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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.

The trouble with compromise: Sea Lanes tries again

There are many supporters of this scheme for our seafront and it’s not difficult to understand why. It’s appealing in many ways and the changes made in the latest application are indeed improvements. But it’s an unfortunate clash with our hopes for Madeira Arches. Perhaps, in this case, there can be no compromise.

When considering the latest application we reviewed our comments on the first one.  We had objected to it on a number of grounds the main one being the need for a holistic approach on the re-development of Madeira Drive. This matched the position of Historic England.  How would the proposal impact on Madeira Arches both in terms of winning funding to carry out the repairs and the viability and long term enjoyment of the unique and treasured Victorian terrace?  We also considered the viability of the Sea Lanes scheme that left us with questions that, as yet, have no answer.

Interesting it is that both schemes require commercial support, the arches for maintenance and Sea Lanes for financial sustainability.  For Madeira Arches there is an intention to create outlets within some of the arches while still maintaining the covered promenade.  For Sea Lanes it is one and two storey units offering offices, refreshments and shops. What would be the impact of both plans running competitive outlets? Do we want such change a of tone along that bit of seafront that presently provides wide views out to sea, unobscured by buildings and peaceful strolls, removed from the bustle of the pier and the marina?  It’s over development in our minds and there can be no compromise in this case.  Therefore we have again objected to the application.

Unfortunately the application is going to planning committee on 3rd April with a recommendation 'minded to approve'. This is despite Historic England and the Heritage Team opposing it.

Below is the Regency Society's objection submitted to the Planning Department:

“The Regency Society objected to the previous scheme and fully supports the Planning Committee's reasons for refusing it. The revised scheme concentrates on the design and materials for the proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive. It also provides improved views and access ways from the roadway through to the beach.  The pool itself has also been moved a little further north. As a result, the scheme is somewhat better than the previous proposal.

However, it does nothing to address the reasons for which the previous scheme was refused.  The proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive will have an adverse impact on the neighbouring listed buildings and on the character of the conservation area. We believe that there is a serious risk that a scheme of this kind would reduce the Council’s chances of obtaining grant funding for the restoration of the Madeira Arches.”


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.

The Old Ship Hotel changes with the times

Big changes are planned for the Old Ship Hotel.  It is the oldest hotel in Brighton, first recorded as such in 1665.  The assembly rooms, well known for hosting a Niccola Paganini concert in 1831, date from 1767. They were listed grade II* in 1952.

Extensions have been added over the years but this application suggests the grandest yet. The hotel garage in Black Lion Street will be demolished to make way for 54 additional bedrooms.  In Ship Street, the rather dead street frontage is to be reconfigured to provide retail units and the unsightly external fire escape enclosed.

On the front elevation there is to be a single storey mansard roof extension towards the western end of the building. Additionally, out of sight from the street, a swimming pool with a retractable roof is to be installed in the inner courtyard.

The Old Ship did not become the oldest hotel in Brighton without moving with the times. We welcome these improvements and hope that they will help to ensure it continues to play an important part in Brighton’s role as a major seaside resort.

Please read the Society's comment to the council on this application.


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.

This month the Regency Society Planning Forum considered just four applications that together propose more than 1800 residential units for the city. This is not a usual cluster of applications but, like buses, they can bunch up.

New housing in the city - is there another way?

Increasingly, objections to new housing schemes target issues like ‘not in keeping with surrounding properties’ and added ‘traffic congestion’.  There’s no question, If the applications under consideration actually get built the city will look very different, something difficult to prevent in an area bound by sea and the South Downs.  There are, however, those who disagree with this conclusion.

The largest is Toad’s Hole Valley suggesting up to 880 low-rise units (40% affordable) plus a secondary school, GP surgery, community centre and workspaces.  This is an outline planning application that seeks to establish whether the proposed development would be acceptable to the local planning authority. If successful, a detailed application is submitted. Please see application here . (You will see around 290 documents. Scroll down to the Design and Access Statements. Tick the two documents. View them using the button to the right of the document.)

Not far behind in number of residential units is a full planning application for the Sackville Trading Estate and Hove Goods Yard.  It offers 604 mostly high-rise apartments, all for rent, and 265 residential apartments with flexible levels of care for elderly people.  The scheme, if agreed, will dramatically alter the scale of the area and create a towering new neighbourhood, not immediately easy to digest and that we may see happening in other parts of the city.  Please see application here . (Scroll down to Design and Access statement Section 1, view and refer to contents page. Choose the aspects of the plan that you're interested in, return to list and select. View using buttons on the right.)

The remaining  units, on two different sites, are being brought forward by a joint venture between Brighton and Hove City Council and Hyde Housing to deliver 1000 affordable homes across the City over the next 5 years or so. These sites will provide 50% shared ownership and 50% affordable rent.

One is on land east of Coldean Lane, above Varley Hall, providing 250 units, many of which are family homes. The scheme provides play space and green areas as well as a path into Stanmer Wood.  Pedestrian refuges and reduced speed limits on Coldean Lane will, it is hoped, make safe crossing the road to access the village and its amenities.  Please see application here.  (Select the one Design and Access statement and view using button on right.)

The other scheme will provide 111 units on a brownfield site in Clarendon Place in Portslade. Measures to encourage a car free life style, such as membership to the city car club, a cycle voucher and a season ticket on city buses, will be offered to early residents.  Please see application here.  (Select all five Design and Access statements and view.)


The Regency Society will not be submitting comments of objection or praise for any of these proposals (although comments on Toad’s Hole Valley may come later). This implies a degree of approval in the context of the priorities facing the city.  Overall we welcome 604 rent-only apartments and 361 affordable homes.



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.


Proposed Marina 40 storey tower now down to 28

One of the most controversial planning decisions in Brighton and Hove in recent years was the approval for a 40-storey residential tower in the outer harbour at Brighton Marina. This is the area south of the fitness centre, bowling alley and casino that will be constructed from the seabed.

New plans for the site are currently being prepared which will provide 800 new homes, including a tower of just 28 storeys and underground parking. The developers, Brighton Marina Group, aim to create a “piece of the city” on the waterfront.

The buildings will rise from the level of the walkway along the sea wall enabling a much needed, new pedestrian entrance to the Marina from the beach and Madeira Drive. This flat public pedestrian walkway will link to the existing boardwalk.

The new buildings will be finished in re-constituted stone, rather than brick or render and the landscaped squares designed to withstand the severe climate.

Further details of the designs are to be released for consultation on Wednesday 9thJanuary at the Malmaison Hotel in the Marina, between 4pm and 8pm.




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.

Penthouses on flat roofs: what justifies approval or non-approval?

Views from the i360 show us a lot of tall flat roofed housing blocks in the city. At the same time, Brighton knows it can pull into the city, Londoners who can afford to buy the pricey penthouse properties that are increasingly being proposed. Will this become a trend soon to fill the planning department’s pile of building applications? What might be the justifications for approving some and not others? This month the Planning Forum considered two such proposals.


Hove Manor on Hove Street is a 1930s block of flats in Old Hove Conservation area. Its narrow south end is one block from Kingsway near the King Alfred Centre. Presently seven stories, the application proposes an additional storey to create three very large rooftop flats and points out the nearby precedent at Viceroy Lodge that is now eight stories following similar additions. The application shows distant views of the proposal in order to demonstrate the visual impact on the neighbourhood. The intended cladding and fenestration have no relationship to the existing structure as can be seen in the photos below.

The details above have been taken into consideration when making a decision, however the Regency Society has not commented on this application, indicating neither support nor objection.


The Albemarle on Marine Parade is a 1970 mixed-use block of eight storeys with ground level parking, a bar, restaurant and nightclub on the first floor and 36 flats on the top six levels. The existing roof has a single storey lift motor room. It sits on a prominent site on the Brighton seafront near the pier. The proposal is to create four 2-bedroom 2-level apartments on the roof.  The two level units are intended to mask the existing protruding lift machinery as the lift will serve only the lower floor of the new units.

The application states that in design terms the existing building is bland to all elevations, its proportions are crude giving it a monolithic and heavy appearance, and  it contributes little to its local setting. The intention of the proposal is to transform the building “to create a landmark building worthy of its setting”.

As with Hove Manor the roof apartments are set back and the cladding and fenestration have no relationship to the existing structure.

The Regency Society has objected to this proposal on the grounds that this building is already too high in relation to its neighbours and the proposal for two extra floors will make its impact even more inappropriate, thus failing in its attempt  “to create a landmark building worthy of its setting”

Please see our submitted objection below.

The Regency Society objects to this proposal. The application states that the plan aims to transform a dull building into one “worthy of its setting”. The existing height and bland appearance of The Albemarle offers a visually discouraging impact on the seafront architecture of Marine Parade. Already out-of-keeping with its surrounds the proposal now seeks to extend that incompatibility by adding an additional two stories that relate in design to nothing that respects the style of the area. Furthermore, an unwelcome precedent may be set and penthouses on the Brighton seafront will not contribute to the housing crisis. This proposal fails in its attempt to transform the building to become an asset within the townscape.


Massive builds changing Davigdor Road

This application is for a significant site on Davigdor Road along the stretch westward from the Montefiore Hospital, Preece House and the new Artisan apartments. Presently, between the latter two, is a relatively small building overwhelmed by its neighbours.

The proposal is to provide enlarged office space for IMEX, presently on Ellen Street in Hove, and additional housing above, all within a part 5 storey, part 9 storey building with underground parking.

The application states, “The vision for this development is to relate and compliment the local environment, (by) complimenting the recently constructed Artisan block with another clean and crisp building that has its own distinct identity.”

The Regency Society opposes this application for its failure to respond sensitively to the surrounding architecture. The tower will appear higher than its drawings suggest; the slope on the east side, apparently driven by an attempt to comply with a covenant around light, is incompatible with the overall design; and the massing is inelegant, creating a structure that risks dominating what is already there. Furthermore, for all that bulk, the affordable housing element is only 18%.