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.
Each society forms its own view on the applications and decides what action, if any, to take.
In our latest meeting we considered the following issues:
The Brighton Astoria story staggers on
The Astoria building in Gloucester Place, Brighton was built in 1933 to a design by cinema architect, Edward A Stone. Some Georgian and Victorian houses were demolished to make way for it. It was designed as both a cinema and a theatre but was operated, mainly as a cinema and then a bingo hall, finally closing in 1997.
In 2000 it was listed (Grade II) and the listing statement describes it as “ particularly unusual in its French art deco style”.
Since then various schemes have been proposed to develop it for office or residential use. In 2011 demolition was approved together with designs for a six-storey business centre to replace it; the architects were the Conran Partnership. Most recently a residential scheme was approved on appeal.
The planning authority is currently considering an application to modify this approved plan, including significant changes to the external appearance.
The original building has now been empty for over a decade during which time it has had several owners. Its current condition reflects the neglect it has suffered. Historic England has indicated that it has no objection to demolition nor to this latest plan. The Regency Society shares this view. It would be good to see the site re-developed to provide much needed homes.
Two contrasting housing schemes
The Regency Society has tried to support housing development in the city to provide much needed homes. This month we have looked at two small schemes, both in Portslade.
The first is at 33 Mile Oak Road. This site currently has just one dwelling. The proposal is to demolish it and build seven new homes. The plans show a pleasingly “casual” layout of the site and the houses themselves have a mix of interesting designs. We welcome this increase in housing density on the site and hope that the application will be approved.
The second site is in Clarendon Place, off North Street, Portslade. At present it is an unattractive industrial area. The plan is to build a terrace of four, three-storey houses and a small office building. The floor plans suggest that three of the four new houses will be very pokey. This application poses two contrasting questions. On the one hand, is this rather run-down industrial area a suitable place to build new houses? On the other hand, could a development of this kind kick-start the re-generation of the area? Regardless of the answers to these questions, we hope the planners will reject the scheme because of the very poor standard of housing that it offers.