Monday, 28 December 2015

Suburban creep.

For many years Withdean Road and environs exhibited a semi-rural charm that made it a pleasure to visit. The elegant properties in country-house or Sussex farmhouse style were well set back from the road among plentiful trees, and many boundaries, fences, verges were informal and understated. 
All that is now changing and at a seemingly increasing rate.

The developers began to arrive a few years ago and, presumably having made offers too good to refuse, are demolishing fine 1930's houses to build their modernist white boxes set amongst hard landscaping where once there were trees and shrubberies.

Everywhere the seemingly de rigueur white, inscrutable, boundary walls are appearing,  contributing nothing to the streetscape when new, and positively detracting from it as they age and discolour.

Tivoli Crescent North
The corner of Dyke Road Avenue and Barrowfield Drive has changed beyond recognition.
Elsewhere trees are being lost;

and owners are indulging obtrusive fantasies in bright red brick.

On the plus side, Grand Design's "The Curve" is looking smarter and the owner has evidently decided white boundary walls are not for him.

The Curve.
Meanwhile the old Withdean Rd. still survives in a few places.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Horsdean site underway.

Work by Westridge Construction Ltd. started in September and is due for completion next June. It included boring under the A27 to connect the new permanent and existing transit Traveller sites to the wider sewerage network. This phase was due for completion about now, weather permitting.

View from the west

View from the south

View from the east

Access site in Horsdean Rec. for sewer-pipe boring. 

Improved barriers to Horsdean Recreation ground which has frequently had incursions of travellers. 
The project is being funded by a grant from Department of Communities & Local Government (originally £1.73M).

The costs to the city of dealing with unauthorised encampments over the last few years has been many hundreds of thousands of pounds. But that was for many more caravans or motor homes than the expanded Horsedean is designed to cope with. Horsdean will surely be fully-occupied by van-dwellers in all-year-round need. If despoilation of parks and open spaces is to be significantly reduced, new methods will have to be found for dealing with travellers just in search of a cheap holiday. The costs to the city look likely to continue.

See also:- Horsdean traveller site.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Seafront Shelter Hall progress

The photos show work underway to reconfigure the lower promenade around the Shelter Hall and provide foundations for the construction of a new seawall. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of March, weather permitting.

The Shelter Hall extends under the A259, one of the major routes in and out of the city. From 4 January,  a 50 metre section of  King's Road either side of West Street will be closed to allow for work to take place under the A259. The junction will include a dedicated filter for right turns into West Street for westbound traffic. Access to Churchill Square and car parks will be kept open.

Traffic travelling southbound down West Street and heading west on the seafront will need to turn right on Russell Road and use the Cannon Place/A259 junction.
Shared pedestrian and cycle access along the upper prom will be maintained at all times, as will access to the lower prom.

The total £10 million project involves rebuilding the historic Shelter Hall (a Victorian building originally designed to shield bathers from bad weather and hot sun) to become a flagship commercial location for the 21st century, creating a new walkway on the beach, enlarging the upper prom area and building new public toilets on the seafront.

Previous post: Rebuilding of the Seafront Shelter Hall.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Progress on the Waterfront Project

The Black Rock site
BHCC have appointed architects WilkinsonEyre to lead a team of world-renowned experts to develop a masterplan for the city's Waterfront project, an important element of which is the provision of a new conference and entertainment venue at Black Rock.  The site under consideration, next to the Marina, is owned by the BHCC.

WilkinsonEyre who  designed the famous Gateshead Millennium bridge and the Olympic Basketball Arena for London 2012, will carry out initial work to draw up a masterplan study of Black Rock and how it relates to the surrounding seafront sites.

Providing a new events venue will enable the Churchill Square shopping centre to be enlarged and extended to the Kings Road, so strengthening its position on the south coast and ensuring competing shopping centres do not take away market share. The architectural practices appointed to transform Kings Road & Churchill Square are ACME, who are currently completing Leeds Victoria Gate and a masterplan for Chester city centre; and Leonard Design Architects, who have played a key part in major regeneration schemes in London.

The masterplan will make sure the sites are developed to a high standard that enhances the city's heritage. Conservation groups will be involved to ensure consideration of the seafront's historic landscape is included in the plan.

The Council is also considering both day-to-day and event-specific transport options for the development. The proposals will seek to link Brighton station, existing hotels and tourism infrastructure with the development sites.

Recent negotiations between the Council and Standard Life Investments (the owners of Churchill Square) on the Waterfront development should enable an agreement to be put to the Policy & Resources Committee for approval in Spring 2016. This will allow contracts to be exchanged and work to begin in earnest.

Location of the Black Rock site in relation to the Kemptown CA.

Brighton Xmas Lights

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Station View

Looking east from the station forecourt is a great view that is denied to most people. This 1960s photographer must have been very tall or standing on a box.
On the left is the British Rail Goods Depot. This was built out on a platform to be level with the incoming goods line below the main station. The goods line is now submerged by the New England Development although the Greenway follows its route for a short section south of New England Road.

On the other side of Trafalgar Street is Bernard Luper, tailors, and a small corner of the Unique Garage, now 'Thrifty', a car rental business.

In the distance, beyond St. Peter's Church is the massed mid-19thC housing, built largely for railway workers; now known as Hanover and much sought after.

Three or four years ago, as part of the Station Gateway project the Council were considering  improvements to the canopy. They proposed discussions  with English Heritage and the Railway Heritage Trust to agree on what could be done to the listed structure to improve the passenger experience. One idea floated was to open up the view over Brighton on the eastern side by revamping the glazing and creating a resting area with seating. At that time it was intended to move the taxi queue elsewhere. Maybe if the taxis are moved to Terminus Road, as has recently been proposed,  the idea can have a new lease of life.

Looking west up Trafalgar St.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Brighton & Hove "on the rise"

Brighton & Hove has been named one of the best tourist locations in the world by users of travel website TripAdvisor.

Brighton & Hove features twice in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice™ awards for Destinations on the Rise for 2016. The awards highlight destinations that have seen the greatest increase in positive feedback and interest from the TripAdvisor community, year-after-year.

Brighton & Hove is the only UK location included in the category for the top ten destinations on the rise in the world for 2016, ranking sixth out of 10. In the category for the top ten destinations on the rise in Europe, the city ranks even higher in third place, just above the only other UK entry which is Liverpool.

Aquarium Terraces development approved

The city council’s planning committee today approved planning
application BH2015/02443 to redevelop and renovate the Aquarium Terraces, above Brighton’s Sea Life Centre.

It will see seven vacant units replaced with modern and sustainable buildings  to create a café, restaurants and Soho House members’ club. The new buildings will have large areas of glazing and green roofs.  Historic buildings and structures would be retained and refurbished, along with balustrading and iron railings.

An oval glass pavilion on the lower level of the site would be demolished to create a new café. The circular building on the upper level (shown above) will also be demolished and replaced with two new pavilions with a 10 metre gap between them.

The cafe and restaurants would be open to the public, while the members’ club would have a bar, open air plunge pool, changing rooms and a terraced area.

Under a planning agreement, the council has secured from the company £50,000 to improve transport locally – including real-time sign boards at three bus stops, plus better footways and cycle parking.

A further £32,000 would go to boost local employment and the developer would detail an employment and training strategy.  It would also undertake to maintain current pedestrian access to and across the site.

See also: Aquarium Terraces development 2

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Winter memories

Skating on a Frozen River. Oil. By Aert van der Neer, c1660.
Most of us in Brighton can only remember a handful of severe winters; winters when the temperature dropped several degrees below freezing and stayed there long enough to allow skating on Falmer pond. Nowadays very cold winters seem increasingly rare. Those wanting to experience such winters in their imagination can do little better than turn to the paintings of Dutch Golden Age painter Aeert van der Neer.

Aeert specialised in winter scenes and, painting in Holland in the last Little Ice-Age, had plenty of opportunity to hone his skills. There are about 65 of his paintings, including moonlit scenes (his other love), scattered around UK galleries, and Brighton Art Gallery has one of these. It can be seen on the staircase close to  "A Winter Landscape".