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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.

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. You can read more about the Planning Forum here.

Each society forms its own view on the applications and decides what action, if any, to take. 

In September 2017 we considered the following applications: 

2, The Conifers (Tongdean)

We considered a plan for demolition of a house in the Tongdean conservation area. The proposed replacement is very poorly designed so in this case we decided to object. You can read our objection here.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink

There was quite a bit of discussion about the ice rink. There has been an ice rink in front of the Royal Pavilion for several years and this application was asking for permission to continue with it for the next six years.

The temporary structures required obscure an important view of our city’s most important listed building for almost one third of the year. On the other hand, the rink generates much needed cash for the maintenance of the Pavilion. So, there are good arguments for and against. After a useful discussion, we decided that proper maintenance of the building is essential so we will not object.

Plans for a large block of student housing in Lewes Road

The building is large but does step up from south, providing a number of different level roof spaces. This seems appropriate in the context of the larger scheme for the Preston Barracks site. We decided not to comment.

Other planning issues discussed at the Planning Forum

We also discusssed an outline application for housing on land of Overdown Rise, Mile Oak, The Jubilee Car Park at the University of Sussex and the replacement of windows at Hove Town Hall  but decided to make no comment.

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 Regency Society cares about our city. We want to preserve its wonderful heritage and encourage new, well designed buildings. This is why we keep a very close eye on planning applications in Brighton and Hove.

To do this we monitor proposed developments. We speak out about them when we think they are unacceptable as well as when we think they are good.

Until recently we did much of this through our membership of the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group (CAG). Recently we decided to withdraw from the group. You can read more about our reasons here. Hove Civic Society has also withdrawn, for similar reasons.

...continue reading "Our new approach to planning"

With regret, we have decided to cancel the discussion forum about the Waterfront Project planned for 18 October. We don't like cancelling events, especially at short notice, but in this case we feel we should.

The Waterfront Project, if it goes ahead, will be one of the most important developments in the city over the next few years. It will result in the construction of a 10,000-seat events venue at Black Rock and a major extension of the Churchill Square shopping centre.

So, if it is so important why did we cancel the discussion forum?

We have been monitoring the project for some time and have had useful discussions about it with representatives of both the Council and the owners of Churchill Square (Standard Life). We believed, based on what we were told and public statements by the Council, that by October the project would have moved forward and more detail would be known, and the parties would be willing to share their plans with us in greater detail.

In fact very little seems to have changed over the past few months and there is still very little detail available. As we have written before - this is frustrating as the people of Brighton and Hove need and deserve to know more. But a discussion at this stage, before a deal is agreed between the major players, could only have covered old ground.

The project is complex and controversial. Many people have questioned how it could work. We still believe that a public discussion will be needed.

We hope to resurrect the planned forum when more details are available and the major parties are available to explain their thinking. As soon as this seems to be the case we will be in touch.

 

Image shows Black Rock site

 

The committee has been considering the Council's proposals to create a new conference and events centre at Black Rock for some time. The Council wants to fund the new centre with a deal involving Standard Life Investments (SLI). This is a complex and far reaching scheme which includes a much enlarged Churchill Square shopping centre. We're calling for much more consultation about it.

We need to know more

Despite its very significant scale, there is little information about this proposal.

...continue reading "Consultation on the Waterfront Project: we want to know more"

Our annual summer garden party will be in the Secret Garden on 24 June. Tickets are now available.

Kevin Wilsher reflects on a convivial afternoon in truly British weather 

Well, the day started in an unpromising way with sea fret and light drizzle and the organisers got a little damp whilst setting up the event.  By opening time, however, the weather had settled into a dry but overcast cool ‘summer’ day.

Following a quick trip to A&E to sort out the caterer’s sliced hand and to get some emergency ice, we were ready to go on time.

...continue reading "Summer Garden Party 2017: a bit on the chilly side but great fun!"