Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Conference Centre for Black Rock?

The Brighton Centre on King's Road, the City's main venue for conferences, exhibitions, shows, is not ideally placed. It occupies a prime seafront site that  would be better utilised for buildings that  take full advantage of the southerly aspect, i.e. the sea views and proximity to the beach. One would have thought that the station site would have been a better option for a multi-event centre likely to attract visitors from a wide area. 

However it is where it is and does have the advantage that attendees can arrive and leave in three different directions, north, east, and west and quickly access  a variety of modes of transport. It is now over 35 years old, and needs replacing, but the site at Black Rock proposed for its replacement does not enjoy even this limited advantage. The entire audience, which could be as much as 10,000, will all have to travel eastwards along the Madeira Drive as the first section of their journey home. One can imagine that, on a cold or wet winter's evening, not many will fancy a mile and a half stroll along the seafront in the face of the prevailing wind; so how is this number of people going to be transported?

One Councillor has airily mentioned "park & ride" yet it only requires a few quick calculations to show that in the worse case scenario it would take over a 100 double-decker buses, one leaving every 10 minutes, nearly 17 hours to transport a capacity audience away from a Black Rock venue. This is why the site is better suited to a use that attracts a smaller number of people over a longer time frame and who then depart over a longer time frame. This type of usage, such as hotels and leisure centres for example, in which the seafront location can be a positive asset, also avoids  heavy peaks in transport demand.  

Palace Pier to Black Rock
The Black Rock Site

Monday, 24 November 2014

A plaque to Sir Charles Barry

Charles Barry was apprenticed to Lambeth architects, Middleton & Bailey at age 15, did the Grand Tour, and set up on his own in the early 1820's when he received several commissions from the Church Building Commissioners. The last of these was St. Peter's, Brighton, in the Gothic Revival style. Concurrently with St. Peter's he was designing St. Andrew's (see above in Waterloo St. Hove) in the Italianate style. 

Unveiled by the City Mayor on 8th November 2014.

Brighton kept Barry very busy in the 1820's, reflecting its growing popularity as a seaside resort. He also designed the Attree Villa in Queen's Park, now demolished, and the Royal Sussex County Hospital, shortly to be demolished. St. Peter's and St. Andrew's, both grade I listed, will soon therefore be the only remaining examples of Barry's work in Brighton. He is said to have eventually taken a dislike to these early works.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Stanmer Water Catcher

View looking west showing the section added in the 1890s
High in the woods to the north-west of Stanmer village are the grade II listed remains of a rare victorian water-catcher.  About 70 metres long and 12 metres wide it was built in 1870-5 to the design of Thomas Jones, estate foreman, to supply water for Stanmer House and the estate buildings. 

It is constructed of brick, cement and a mixture of tar and sand and was enlarged to the west in the 1890s. The brick divider between the sections can be seen above. The surface was coated with tar and sand in the 1930s. It was originally surrounded with timber walls carrying a slate roof from which rainwater was channeled down on to the surface of the catcher. Below the surface are three 1 metre deep tanks said to contain 40,000 gallons each. There is a gully along one side, an overflow at the north-east corner, and the remains of a filter system to the south end.

It was first listed in 1999. OS map ref. TQ 3335 0978.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Free WiFi coming to public buildings

From next March visitors to more than 50 public buildings and offices across the city will be able to access free WiFi. Sites will include the Brighton Centre, Portslade Village Centre, Hove Town Hall, King Alfred Leisure Centre, Foredown Countryside Centre, St Luke's swimming pool, youth centres and the seafront office.

The City Council won government investment to provide improved digital connections and Brighton & Hove are one of only 17 places across the UK to be selected for the super connected cities programme which complements the innovation and energy of the growing digital economy.

Funding has been provided by Broadband DeliveryUK through the government’s super-connected cities programme. Other projects in the city include a broadband voucher scheme where businesses can apply for a grant to improve their broadband connection, and a 'digital exchange' to offer ultrafast low-cost broadband for local creative and digital companies, based in New England House.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Funding bid for Stanmer

B&H City Council and the South Downs National Park Authority, have submitted a bid for £5.9 million to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore Stanmer’s historic farm buildings and bring them back into use.

The council is leading on plans for the Stanmer Park and Estate Restoration Project which has the aim is to restore the park’s landscape and buildings, protect natural features and encourage wildlife. A separate bid of £6 million was submitted to the 'Parks for People' fund in the summer to carry out improvements and restorations in the rest of the park.

There are 27 listed buildings in this park, from the big house to the village cottages. At the heart of the estate lie 18 agricultural buildings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. These are in urgent need of restoration and currently closed to the public. They include include cattle shelters, a dovecote dating back to 1615, a dairy, an 18th century walled garden and a Grade 2 Sussex Long Barn. Together they tell the story of farming in this part of the South Downs over the past 250 years.

Inside the barn
Plans include a new visitor centre and a base for the South Downs National Park Authority’s local ranger team.

If approved, the funding would be spent in a five year investment programme estimated at £11.9 million, starting with drawing up detailed designs with the help of the public and partners. Development work would begin in February which is when the outcome of the bid is expected.