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UPVC or not UPVC?

23-30 High Street, Kemptown was built in 1910 by the prominent and versatile Brighton architects Clayton and Black in the Arts and Crafts style. It is of particular interest as an early example of Brighton Corporation Housing. It is Grade II listed and in the East Cliff Conservation Area.

The application is for the replacement of the UPVC windows on the upper floors of the front elevation in timber, as originally, and replacement of all UPVC windows on the rear elevation with new UPVC windows.

The three-light windows on the first and second floors of No 23 provide the model for the proposed replacement of the UPVC windows on the front elevation. They are replacements of UPVC windows which were out of keeping with the rest, having top lights to some of the casements. Their design was based on comparison with surviving original windows in nearby buildings by Clayton and Black.

The rear elevation to Dorset Place is itself of significance to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area. The existing top or bottom-hinged opening lights without glazing bars have introduced a degree of blandness and horizontality to the elevation which is detrimental to the special interest of the building and to the character of the conservation area.

The proposed replacement of the windows on the front elevation is welcome, subject to approval of the details. The rear elevation is visible from Dorset Place and the replacement windows should be in keeping with the timber originals.

To have simply commented on this application would not be a sufficient expression of opposition to the proposals as they affect the rear elevation and so we have objected.

 

 

A rabbit hole on the roof

Before part 1 of the City Plan was approved back in 2016, the planning inspector who was reviewing it said that that the city would need to “look down every rabbit hole” to find space for more homes. A developer has found one such opportunity at Thompson Road in Hollingbury.

The proposal relates to an existing block of 28 two-bedroom flats. The plan is to erect an additional storey on the building to create 12 new flats, 8 one-bed and 4 two-bed. The development would also provide balconies for the existing second and third floors.

The site is on the side of the Lewes Road valley. It falls away fairly steeply towards the railway line. As a result, the impact on the houses opposite is minimised.

 

 

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 site of the former East Brighton Brighton gasworks has been blighted since it was bombed in 1943. The land is contaminated and therefore potentially costly to develop. It has become something of an eyesore (see photos of its current state at the bottom of this page). We would welcome a proposal to transform it - especially for much need affordable housing and as a focal point for the local area. A developer has come forward with a proposal but we are unhappy with it. Here's why.

The story so far

Last Autumn, developer St William consulted us about their ideas for the gasworks site. Their initial proposal was for a development including 600 - 700 homes in a densely packed high rise development. We were not happy with this. After all, in the City Plan, this site is earmarked for just 87 dwellings. This is also not an area designated by the council as appropriate for tall buildings.

The proposal would be out of scale with the area and significant overdevelopment. We feel that any development on this site needs to be sympathetic to the immediate mixed environment and add value to the local community. Read our initial thoughts here.

Revised plans

St William have now produced a revised plan (read about it here).  We welcome some minor improvements, but little has changed from the first version. We are still not happy with it.

Too dense, too high, and out of keeping with the local area

We don’t think the current masterplan addresses the fundamental flaws we pointed out in our comments on the previous version.Minor improvements including treatment of Boundary Road and an improved northern entry to the ‘Green Link’ are welcome.

It is still as dense as the previous version. Despite a few perfunctory changes, the buildings are still too high. We think the illustrations are deceptive. The apparent size of the buildings in comparison to others in the neighbourhood is misleading horizontally and vertically. There is an impression of relaxed spaciousness and sunlight between the buildings. The reality will be overshadowing for much of the day by the crowded, high buildings in most spaces, and wind tunnels through the long corridors in this exposed area.

Claims are made in the proposal that the design of some buildings reflects local heritage. We are not convinced by this. This matters as this site is close to the Kemptown Estate.

We also believe that the cost of decontamination (claimed as the reason for the proposed excessive height and density) should be factored into the premium paid for the site, and not recovered through overdevelopment.

Read our detailed response to the design issues here.

Campaigning together with other groups

There is considerable strength of feeling about this proposal amongst amenity groups throughout the city and other organisations with a direct interest in this site. We’ve joined forces with them in issuing an open statement which welcomes housing on the site as long as a significant amount of it is affordable and any development is sustainable. The joint statement also opposes the overdevelopment and tall buildings in this location, and urges a safe and healthy outcome for this site.

Want to have your say?

The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Council for planning permission. There is still time to let the developer know your thoughts. The consultation is short: the deadline is 5 March. Use this link to tell St William what you think. 

Images of the site now

Boundary Road now and as proposed

Pictures from St William publications and by John and Mary McKean

Dolphin Reprieve?

 

If you have a long memory you may remember the dolphins being removed from the base of the fountain in Steine Gardens. It happened in 1995 when the current occupants were installed in their place. Since then, the old ones have been in storage.

Until now, when a community group, working with sculptor Steve Geliot are proposing to re-locate them to the north end of Norfolk Square.

Planning permission is required. The proposed location is on the busy footway on the south side of Western Road, immediately opposite the entrance to Norfolk Square garden.

The Regency Society fully supports the principle of re-using the original dolphins in this way. However, we are not convinced that the proposed location is appropriate. It is in the centre of a busy footway and close to a bus shelter.

The proposed statue will not block the pedestrian route, but it is likely to create congestion, particularly if passers-by stop to stroke the attractive creatures, as the sculptor hopes they will.

Regretfully, we have asked the Planning Committee to refuse the application as it stands. We hope that a more suitable location can be found nearby, for example on the grass at the bottom of the steps into the garden.

 

Madeira Drive Brighton, or is it International Drive Orlando?

There was a time when Madeira Drive was a pleasant place to stroll, with almost uninterrupted sea views.  Now, it is becoming increasingly developed, from the catering plaza by the Zip Wire to the already approved rope climbing feature shown in the illustration.

A new planning application has been submitted proposing a raised seating area for the nearby café. Why raised? Because the plan is to build over the nearby Volks Railway line.

The application contains many fine words, including a claim that the structure will improve the setting of the listed Madeira Arches opposite, but it fails to convince.

Our view is that the raised seating area will not enhance the setting of the listed arches. It will simply add to the growing clutter along the beach-front. We are also concerned about the risk of damage to the rail line or the vehicles running along it, if anything falls or is thrown from above.

For these reasons we hope the application will be refused.

 

Doing it the right way

Number 45 North Gardens is an unlisted mid-19th century terraced house in the West Hill conservation area. A proposal has been submitted for removal of the existing bowed bay window and various other alterations.

Next door, the front elevation of number 46 is pretty much as it was originally designed;  so it has been taken as a model for the changes to number 45.

All the moulded window surrounds and stone sills would be reinstated. The windows will be replaced with timber multi-pane double-hung sashes. The front door will be set back in its original position and the fanlight reinstated. Alterations are also proposed to the rear elevation, some involving the use of UPVC, “but in a style and pattern to match the originals”.

The alterations proposed for the front will be substantially beneficial to the character of the conservation area. Those to the rear are, on balance, beneficial; the local Article 4 Direction allows UPVC for rear elevations.

We welcome this application and hope it will be approved. To quote the excellent Heritage, Design and Access Statement that accompanies the application, “It is refreshing to see a homeowner willing to reinstate the proportions and character of their home, rather than just replace the joinery within the inappropriate openings".

 

 

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.

Might the derelict space in Church Street finally be built on?

This site is on the corner of Church Street and Portland Street in the North Laine Conservation Area. It has been vacant and derelict for longer than many of us can remember. There have been successful planning applications, but, as yet, no development has started.

This month we looked at yet another proposal for the site, a four-storey office building with cycle parking and some landscaping which would provide 3,625 m2 of office space and an exhibition space. Opinions within the Planning Forum differed with some thinking there was no reason to object and welcoming the chance to develop the site. Others meanwhile expressed concerns about the impact on the conservation area and the Grade II listed building opposite (the former drill hall).

 

A cut down cul de sac?

A much smaller application, also in Church Street relates to a short cul-de-sac called Mount Zion Place. It is located just north of St Nicholas’s Church.  The proposal is to close off part of the cul-de-sac in order to increase the size of the neighbouring private garden.

The cul-de- sac forms the entrance to a rather narrow footpath which provides a useful pedestrian link between Church Street and Centurion Road.  Because it is narrow and runs between high hedges and fences, the footway can feel rather uninviting, though it is well-used. The proposed development will make it look even less inviting.

We have decided to submit an objection on the grounds of loss of public space and reduced public amenity.

 

Extend the Zip Wire?

Well, not exactly extending the wire! There is an application to extend for a further 12 months the temporary permission for the catering and leisure structures on Madeira Drive.  The Council’s heritage team has pointed out that the appearance of the temporary structures needs to be improved. They have also drawn attention to essential works needed at beach level to the projecting canopy plinth and supporting structures.  We agree and hope that an extension of permission will be granted on those conditions.

 

A doorway in the Lanes: calming the columns

Nile House is an office block with retail and catering outlets on the ground floor, built in 1989 in the then fashionable, post-modern style.

The main entrance, midway along the Nile Street frontage, is in a somewhat incongruous “Edwardian Baroque” style, with alternate courses of the paired flanking columns being square blocks; there is a a rusticated inner archway with frameless swinging glass doors to the draughty lobby.

The proposal is to simplify the columns to match those to either side, to remove the archway and to install energy efficient sliding glass doors. The porch would be flanked by planters between the columns.

We don’t believe that this would be detrimental to the character of the conservation area, even if it could be seen in full elevation. Nile Street is actually so narrow that the alteration will only be seen close-up or at an acute angle.

 

 

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.

 

 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!