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 Portland Street  - again

Portland Street in the North Laine is interesting. At the northern end there is a corner site which for several years has stood empty and uncared for even though it is in the heart of one of Brighton’s busiest areas.

And immediately to the south in Portland Street itself there is a terrace of town houses built fairly recently but in a period style which suits the location well, unless of course you object on principle to modern copies of old designs.

Behind this terrace there is a car park which developers have had their eyes on for a while as a possible site for more new homes.  There have been several applications, but nothing has happened yet.

The latest attempt is for just four new houses, with parking spaces beneath. We have looked at the plans and submitted a number concerns to the planners:

  • they have some private outside space, but it is extremely small and will be overshadowed by existing buildings;
  • the living room windows are angled with a blank section which will limit the amount light in the rooms;
  • the cycle storage is extremely cramped and is not under cover;
  • the houses are supported on columns with parking beneath, but the drawings are inconsistent about their positions;
  • some of the parking spaces may have very narrow entrances;
  • there is no on-site provision for refuse storage and the location of the nearest communal bins is not indicated.

Overall we think the proposed scheme is poorly designed and would represent over-development of the site.

 

Brighten Up!

If you’ve walked along Black Lion Street recently you may have noticed that Moore House on the east side is looking a bit sad.

It was designed by architect, Piers Gough. Interestingly, while speaking at a Regency Society event, he admitted that if he could start again, he would use a different colour. The picture shows that if this scheme is approved, the colours will be very different indeed.

The Regency Society believes the changes are to be welcomed however the application has been refused on the grounds that the bright colours will dominate creating a characteristic inappropriate for the Old Town Conservation area.

 

A tight squeeze in Clifton Hill?

Back in May we looked at proposal for a small office building behind some rather unsightly garages at the bottom of Clifton Hill. The Society made no comment.

It has now been refused because of its adverse impacts on the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Conservation Area, and on the neighbours.  Almost immediately, a new application has been submitted for an L-shaped three-bedroom house, on two floors, with a (very small) garden.

If, for some reason, it was necessary to fit a three-bedroom house into a space this size and shape, this proposal would probably count as an ingenious solution.  However, the site will be very cramped as well as being seriously overlooked by several nearby properties.

The Society is not objecting:  we don’t believe the development will seriously affect the local street scene, and perhaps there is a family who won’t mind being overlooked and will relish the tight squeeze.

 

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

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE WHITE PAPER and CHANGES TO THE CURRENT PLANNING SYSTEM: REGENCY SOCIETY RESPONSES

The Regency Society has responded critically to the consultation on the Planning for the Future White Paper.

The paper is heavily weighted towards addressing the housing shortage, particularly of affordable provision, with the emphasis on quantity not quality. The availability of development land is just one of several issues. It contains nothing about restricting Permitted Development Rights to avoid creating the "back-to backs" of the future. It does not of course address the underlying causes of the housing shortage.

The removal of VAT on the refurbishment and conversion of existing buildings would be a more sustainable way to address the housing shortage than just encouraging new development. Pound for pound, work to existing buildings provides more employment than new build does.

The paper is fundamentally flawed in seeking to change decision making from a case-based discretionary system to a rule-based "box-ticking" one. The next step will be making planning decisions by flawed algorithms.

While claiming to empower localism it would in practice centralise the system and neuter local planning authorities. The proposed elimination of District Councils would push this further.

Our response was copied to Civic Voice in time for them to take it into consideration in their response before the consultation closed.

Follow this link to see our response

The White Paper  (link to White Paper here)

The White Paper is a proposal for future legislation, not to be confused with changes to the current planning system by statutory instruments. These changes are aimed at increasing and accelerating housing provision. They are:

  • Introducing the Standard Method for assessing housing numbers, which would produce a 60% increase in the assessment for Brighton and Hove.
  • 25% of affordable homes should be for first homes, which would be exempt from the Infrastructure levy.
  • Supporting small and medium sized developers by reducing and delaying the Infrastructure Levy.
  • Extension of the Permission in Principle consent regime.

We objected to the first and last of these points in our response to the Planning White Paper.

Judicial Review  (link to document here)

Rights: Community: Action is crowdfunding a judicial review of the statutory instruments. The Regency Society has contributed £200 and would encourage members to contribute by going to the link above.

Feature image above: Tregunnel Hill, Newquay - thanks to ADAM Architecture/Duchy of Cornwall

The Regency Society has commented on the Proposed Submission City Plan Part Two. This is the Plan that the council intends to submit to the Secretary of State for independent examination.

The role of the City Plan Part Two is to support the implementation and delivery of the City Plan Part One (adopted 2016) by providing detailed development management policies to help determine planning applications and identifies and allocates additional development sites. The document, once adopted, will form part of the statutory development plan for the city and replace the remaining saved policies in the 2005 Brighton & Hove Local Plan.

We welcome the improvements which have been made in the document and the progress which has been made in implementing some of its policies, but not all the changes have been for the better and not all of our previous comments have been addressed. Policies alone are not sufficient: Council needs to act on them. We have indicated where we consider action is required, including the preparation of additional documents.

Follow this link to see our response:

The consultation document can be found here.

The consultation remains open until 30 October. You can make your own comments here.

 

Plan for new city centre hotel

Plans have been submitted for a new hotel in Cannon Place, behind the Metropole Hotel and near the Grand.  It will sit on a site currently occupied by some of the Metropole’s exhibition halls, which presumably are no longer needed.

We are supporting the development, which we believe will improve the appearance of this rather sad part of the city centre. In particular, it will result in the welcome renovation of two listed façades on the corner of St Margaret’s Place.

However, we are not convinced by the proposed appearance of the new building.   You can read our full comments by clicking here.

 

 

What a place to put it!

There has been a spate of applications recently for large telecommunications masts to be erected at various locations throughout the city.

Generally, we have not been commenting on them, but we have objected to the one proposed for outside numbers 69 and 70 Boundary Road in Hove. The mast itself would be 18 metres high but the main objection is to the large boxes which would stand on the pavement at its base.

The proposed site seems particularly unsuitable since these boxes will stand directly in front of a restaurant whose main window looks out onto to the pavement.

Over 130 public objections have been submitted.

 

 

Portslade planning for 3 phase housing giant

There is currently a full application for this large building on the corner of Wellington and Road and Camden Street in Portslade. If approved it will provide 65 new apartments, each of which will be at or above the national minimum space standard.

That is only part of the story. Outline permission is also being requested for two more new buildings to the west.  If built these will bring the total number of new apartments to 136, 40% of which will be to let at below market rents. They will also provide employment area.

The housing part of the scheme will be “zero parking”, with an underground car park for the employment section.

The Regency Society supports this scheme. Nearby approved schemes along this part of the coast have set a precedent for tall buildings with little parking. We think that the provision of residential units combined with employment space is to be welcomed in this part of the city.

Our only concern is a doubt about whether the first phase of the scheme would make sense without the other two buildings.

 

 

More student housing on London Road

Plans have been published for the re-development of a site on the west side of London Road, immediately north of the Aldi supermarket. The new ground floor will continue for retail use. The 3/4 storeys above will provide accommodation for 156 students.

The existing building has a red brick façade on the upper floors and is of some architectural merit. Red brick has been adopted as the primary material for the front of the new building thus evoking the building it replaces.

The plans show an internal landscaped courtyard, plemty of cycle storage, and solar panels on the roof.  The student entrance will be at the rear, with a lounge and a small terrace overlooking the grassed area in Providence Place. This should improve the rather run-down character of that area.

It takes a lot of confidence at the best of times to invest in new developments of this kind. The proposers of this scheme obviously see a future for shops in London Road and students moving away from home to study. Good luck to them!

 

 

Nearing the end of Valley Gardens

The Council’s Valley Gardens Project has already created major changes around St Peter’s Church and Victoria Gardens. Plans are now being finalised for the 3rd and final phase of the project which will cover the area from Old Steine to the Palace Pier roundabout.

Three trustees from the Regency Society met recently with the project manager to find out more about Phase 3. There will be considerable improvements for pedestrians and cyclists; the settings for the area’s heritage buildings will benefit greatly.

The impact on road traffic is more controversial.  The roundabout at the southern end will be replaced with traffic lights. Cases can be made both for and against this change. We were able to make a number of comments on less contentious aspects of the scheme.

We have suggested a pedestrian crossing from the front of the YHA building to allow visitors easier access to Steine Gardens. We also drew attention to the sorry state of Pool Valley which does not create the right impression for visitors arriving by coach.

We suggested that there should be greater provision of electric vehicle charging points to help encourage the switch from petrol and diesel. We have also made a plea against   spaces which pedestrians are expected to share with cyclists.

The redesign of the Old Steine and Palace Pier area covers the heart of the city centre, between the city’s historic Royal Pavilion and Palace Pier. The plans are intended to enhance the arrival and departure experience for visitors to Brighton and reduce severance for pedestrians and cyclists by better connecting the seafront and surrounding areas with the city centre. It will also form part of the council’s wider Valley Gardens plans to create a vibrant and attractive public park for the city centre.

40 Dyke Road Avenue Brighton

This large family house is interesting but sadly it is disused and in poor condition. It has elements of the “Arts and Crafts” style and is reminiscent of the work of architect Charles Vosey, though it is unlikely he was ever involved.

The current owner wants to demolish it and replace it with a new home for his family. Ideally the existing building should be restored, but this is unlikely ever to happen: the house has been significantly re-configured internally and would be prohibitively expensive to return to its original layout, let alone to bring to modern energy efficiency standards.

A number of differing designs have been proposed for a replacement, including a rather clumsy mock Georgian building which, fortunately, was refused planning permission. The latest proposal is much more sympathetic to the neighbouring buildings and it adopts some nice design features from its predecessor.

The Regency Society has encouraged the planners to grant permission this time.

 

Into the Backlands

We need to keep reminding ourselves that our city needs thousands of new homes. The main solution probably lies in big new apartment buildings, which usually encounter significant opposition, sometimes with good cause.

Meanwhile, all over the city, property owners are looking out of their back windows and wondering if they can slip one or two new homes into their back garden or parking space.

Two examples of this sort of backland development came onto our radar recently. One is in Wilbury Road , Hove, where there is a proposal to demolish 8 dilapidated garages and build a modern two-storey house with “landscaping” and cycle storage.

Another is out at Crescent Drive North in Woodingdean where a two-storey modern home is proposed with basement parking.  The existing garden is long so, if the scheme is approved there will still be a good-sized green space between the existing and the new homes.

Neither of these schemes is going to solve the housing crisis, but perhaps every little helps!

 

The Meeting House, Coldean

This interesting property was built in 1963 as a Mormon meeting house. In 1993 it was converted as a 4 bedroom home, which it still is.  There have been several previous applications for the site; all have been refused, including one taken to appeal.

This application clearly tries to address the reasons for earlier refusals. A strong case is made by the applicant’s planning consultants, backed up with other specialist reports. The building is not listed, nor in a conservation area. It is in poor condition and is not in keeping with the more conventional bungalows around it.

The proposal is for two new buildings, described as “semi-detached chalet bungalows similar in appearance and scale to the surrounding context, with hipped roofs and subservient dormer windows”. They will provide 12 new flats.

 

 

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society hovecivicsociety.org 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 Regency Society, like many organisations, is going online for its events for the foreseeable future.

This means that our 2020/2021 lecture programme will be available online. Each video lecture will appear on the relevant page on this website as it becomes available.

We are aware that not everyone is familiar with browsing on Youtube, and you do not need to do so to watch our lectures as they become available. However, we will use our YouTube channel to house RS lectures for as long as our lecture presenters are happy for them to be there, so if you want to browse previous lectures you can do so there. Visit our YouTube Channel (lectures will be added here as they are released).

It also contains a miscellany of other publicly available videos which may be of interest to members, drawn from various sources. If you would like to make suggestions for additions, please contact us. 

See details of the RS online events planned for Autumn 2020 

Browse our playlists of other videos which may be of interest to members

We hope you enjoy our online events. We look forward to the time when we can meet face to face again!

 

Do you remember Hills of Hove?

It was a large department store in Western Road Hove, near Palmeira Square. It opened in 1921 and closed in 1982. The building is now known as Hill House. It has shops at ground floor with flats above. A mansard roof was added to the (lower) central section, containing additional flats.

An applications has been submitted for a roof extension to adapt the existing mansard roof and provide eight more flats with new terraces for the third and fourth floors. All windows will be replaced and there will be improvements to some existing flats.

The proposed works will be a clear benefit to the appearance of the building on its Western Road frontage.  However, not enough detail is provided of the other proposed improvements. Hove Civic Society is submitting a comment welcoming in principle the improvement to the roofline and front elevation but encouraging the Council to seek clear assurances about other enhancements to the building.

 

A second try in Rock Place

A new application has been submitted for a mixed-use development in Rock Place, Kemp Town. It is similar to one we looked at previously and supported, which was subsequently withdrawn. The revised scheme introduces a shared roof terrace and goes from 5 one-bed flats to 3 one-bed and 1 two-bed. The fenestration has also been changed and the resulting appearance is more in keeping with the character of the conservation area.

The developer has already completed work on a previously approved, similar scheme on the opposite side of the street. The quality of work is good.

Again we have submitted a supportive comment.

 

Polishing the Crown?  Hmm

Crown House is in Upper North Street, at the junction with Dyke Road. It’s prominent position makes it visible from far and wide. Sadly it is not one of the city’s architectural gems.

We have recently looked at plans to re-clad the building, fit new windows and doors and make various other changes.  The result should be a significant improvement to its appearance.

 

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

We wanted to capture the unusual sights of the last few months so we asked Regency Society members and James Gray Collection Project volunteers to take photos of our city during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

They responded remarkably enthusiastically. Over 180 images came in on several themes, all taken in May and June 2020.

This was a fascinating period of empty streets and unusual sights, which evidently sometimes caught the eye and prompted creative thoughts in our intrepid photographers. We all hope that this crisis will soon fade into a distant memory. Nonetheless, we may like to look back and remember what it was like.

I think the results are wonderful. They display very many ways of thinking about this period. Some of these photos contain sights we will probably never see again. They also show that the RS family (members and volunteers) think a lot about what they see in our city and are very good at documenting it, both in the images and the captions.

...continue reading "Brighton and Hove in Lockdown"

The impending closure of the Brighton General Hospital site presents an unrepeatable opportunity to conserve a major historic asset of national significance and to make on a brownfield site a substantial contribution to reducing the city’s housing deficit. The Regency Society has already supported the campaign to have the part of the hospital site once occupied by the Brighton Workhouse designated as a Conservation Area.

Our vision for the former Brighton Workhouse is for it to be transformed from a place people were desperate to avoid into one they are keen to live and work in and to enjoy. Our ambition is for the site to be developed for the optimum benefit of the community, including the benefit the historic environment can bring to well-being.

We have three prime objectives for the workhouse site: securing the future of the historic buildings by sustainable reuse; generating new housing on the site in suitable historic buildings and in new buildings; enhancing the setting of the historic buildings and the character and amenity of the area by making it virtually car-free.

Government guidance on the disposal of heritage assets by public bodies is that accepting the highest purchase offer is not always appropriate, large historic sites should be considered as a whole, and heritage assets need sustainable ownership.

The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust proposes to develop a Community Health Hub on Elm Grove, adjacent to the workhouse site on the site of the Sussex Rehabilitation Centre and the former ambulance station.

Above: Front of Main Workhouse (Arundel) from Elm Grove

Above: Aerial view of the Workhouse Site from the North

Above:Aerial view of Hospital Site from the South

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

The Workhouse Phase I

A trapezium of agricultural land between what are now Elm Grove, Freshfield Road and Pankhurst Avenue was bought for a new workhouse in 1854; the workhouse was built between 1865 and 1867. The cost was met by selling the desirable urban site of the previous workhouse on Church Hill. Soon afterwards, Isfield and Jevington were built, Marina was enlarged, and a third storey was added to the Lunatic Wards, Freshfield.

The Workhouse Phase 2

The site was extended west by a long narrow rectangle between Elm Grove and Pankhurst Avenue used for the construction of new Casual Wards, Bramber, in 1887 and the New Infirmary Wards, Edburton and Dyke in 1891 and Cuckmere in 1898.

The Hospital

Brighton Municipal Hospital developed the southern half of the workhouse kitchen garden in the 1930s as a nurses’ home, now replaced by the flats at 85 Pankhurst Avenue. The northern half is the proposed site for the new NHS Community Health Hub.

Above: Main Workhouse (Arundel) with Varndean top left, Jevington top right, Glynde bottom left

Above: Infirmary (Fulking) left, Lunacy Wards (Fletching) right

SPECIAL INTEREST and CHARACTER

The special interest of the site lies in its having once had quite possibly the most complete set of workhouse buildings in the country, the majority of which survive, making it reputedly the best preserved workhouse complex in the country. Its value is as much as a group as in the individual buildings.

The main Workhouse building (Arundel), the Infirmary (Fulking) and the Lunatic Wards (Fletching) survive in their totality and the women’s half of the original Casual Wards (Varndean). The less interesting though unusual Smallpox Wards and the general Fever Wards have been demolished. The uncommon separate Infant Ward survives, absorbed into a larger building (Glynde); children were already provided for separately at the now demolished Warren Farm Industrial Schools at Woodingdean.

There is substantial survival of the ancillary buildings which were the workplaces of the inmates. The original outer perimeter wall survives relatively intact on Elm Grove and Freshfield Road. Elements of the walls dividing the various enclosures within it remain, including the walls of the cart road and turning circle to the kitchen of the main Workhouse building and one of the pair either side of the Infirmary.

Architectural Interest

The visual architectural interest of the site lies largely in the expression of the relative importance of the buildings by their differently sophisticated designs. Major buildings have showpiece entrance fronts and are rendered, with “polite” classical detailing, while secondary and ancillary buildings are of vernacular flintwork with brick dressings.

The intangible architectural interest lies in the site as a demonstration of the development of the design of workhouses. The Workhouse proper (Arundel) is a late and mature example of a corridor-plan workhouse, with recesses at the back to admit light and air into the corridors and a separate chapel above the dining hall, rather than a single shared space. The canted window bays in the junction of the rear wing allowed the Master and Matron to oversee the outside airing grounds for the inmates from their apartment.

In the extension site, the New Casual Wards (Bramber) retain evidence for the cellular system whereby vagrants were required to undertake stone-breaking in individual workspaces attached to their cells.

The additional New Infirmary Wards (Edburton, Dyke and Cuckmere) are separate, high-ceilinged pavilion-plan “Nightingale wards” which provide superior ventilation, as adopted by military and civilian hospitals after the Crimean War.

Historic Interest

The main historical interest of the site is as evidence of changing attitudes towards and provision for those members of society less able to maintain and house themselves: a debate which continues today. It exemplifies the different forms of support available: indoor and outdoor relief and the casual wards. It is a tangible demonstration of the segregation of the adult inmates into men and women, the able bodied - of two degrees - and the infirm, the “deserving” and “undeserving” and of the different and changing tasks they were required to undertake, which gave the workhouse its name.

The New Casual Wards building is special evidence of contemporary attitudes to vagrancy. The scale of the three New Infirmary Wards is indicative of the changing nature of workhouse inmates as the 19th century progressed.

The use of the workhouse during the First World War as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers adds a further layer of historical interest.

Above: Old Women’s Casual Ward (Varndean) centre, New Casual Wards (Bramber) right

Above: New Infirmary Wards, Cuckmere left, Dyke centre, Edburton right.

Historic Character

The original character of the workhouse was that of an enclosed precinct to contain the inmates, with a single controlled access point, within which the principal buildings had their own controlled enclosures, which were further subdivided for the various categories of inmates. Much of the space within the overall and the individual enclosures was garden areas. Though trees were originally confined to the outer perimeter, subsequently planted now-mature trees make a valuable contribution to the present character of the site.

The buildings take the form of detached blocks for different purposes. The core of the site around the main Workhouse building is laid out orthogonally to the bisecting line of the acute angle between Elm Grove and Freshfield Road. The peripheral buildings are laid out parallel to the surrounding roads. The formality of the layout is relieved by the fall of the ground from Pankhurst Avenue towards and down Elm Grove.

PROTECTING the HERITAGE ASSET

The whole of the former workhouse site already enjoys substantial protection as a heritage asset. The main Workhouse building (Arundel) is Grade II Listed. The listing includes the whole of the rear wing and The Lodge which was once attached to the back of the east wing. The interiors are all covered.

Recent unsuccessful applications to demolish the Lunatic Wards (Freshfield) and Isfield and a successful application for alterations to and demolition of additions to Dyke Building have all required listed building consent. These applications define the listed curtilage as including the whole of both phases of the workhouse site and determine that any development within them affects the setting of the Listed Building. The final draft of City Plan 2 confirms this, stating that "The three 1802 (sic) Infirmary and Workhouse Blocks are located within the curtilage of the principal listed building and are therefore also listed".

Designation as a Conservation Area would complement the existing protection of the site and ensure that it was treated holistically. The Conservation Management Plan to be prepared after designation would in effect become the Planning Brief for its redevelopment.

Above: Historical plan       Below: Re-use plan

 USING the HISTORIC BUILDINGS

All the historic workhouse buildings are capable of beneficial re-use, fully justifying their retention.

Residential Use

All the buildings which were once occupied by those receiving indoor relief are capable of residential use. The Workhouse proper (Arundel) is convertible to apartments; additional residential units could be built on the footprint of its lost laundry wing. The Infirmary (Fulking) and Lunatic Wards (Fletching) and Glynde are convertible to flats. The new Infirmary Wards (Cuckmere, Dyke, Edburton) are convertible to residential use as, potentially, is Jevington.

Alternative Uses

The surviving women’s side of the original Casual Wards (Varndean) is not suitable for residential use. It is conveniently located for both site occupants and the local community at the main site entrance and could be reused for retail and catering. Rebuilding the shell of the lost men’s side would give provide additional, more flexible space.

The replacement Casual Wards (Bramber) is not obviously suited to residential use and is well situated directly off Elm Grove to provide community facilities for both residents and the wider neighbourhood.

Isfield, Marina and Seaford are unsuitable for residential use but could find a variety of commercial uses appropriate to the buildings and their location. The basement floors of Cuckmere, Dyke and Edburton are unsuitable for residential use, but could have commercial uses.

CREATING NEW HOUSING

The final draft City Plan 2 calls for a minimum of 200 new housing units on the whole hospital site. The historic buildings suitable for residential reuse use could provide about 200 units, for over 700 people.

There are two areas within the workhouse site suitable for building additional housing, the triangular parking area in the northeast corner and a rectangular area on the west side between Bramber and Cuckmere which includes the present visitors’ car park, Poynings and Briggs. Developing these two areas at the same density of 115 units per hectare as 85 Pankhurst Avenue, on the site of the nurses’ home, would increase the total number of residents to over 1000 in about 280 units.

Allowing for the areas occupied by historic buildings that are unsuitable for residential use, this would give an overall density of around 80 units per hectare, 60% more than the minimum set by the Council for new developments outside the city centre.

The ratio of residential unit sizes in the historic buildings will be dictated by the buildings themselves: their plan form, structural compartmentation, the position of staircases and chimney breasts, fenestration, even ceiling heights. These constraints mean that apartments within the historic buildings could well exceed minimum space standards and be less affordable initially and in running costs.

Any mismatch with the required ratio of unit sizes and the balance between affordable and open-market housing can be redressed by new buildings. The amount of affordable housing re-development can support is not yet calculable. As an indicator, half of the potential newly built housing on the site would equate to 15% of the total.

ENHANCING the ENVIRONMENT

The character of the former workhouse area, the setting of the historic buildings and the public amenity of the site would be greatly enhanced by freeing it from traffic and visible parking.

There are currently 400 surface parking spaces on the workhouse site, 340 of which are accessible only via the main entrance. Allowing the same three parking spaces per four residential units as at 85 Pankhurst Avenue, the whole parking requirement of the workhouse site could be met by two levels of covered parking beneath the western development area, approached directly from Elm Grove using the existing service road west of Bramber.

The removal of on-site traffic, other than for service vehicles and blue badge holders, and elimination of kerbside parking would allow for shared use roads and some could become free of vehicles altogether. Traffic noise would be minimised and air-quality improved.

The reduced traffic level on site would avoid the need for separate entry and exit points. This would allow the incongruously landscaped traffic island to be replaced by a reconstruction of the shell of the lost men’s half of the Casual Wards, allowing the main pedestrian entrance to become, as originally, through the building.

Demolition of the derelict café on the corner of Elm Grove and Freshfield Road would allow the enclosure wall to be reinstated to its original alignment with a rounded corner. The Hilltop Nursery is of no intrinsic architectural quality and out of character with the historic buildings. A nursery could be included in community facilities in Bramber.

The space released by the demolition of post-Victorian buildings and additions and the removal of surface parking would provide additional public open space and recapture in part the original extent of garden areas. Additional tree planting would further enhance the character of the open spaces.

A limited number of additional pedestrian entrances to the site could be created without significantly affecting the special interest of the boundary wall. With the main entrance, new pedestrian entrances could connect the site with the surrounding community while keeping the feeling of its historic enclosed nature.

Some explanation of the history of the site could be added to the plans of the complex that will be required at the entrances and at key locations such as pedestrian exits from the car parks. Fuller historical interpretation could be placed in the community centre.

Developer St William homes has just completed a first consultation on a proposed scheme  for the gasworks site in East Brighton. Whilst we are delighted that someone has a proposal for this blighted site, we are not happy with their current ideas.

The gasworks site sits on a neglected piece of land immediately above and to the west of Marina Way. Neglected because the current and former gasholders on the site make it problematic to build on, it has stood empty for many years. We believe it represents an opportunity lost so far - it could form a focus for the lively, mixed area at the Eastern edge of Brighton currently made up of separate and disparate communities around its edges.

...continue reading "Brighton Gasworks site – an opportunity about to be missed?"