings in Brighton. 

The map has sparked considerable controversy as some feel important buildings have been left out, or challenge the right of others to be included. This is perhaps inevitable with any undertaking of this sort which is bound to reflect personal preferences.

So, to allow members to redress the balance we've decided to create our own Regency Society gallery of members' favourite twentieth century buildings in and around Brighton and Hove. Do you have a favourite, completed between 1900 and 2018, which you would wish to include? It does not matter whether or not it was included in the RIBA map.

If so, complete the form below by April 1 and we will publish the results in a gallery with the April update. If you have a picture you can attach it - but don't be deterred if you don't - we'll find one.

Please note that the gallery is only open to submissions from RS members.

If you are a member you can complete as many submissions as you like!

Regency Society Members' Gallery of favourite 20th century buildings in Brighton and Hove: submission form

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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.

13 Regency Society members prepared 1 minute presentations on their proposed 'Cabbage award' for the worst 20th century building in Brighton and Hove to follow the presentation on the RIBA Sussex map of the best 20th century buildings in Brighton and Hove on 21 February 2018. The audience voted to choose their least favourite building.

The presentations proved very popular so we are showing them again here. (All photographs were taken by RS members or derived from google maps)

Adding your comment

Would you like to comment on this article or add your own cabbage nomination? We would be interested to hear your views, which will be added below. 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.

...and demolishing the worst!

 

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Sussex) has produced a map that identifies and describes some outstanding buildings in Brighton and Hove of the last hundred years.

Map compilers Paul Zara and Richard Wolfströme introduced the map to the Regency Society at this light-hearted event. 49 buildings are included in this neatly produced and attractive map, coded as Modernist/Art deco, Housing, Brutalist and Contemptorary. Any such list is bound to be controversial but the thought which clearly went into its preparation and the attractiveness of the map itself impressed us - several were sold on the night.

If you missed this opportunity to buy you can still do so here.

After animated discussion over drinks and nibbles during the break, 13 RS members presented their notion of the worst 20th century building in Brighton, and a 'cabbage award' was voted on. The presentations were limited to one minute - but despite this restriction all 13 presented convincing cases for their 'cabbage'.

See the cabbage presentation and read the nominations here.

 

 

Image: Hove Town Hall

Would you like to comment on this article? We would be interested to hear your views, which will be added below. 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.