Monday, 23 December 2013

The Circus Street development


Up until the 1930's the area bounded by Carlton Hill to the south, Circus Street to the west, Sussex Street to the north and the now non-existent Carlton Row to the east comprised a warren of mean houses dating from the early 19thC.  They were clustered around insanitary courts and twittens and by the 1930's had been classified as slums, compulsorily purchased by the Council and, apart from the  Circus Street School, demolished. Among the premises lost was a chimney sweeps, a public house, general store, newsagent, and sawdust merchant.

On the cleared site the Municipal Market, later the Fruit & Vegetable Market was erected (see above). A remaining vacant site in the south-east corner became a small NCP car park. The lower part of Carlton Hill was renamed as Kingswood Street. In 2005 the market closed and the building has become increasingly derelict.

Planning Application BH2013/03461 by Cathedral Limited proposes a high density mixed-use development on the site which reproduces something of the original grain of twittens and interconnected courts as shown in the schematic plan below.

It is an appealing idea to refer to the original character of Brighton's townscape. However the buildings proposed for the site are 2 to 6 floors higher than nearby buildings and, seen from the Valley Gardens, will loom unattractively over the elegant houses in Grand Parade and degrade their roofline. The drawing below gives some idea of the extent of the effect. 

Strangely, the site is owned by the Council but the height of the development proposed seems to contravene the Council's own Tall Building policy since this is not a scheduled Tall Buildings (over 6 stories) Area. This may reflect the Council's need to cram the maximum number of housing units on to any available site to satisfy the Government housing policy. Perhaps the blame needs to be laid at the Government's door.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Church Hill, Patcham, Feb.2009
The flint cottages on the left date from the early 19thC. Church Hill was originally known as Spring Street after a watercourse which flowed from the pond outside All Saints Church. At the bottom of the hill this stream  joined the Wellsbourne, which flowed down the London Road valley to Pool Valley and the sea.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT)


The BOAT is one of those rare development proposals that seem to attract almost universal support in the City. It was the brainchild of playwright Adrian Bunting who died in May this year and left £18,000 as seed funding. Five of his close friends took up the campaign and Dyke Road Park, Adrian's favoured location, was settled on as the best site. The Council was already consulting publicly on uses for the abandoned bowling green and the Friends of Dyke Road Park were proposing a Community Garden. On hearing about the theatre proposals however, the Friends abandoned their garden plans and threw their weight behind BOAT. The result is the recently filed planning application BH2013/03930. 


Simulated view from the rose garden showing the 'cut & fill' terracing. The horizontal surfaces are laid with astroturf; the vertical surfaces reinforced with wooden sleepers

Friday, 13 December 2013

The York Building

Built in 1884 as the 'York Place Higher Grade School' this is a high quality building by local architects Simpson & Sons built to high specifications in typical Brighton Board School style. It was one of the first Higher grade schools built in the south and provided the direct antecedent of state secondary education.

Viewed from the green behind St. Peter's the York building rises imposingly above the cobble-fronted cottages and is complemented by the castellated gateway in York Place. It is directly adjacent to the North Laine and Valley Garden Conservation Areas and its roofline and upper stories  are an important feature of the historic townscape of the area.

The building lies within the City College site which is the subject of outline planning application BH2013/01600. This application which calls for the demolition of the York Building came before the planning committee on the 11th December with a recommendation to grant from the Council's planning department. The Council officer presenting the application described the York building as of "limited townscape interest". At the end of the debate, by the casting vote of the Chairman, the Committee was minded to grant the application.

Thus does another part of old Brighton seemed doomed to become a heap of wasteful rubble . . . .

The Gateway

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hannington Lane gets go-ahead

The city’s planning committee yesterday approved the plans for the redevelopment of the old Hannington's service yard to provide new retail units, homes, offices and a 26 room hotel. 

One of the area’s gems, the 17th century Puget’s Cottage, hidden for decades behind an electricity sub-station and another building, will also be revealed to public view and preserved as part of the 21st.C new Lane development. 

The plans are also aimed at reducing the area’s carbon footprint as the new buildings will have features such as communal heating systems, solar panels, energy-efficient materials and lighting, rainwater harvesting and recycling facilities.

The new pedestrian shopping lane from Meeting House Lane to Brighton Place will provide 14 new retail or eating outlets, with seven homes above and two floors of office space. Some buildings in Brighton Square will be demolished to create a boutique hotel and a new four storey building to provide retail with three flats above.

Permission was also granted to build an additional storey on buildings in Brighton Square to create seven three-storey town houses. The square will be renovated, with refurbished shop fronts and new planting, including four silver birch trees.

Because of the historic nature of the site, which lies on top of an ancient raised beach, archaeological excavations will take place and be recorded.


Monday, 9 December 2013

A new cross for St. Bartholomews.


For nearly 140 years the stone cross surmounting the south apex of St. Bartholomews has had to withstand everything that the elements can throw at it at a height of 140 feet. So no surprise perhaps that a recent inspection revealed some structural deterioration. Unfortunately repairs in situ were found to be impracticable and a new cross will need to be commissioned. (Dare one suggest fibre-glass?). Following removal of the present cross the vertiginous scaffolding will need to be removed and re-erected when the new cross is ready.