Monday, 16 January 2017

Restoration of the Corn Exchange & Studio Theatre

BHCC has appointed R. Durtnell & Sons Ltd. as the contractor for the major refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. This is Phase 1 of 3 aimed at restoration & refurbishment of the whole Pavilion Estate and work will start early next month

R. Durtnell & Sons Ltd was founded in 1591 and is the UK’s oldest construction company having been grown by successive generations of the Durtnell family.  They have a proven track record in delivering a number of high-profile heritage restorations and cultural projects including Dulwich Picture Gallery, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Brighton College’s music school. The firm is based in Westerham, Kent.

The transformation of the Corn Exchange, formerly the Prince Regent’s Riding house, will reveal and restore stunning and previously hidden heritage features as well as providing extra seating and an impressive new viewing gallery.  Major improvements to the Studio Theatre, once a supper room, will include balcony seating, a new artists’ creation space and a cafĂ© opening onto a plaza at street level.

The majority of funds towards the £21m phase one costs have already been secured from a range of sources, including major contributions from National Lottery players via Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as commitments from a number of charitable trusts and individual donors, council capital funding and a public works loan secured by the council on behalf of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. Fundraising will continue throughout the build.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Free Sunday at the Royal Pavilion

Free entry day at the Royal Pavilion seemed to be very popular this year notwithstanding the weather. At 2.30pm the queue for entry stretched out of the Indian Gate, along Pavilion Buildings and up North Street.

By joining the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation you get free entry all the year round and the ability to view the Pavilion at leisure and under less crowded conditions.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust

Next week councillors at Brighton & Hove City Council’s policy, resources and growth committee will decide on whether to establish a trust from April 2018, together with a 25 year funding agreement, to be reviewed every five years. It would mean management of all the city’s museums transferring into the charitable organisation with ownership of the buildings and the city’s collections staying with the council.

The trust would include the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Hove Museum & Art Gallery, the Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor.

If agreed, the council would create an interim board of trustees, to include councillors. Staff working for the service would transfer to the new trust once it is established. The taxable benefits of trusts - a tried and tested model for museum services - include gift aid on admissions, business rate relief and cultural exemption on income. The trust model came out as the most financially sustainable long-term for the service, with a surplus of around £250,000 projected by 2022/23. The council will support the new trust in its first three years of business to allow it time to develop new sources of income.

Due to central government budget reductions which are affecting all council services, the city’s museums, including the Royal Pavilion, could face having their council funds reduced from £1.145million in 2016/17 to £753,000 in 2019/20. In addition, a building condition survey in 2015 identified a need for £1m a year for repairs and maintenance. Many of the buildings are heritage listed. A trust would have more scope than the council to raise funds to support the maintenance budget.

Brighton & Hove's museums service is one of only 23 in the country to be part of Arts Council England's Major Partner Museum Programme. It is also the lead organisation for museums development in the sector across the South East, supporting 300 museums. The city’s five museums hold World Art, Natural History and Decorative Art collections which are nationally designated and internationally significant, as well as other collections, including archaeology, fashion, fine art and local history.

The Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is also part of the ambitious Royal Pavilion Estate heritage project to reinvigorate and reconnect the buildings and landscape of the Estate and improve the centrepiece of Brighton & Hove’s cultural quarter. Phase one works involve a major refurbishment of the nationally-important Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange.

'Boris bikes' for Brighton

BHCC has awarded a three year contract to run the city’s new bike share scheme to UK owned operator Hourbike. Hourbike, who operate sharing schemes in other cities including Liverpool, Oxford and Reading, was selected as the preferred bidder after a tender process which attracted a total of four proposals. The company will be responsible for managing and maintaining the service, similar to the so called ‘Boris bikes’ in London, as well as supplying the bikes and associated equipment.

Based on Hourbike’s initial projections, the scheme is expected to bring new revenue to the council of between £20,000 and £25,000 a year.

The sharing scheme should be up and running by June 2017, with up to 430 new Social Bicycles (“SoBi”) smartbikes available for residents and visitors to hire from hubs and docking stations at 50 locations across the city.

The scheme will offer a range of tariffs to suit both regular and occasional users. Hire costs will start from £2 per trip or £8 per day with users having the option to pay as they go on a 3p per minute tariff (minimum £2 charge) or purchase an annual membership at £72, which includes 30 minutes free use every day.

Popular sites including the seafront and Brighton Station have been suggested as potential hubs with the scheme also operating along the A27 corridor, heading out to the university campus sites at Falmer.

The Patcham Protest - update

Previous post:- The Patcham Protest

The Council's planning committee this afternoon unanimously turned down McCarthy and Stone's application for a large development of 44 flats for the frail elderly in Old London Road in Patcham. No Councillor spoke in favour of the development.

The developer has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and a public hearing is provisionally scheduled for June.