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. . . the application was withdrawn.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.

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)


. . .  there is a masterplan for the western end of the Marina and the Black Rock site.

Already the Marina is a hodgepodge of buildings whose layout and design relate  to nothing of local meaning. Furthermore, pedestrians seem to have been largely left unconsidered, e.g. plenty of obvious places for cars but little to help someone on foot negotiate from, say, the western beach entrance to the 'Laughing Dog'. This view seems uncontroversial.

The present proposed development attempts to nudge potential future developers on the site toward some design logic but this viewpoint isn't nearly broad enough to encompass the practical and environmental impact of what might be a new Brighton Centre on Black Rock with all it's as yet unresolved heritage and transport issues. (There isn't even a design yet.)

The full planning application now with the council proposes phase 2 and outline permission for phase 3 of largely private and some 'affordable' flats with parking, amenities and public walkways and open space - all this immediately south of the shed structures that are presently the David Lloyd Leisure Centre, the bowling alley and the casino. This will be built on reclaimed land and is intended to relate to phase 1 already built to  the east.

We have seen earlier designs for this site that included a slim 40 storey tower on the southwest corner and curvilinear  blocks of various heights. This has been superseded by a 28 storey tower plus eight buildings of eight -19 storeys, some forming a crescent facing the sea with several large blocks beside and behind.

This proposal is the start of intended radical changes to the profile of the city that claim to be inspired by the lovely Regency squares that define us. The Regency Society, while not hostile to change, progress and, in some cases, tall buildings, does not believe this proposal, conceived in isolation of other radical changes brewing, rises to the challenge of our city's social, economic and heritage needs.

Our objection submitted to the council details benefits and dis-benefits of the proposal as we see it.  Please read it here as it provides details about our concerns that outweigh the benefits sought.


Visual impressions within the development

Visual impressions from outside the development

13-22 September

Heritage Open Days is England's biggest heritage festival bringing together over 2,000 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. It celebrates our fantastic history, architecture and culture; offering people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences - all of which are FREE to explore.

Every year in September, the bunting is unfurled and buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to discover the often hidden or forgotten gems on our doorsteps and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

Free of charge and right on people’s doorstep, Heritage Open Days is an event for everyone, whatever their background, age or ability. From castles to city halls, tunnels to tower tops, police cells to private homes, workshops to woodland walks, the variety of places and ways to discover them are endless.

Locally, Brighton & Hove’s contribution to the festival is organised by the Regency Town House which has been involved for nearly 30 years.  Often, Brighton & Hove are in the top five cities in the country for the number of events organised.  It’s yet another area where we ‘punch above our weight’.

Previous openings during the festival have included the Sussex Masonic Centre, Embassy Court, Duke of York’s cinema, Shoreham Lifeboat and behind the scenes at the Theatre Royal.

It is hoped to showcase the restoration of a Brighton tram, the WW2 air raid shelters under a school playground, the heritage of the Palace Pier as well as an exhibition and tour of the architecture of John Leopold Denman.  If none of that appeals, there should be up to 100 other events to pick from.  Also, for the first time, there will be a guided walk of the ‘Old Village of Hove’ by a Regency Society member.

See the event listings here as well as on the national website 

Some events must be booked but a large number will be ‘open door’ and you can just turn up.


"I'm not an architect, I'm a scouser of a certain age with too much time on his hands. Like most volunteers." So said Brian, our excellent RIBA guide to commercial Liverpool. In the space of an hour he steered us around the monuments to 19th Century trade and showed us how deeply Liverpool had been involved in the American Civil War as well as WW2, where the Blitz went on for weeks. We saw the beautiful bombed out but restored Oriel Chambers, as well as Shrapnel wounds to handsome stone buildings.

...continue reading "Merseyside Study Tour 2019"

Some things we do so well - with the help of fine weather and a lovely garden. Our guests and members, including some stalwart trustees, mingled, laughed and had a few serious words, no doubt, while enjoying too the added attractions this year of William Pye's garden water sculptures, the entrance to the secret tunnel and the practicality and perhaps the ultimate essence of a garden party, the marquee.

Our vice-president Gavin Henderson welcomed everyone on behalf of the Antony Dale Trust. We were honoured to entertain for the first time a member of the European Parliament who is also the city's new mayor, Green Councillor Alex Phillips. She spoke knowledgeably about the work we have done and are doing,  leaving us with a sense of a sincere interest in our pursuit of our objectives. Mary McKean, our chair, encouraged us to have a look at next years' lecture series with its particular emphasis on the local area including a rather special event in the newly restored Corn Exchange. 

Wine, raffle prizes and Martin Auton-Lloyd's delicious hors d'oeuvres seemed to please. Thank you for coming to the Regency Society summer party in the lovely Secret Garden. We look forward to seeing all of you and others next year.

with thanks to David Sears for the photos