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Marlborough House – the Council refuses the restrospective planning application

Our protests, along with those of other groups, about the latest damage to Marlborough House, one of our most important heritage assets have been heard. The Council has decided to refuse the retrospective application for permission to paint the exterior of the building. We await developments with interest.

As members know, Marlborough House is the second most important building in Brighton and Hove. The current Pevsner guide calls it Brighton’s 'finest late C18 house'.  Its construction, formed from a previous red-bricked house owned Thomas Shergold,  in 1786 to a design by Robert Adam predates all of Brighton's Regency Squares, Crescents and Terraces. Adam intended the original to look as if it were faced with Portland Stone. This was to achieve a classical effect and is typical of Adam. Adam's style has had huge influence on building design throughout Europe and beyond ever since. It must have been a magnificent and striking sight at a time when central Brighton had few distinctive buildings.

Retrospective application to paint the exterior of Marlborough House

Those who pass the Old Steine regularly have probably noticed a distinctly modern coat of off-white exterior paint recently. The owner has now applied for retrospective permission for this. The Council should, of course, grant consent before any significant work starts on Grade 1 listed buildings.  The application lacks proper evidence to support the design principles for this project. We have written to register our objection in the strongest terms. Sadly, this is the latest in a long string of insults to this fine, unique building.  Its history over recent years is one of shameful neglect and abuse and its integrity as a heritage asset is now seriously at risk.

It is particularly sad that efforts were made only 15 years ago to recreate the original appearance of Marlborough House. This was done by applying a render which was, as far as possible, similar to that intended by Adam in texture and colour.

A separate retrospective application to place an advertising hoarding on the front of Marlborough House (you may have noticed several advertisements obscuring the frontage) has already been turned down. The purpose of this, it seems, was to raise income from advertisers to fund internal works.

The image above shows Marlborough House in August 2017.

Read our comments here

View the retrospective planning application

Read a fuller account of the recent history of Marlborough House by Nick Tyson