Skip to content


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?"

A Modern House with Style

We are welcoming a proposal to build a new five-bedroom house on a vacant plot in Surrenden Road. The site is between two existing houses and looks as if it has never been developed.  It has been the subject of a number of very different applications.

This latest scheme proposes a contemporary design. The wording of our comment to the Planning Authority is as follows:

“The Regency Society of Brighton and Hove  supports application BH2020/01216 for the erection of a five-bedroom house on the land adjoining 89 Surrenden Road.

The proposed scheme is a contemporary design with very clean junctions between surfaces. There are, for example, no gutters along the lower edges of the sloping roofs. The plans for each floor are well thought out. It is interesting to note the unusual detail on the sides at first floor level consisting of two external planted areas.

The choices of materials, red/brown tiles and white render, will blend in well with the character of the area.”


One building too many?

Just take a look at the 3D illustration below! The road running across the bottom left hand corner is Davigdor Road. The grey building on the left and the four linked buildings across the top don’t exist but have been approved. The large L shaped block in the lower right-hand corner includes the Montefiore Hospital.

That leaves the two blue buildings. The one on the left already exists. The other is the subject of a new planning application just submitted: it would be a six storey block of 43 flats over a car park.

We have discussed this with Hove Civic Society at our joint planning forum. Both societies agree that the application should be refused and Hove Civic will submit an objection. The proposed new building is far too close to the hospital. Very little detail has been provided about the design and materials and nothing to show what it would actually look like.


Third time lucky?

Meanwhile, nearby at the junction of Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue,  a third attempt is being made to get approval for a large new building. Previous versions proposed housing and a hotel. We objected to the hotel which seemed rather an odd idea for this location. It has now been dropped  The whole site is now proposed for housing with a south facing landscaped garden to the rear. The appearance has been improved slightly but the overall design is still uninspiring. For example, none of the flats include balconies.


Proposed new hotel for Cannon Place

The formal application for this has not yet been submitted but you can see here the consultation document.  The public consultation period was very short and has now closed but The Regency Society has submitted to the council this comment.

Further images and details will be published later on this website.




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.

Homes to replace former Hove dairy

The 19th century locally listed former dairy in Hove may become housing plus a new office building. Planning permission seeks approval to build 25 new homes, of which four will be affordable.The proposals involve the conversion of existing buildings within the front of the site, along with sympathetic extensions and new build development at the front and rear. Vehicle and cycle parking is spread out across the site to ensure that no part of the site is dominated by these features.

The design creates three central courtyards within the site as attractive focal points, while integrating historical features, such as the brick archways and external finishes.Traditional materials are replicated on the office building with new flint and brick dressings added.

The Regency Society commends the plan and design but has submitted comments, available here, about parking spaces.


Modern infill in Hove - does it work?

There is an application for a three storey, three bedroom house of modern design adjacent to Cowdray Lodge? Do you think it's OK?

Hove Civic will be opposing the application. Watch this space for their objection.


Protecting Brighton’s 19th Century Heritage

Montpelier Road

70 - 74 Montpelier Road is a Grade II listed terrace of five identical houses of 1840, within the Montpelier and Clifton Hill conservation area.

The proposed internal alterations to the basement would have minimal adverse impact on the special interest of the building, provided the new internal shower room can be ventilated without affecting the front elevation.

The proposed conversion of the rear room window to a French window and moving the position of the external door of the back extension would have negligible impact and provide commensurate benefits.

However, the Society is concerned about the loss of the basement coal cellar. All five houses in the terrace still retain their original coal cellars and steps. We have objected to the application in the belief that the historic character of the whole terrace should be retained.

You can read our full objection here.

Regency Square

Meanwhile in the neighbouring Regency Square conservation area we are objecting to an application in another terrace.

21 – 25 Regency Square is a terrace of originally identical houses of c1818 attributed to Amon and Amon Henry Wilds. It is of Group Value with the other listed buildings in the Square. It forms the north side of the short street between the northwest corner of the square and Preston Street.

No 23 is currently implementing retrospective listed building consent for renewing the first floor balcony, having started work without consent.

Our brief objection reads as follows: “This proposal would be detrimental to the special interest of the listed building, the setting of other listed buildings in Regency Square, with which it has group value, and to the character of the Regency Square conservation area.

“The first-floor windows of Nos 22 and 23 are the only two original bow windows remaining on the terrace. If the window is beyond practical repair, then its replacement should have curved multi-pane sashes with slender glazing bar and frame sections, without the non-existent horns shown erroneously on the drawing but with the brackets at the head of the mullions, which are not shown.”



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.

Feature image above - front of listed workhouse, with boundary wall

We have strongly supported the designation as a conservation area of the parts of the Brighton General Hospital once occupied as the Brighton Workhouse. This is a major heritage asset for the City of Brighton and Hove, of great social value and of national importance as the most complete surviving workhouse complex in the country.

The site is of special interest not only for the almost complete preservation of the major workhouse buildings, including the former Infirmary and Lunatic Ward, but also of many of the ancillary buildings without which it could not have operated. The extensive survival of the division into distinct functional areas, and of the separation between men and women inmates, is of particular significance. The social interest as a former workhouse is complemented by its use during the First World War as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers.

The workhouse site already enjoys considerable protection. The main building (Arundel) is Grade II listed. Its curtilage, for which listed building consent would be required for demolition or harmful alterations of historic structures, logically comprises the whole of the original 1860s site, bounded by Elm Grove, Freshfield Road, Pankhurst Avenue and the service road across the middle of the site. Development within this area would affect the setting of the listed building, as could development within the 1880-90s extension of the workhouse to the west of the service road.

Designation of a conservation area including both workhouse areas would protect historic buildings in the extension against unjustified external alteration or demolition. All development, whether it affected the setting of the listed building or not, could affect the special interest and character of the conservation area, as could development in the remainder of the hospital site, including the ambulance station.

The process of designating a conservation area, like listing a historic building, starts with the appraisal of its architectural, historic and societal value. The value placed upon a historic asset by the local community is a material consideration for appraisal and designation. Their aspirations for future ownership and uses and considerations of development economics, energy efficiency and carbon emissions are not material at this point. These come into play with the production of a master plan for the whole site and with applications for planning permission and listed building consent.

To ensure the most beneficial use of the site it should be treated as a single entity, with a master plan, and not be disposed of piecemeal. We shall seek to ensure that there is proper public consultation at all appropriate stages, before and after disposal.


The Regency Society would value your comments on this. You will receive a reply.

Ellen Street development: we've been here before

If you go down the steps by the pub at Hove Station, you come to the site for a likely and very large development between Ellen Street and Conway Street, one of Hove’s less attractive corners.

The plan is for a major new building of varying heights up to 18 storeys. providing commercial space plus 216 new “build to rent” flats. The development is being called “Hove Gardens”, presumably to reflect the provision of two large roof terraces at first floor level.

This is not the first attempt to create “Hove Gardens” on this site. Back in 2016 an application was submitted for a new building with 186 flats plus some office and retail space. This well-designed scheme was refused by the Planning Committee on the grounds that it did not offer enough affordable housing. In 2019 that decision was overturned on appeal. While there is always disappointment at the lack of affordable housing in new developments, this outcome had a good side to it - the attractive design could go ahead

However, the site was then sold and the new owner decided not to build the approved scheme. Instead they have submitted this one.

While the Regency Society fully supports the principle of a large-scale, mixed use development on this site, we are disappointed by the proposed design and further by a complete lack of affordable housing.

You can read our full comments here.


Heads up on possible city centre housing sites

The Brighton and Hove city plan recognises the need for significant amounts of new housing to be developed. Much of this need will be met by large scale developments such as those currently underway at Circus Street and Lewes Road.  However some contribution will come from smaller schemes. We have looked at two such schemes recently.

One application is for outline permission for 9 new houses at Sussex Place, just north of the Circus Street development. This former industrial site already has permission for a block of flats.  We believe that the new proposal will result in a much better use of the site but we will look closely at the full details when an application is made for full planning permission.

Meanwhile, not far away is another small scheme being suggested in the North Laine Conservation Area. It is on a vacant plot towards the eastern end of Gloucester Road currently used for parking. If this scheme gets the go-ahead it will not only provide new homes but may also protect the conservation area against the visual impact of the large new building on the site of the former Astoria Theatre in Gloucester Place.


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.


Nicola Turner Inman, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts (Projects) at Royal Collection Trust unpacks, literally and metaphorically, the treasures.

With little time to spare the stunning overdoors at the far end of the Banqueting Hall were freshly in place for the Regency Society to enjoy while sipping wine after the Antony Dale lecture (photo above).

As you will know many of the original contents of the Pavilion were removed by Queen Victoria when she set up the family home elsewhere, but, over time, many items were returned. However, not all.  Those on display now are on loan from the East Room of Buckingham Palace while it undergoes reservicing.  They are George IV's acquisitions and commissions for his Brighton pleasure palace.

Nicola took us on a lively tour through the history of the Royal Collection and George IV's eye for stunning design of eclectic influence.  Apparenty the King took advantage of the breakup of the French aristocratic collection thus bringing together his passion for French decorative art and the orient.

The six porcelain pagodas share the side walls of the Music Room as he intended. The Orleans jars, Chinese porcelain, with French bronze gilded bases altered in England to be gas lamps, stand in the front corners of the room. The gilded clock and Chinese porcelain candelabras on the fireplace mantel further embellish the room.  Other rooms have also benefitted from the loan and no doubt deserve a visit. It is said that the Royal Pavilion looks more magnificent than it has ever done since the reign of George IV.

We are told that it is the Queen's generosity that has enabled this exhibition. Nicola has been winning messenger.

Photos: Robert Ashby, John McKean, Kate Ormond

Members met on a cold wet night in February to discuss how we would like our city to change for the better and what the Regency Society might do about it.

Angela Devas and John McKean introduced the evening with brief presentations suggesting ideas we might like to think about. If you would like to see their presentations you can download them here.

Everyone agreed we want a city which is friendly to people (and less friendly to traffic), streets where children can play, better green spaces and more trees. It was an animated, friendly and remarkably consensual discussion!

What should the Regency Society do? We want a much higher profile in the city, the capacity to attract younger people, and next year's events should have a strong environment/climate emergency theme. We would also like to think about running some projects in which people can get involved: ideas included developing pocket parks and tree planting.

We agreed that we would like more conversations like this - and indeed an opportunity to continue the one started tonight.

Everyone then answered three questions individually about future ‘conversation’ events, how you would like to get involved with the RS and feedback to the committee on any topic. If you were not able to be at the meeting but would nonetheless like to answer these questions (or comment on any issue) you can do so online here.

You can download a full summary of the discussions here.

Image: Brighton Festival Children's Parade 2019 by John McKean

Big changes are planned on the campus of Sussex University.

Five existing residential buildings will be demolished, together with a health centre.  This will result in a loss of 852 student bed spaces. On the other hand, new buildings are proposed in their place which will make more intense use of the site  and provide 1,921 new bed spaces, a new health and wellbeing centre and a new library.

The buildings which will be demolished pay homage to Sir Basil Spence’s design for the university’s first buildings, such as the Grade I listed Falmer House. However, they were probably not designed by Spence and are certainly not listed. Nor are they located near his original building. They are tucked away in the north west corner of the campus amidst a range of differing designs that have been used for more recently built student housing.

The Regency Society has no objection in principle to the demolition. However, we are disappointed by the somewhat unimaginative designs for their replacements.

The new library is seen as the focal point for the re-development. Its circular shape is justified by architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley with the argument that a circle “can represent the notions of totality, wholeness, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement …”. Well, it is a university!

At a more mundane level, we welcome the University’s attempt to follow the City Plan by housing more of its students on campus. Hopefully this will help to ease the growing pressure on housing in central areas of the city, and to reduce the much-disliked phenomenon of “studentification”.  We also welcome the scheme’s efforts to minimise the loss of existing trees and to include considerable amounts of new landscaping.

To learn more about the plans, click here.

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.

. . . 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.