Friday, 26 May 2017

Start of summer for City lifeguards

Teams of lifeguards will take up their posts on Brighton & Hove’s beaches this weekend officially kicking off the summer season. 

The lifeguards patrol the city’s beaches from the Marina to Hove Lagoon and as far as Saltdean during the summer school break.  
The team of male and female lifeguards, aged between 17-55, have all successfully completed a rigorous beach lifeguard qualification and a week-long  induction course acquiring a wide range of skills from assessing sea and weather conditions and dealing with beach hazards, to carrying out first aid and water rescues.  Last year, the seafront team saved 33 lives and gave help or safety advice  to over 27,000 people.

The city is also celebrating the start of the summer season this week as Brighton Central and Hove Lawns beaches are among 14 of the South East region’s beaches to win prestigious Blue Flag awards while Saltdean beach has scooped a Seaside Award.  A total of 68 of the UK’s beaches have been awarded Blue Flags in 2017.

The awards, managed by Keep Britain Tidy, are the quality marks for the UK’s beaches and mean those visiting them can be sure that they are clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as the tough international bathing water quality standards.

Caroline Lucas talks policy and policing in Brighton

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Piling gets underway at the RSCH

Piling rig & crane
Redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital has passed another milestone. The first piles, that form part of the foundations for the Stage 1 Building at the north of the site, have been set in place. This is the first piece of true construction work for the building.

Although not visible, the foundation piles mark the transition from preparation to construction.
Foundation piles are large reinforced concrete columns that sit below ground level and support the weight of the building above. The piling works are starting in the north-west corner of the construction site and will continue through to November or December 2017, depending on how well the ground takes the piles. Once the piles in the north of the Stage 1 site are in place the first parts of the main excavation for the site will start, later in the summer of 2017.

The Stage 1 Building will stand on 413 piles in total. The piles on the northern boundary are being sunk to a depth of 33 metres. The piles that will support the building’s southern boundary, alongside Eastern Road, will be between 10 and 15 metres deep. The difference is caused by the natural slope of the site from higher elevations in the north to lower elevations in the south.

Piles for the building are formed by drilling a hole to the required depth. A reinforced steel cage is lowered into the hole and concrete is pumped in. Once the concrete has hardened the pile is capped, ready to support the building above.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The 107 year-old Council houses

The north end

The south end

These gems of the Tudor Revival style lurk in the little frequented and strangely named High Street, nos. 23 - 30. They tick all the boxes; half-timbering, gabled dormers, mansard roofs, stone-arched doorways, and mullioned windows. The narrow street makes them difficult to photograph and they are always partly obscured by cars.

They are grade II listed the description for which includes a mention of the scattered fenestration and that the individual units are designed to form an irregular and picturesque grouping by simple variations on a common type; only No.27 is really unique, forming a central point of emphasis. The other units are assembled from a limited number of features and finishes.

Between Nos 28 and 29 is a round gable which bears a shield inscribed with the date 1910 and the Corporation's arms. All the cast-iron downpipes are original, one of which can be seen on the left. 

They were designed by local architects Clayton & Black and the ravages of time appear to have left them largely untouched. It would be good to be able to say the same of more modern buildings.

Friday, 19 May 2017

SE "Project of the Year" - the BA i360

The highly acclaimed Project of the Year accolade is presented by the R.I.C.S. to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area. British Airways I-360 not only scooped the prestigious title this year, it also won the 'Design through Innovation' and 'Tourism & Leisure' awards.

Brighton has a long tradition of expressing its identity through remarkable architecture and British Airways I-360 continues this tradition of celebratory structures. Not only has the project given the city a 21st  Century landmark with which to identify itself, it has created new jobs and spurred economic growth. The innovative form of funding used to build British Airways i360 means that Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) earns nearly £1 million per year for the city. These earnings are used for regenerative purposes, to breathe new life into forgotten areas and to give back to the city.

In urban design terms, the tower can be seen as an equivalent of an obelisk which traditionally was used to complete the bottom of an open-ended, three-sided plan, such as Regency Square. The height of British Airways i360 is half the length of the West Pier, while the visitor centre at its base, including the reconstructed Eugenius Birch-designed 1866 tollbooths and flanking stairs, stretches the width of Regency Square behind it. The tower, aligned on the central axis of Regency Square, creates a strong reference point from afar.

Seagulls Celebrations

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Freedom of the City for the Seagulls


Freedom of the City will be conferred on Brighton & Hove Albion’s manager and chairman this week in honour of the Seagulls’ success in promotion to the Premier League.

Manager Chris Hughton and chairman Tony Bloom will receive the honour at a special council meeting at Brighton Town Hall on Thursday 18 May at 3pm.

The city is still in celebratory spirits following the confirmation of the promotion last month and an amazing turn out on the streets for the Albion’s parade on Sunday.

At the meeting on Thursday afternoon, lead councillors will speak in support of the motion to award honorary Freedom of the City before all councillors vote to officially confer the title.

Chris Hughton took over as Albion manager in the middle of the 2014/15 season, helping retain the club’s place in the Championship. Last year the Albion missed out on automatic promotion only by goal difference, finishing third. Hull won the ensuing play-offs for the third promotion spot. This year the team gained automatic promotion finishing just one point behind Newcastle, a team that came down from the Premier League last year.

Brightonian Tony Bloom became club chairman in 2009, succeeding Dick Knight. He has personally invested millions into the club, including its home the Amex Community Stadium and training ground in Lancing.

Council meetings are open to the public but space in the chamber is limited and the councillors and club guests have to be given priority with regards to seating. To avoid disappoint, residents are encouraged to enjoy the ceremony by watching the live webcast rather than coming to the town hall

The East/West Divide

The old Free Butt Inn, Albion Street, looking very sad.

The Eagle, Gloucester Road, looking very lively.
Albion Street is situated at the north west corner of an area that was subjected to repeated slum clearances and redevelopment throughout the 20th.C. Many streets of 2 to 3 storey housing were demolished and replaced with the blocks of flats to be seen today. This area was situated in what was known as Hilly Laine. The rest of Hilly Laine survived and became a much sought-after area now known as Hanover. Hanover still supports many thriving pubs.

On the opposite side of the central valley North Laine also narrowly escaped demolition in the 60's thanks mainly to the efforts of BHCC Planning Director Ken Fines. This is now a lively mixed retail, commercial and residential area which is a favoured destination for both Brighton residents and visitors alike.

The current plans for the remodelling of Valley Gardens and its encircling road system has the aim of rendering the Valley Gardens more permeable to pedestrians west to east. and vice versa. Once completed perhaps some of the buzz of the west side will bleed into the east. It looks doubtful though that it will happen in time to save the Free Butt.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Brighton Square development

Awaiting approval are planning applications BH2017/00762 & 00768 which are for the change of use of 12 -16 Brighton Square from retail to a single restaurant and the installation of appropriate new shopfronts. The shops in question are those on the north side of the square, shown to the right in the above photo.

BH2017/00762 also applies for the installation in the centre of the square of a large awning to provide for sheltered dining. The central fountain would be removed and its dolphin sculpture moved to the central apex of the awning above the rainwater collecting pipe. In this position it seems that it will be largely invisible to passers-by at ground level.

Present view from no.16 looking SW.

Proposed 'awning' from no.16
The awning viewed from the terrace to the south.
The Regency Society has objected to these proposals: 

Another application BH2017/00797 refers to the flats above the shops and is for the replacement of the present hanging tiles and white weatherboarding with dark grey weatherboarding in place of tiles and for white painted render to the bays. Unfortunately this is already approved. It seem a completely unnecessary modification; merely chasing a modern fad. Weatherboarding never weathers so well as tiles and white cement render quickly becomes weather-stained.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Kemp Town slopes

With all attention being currently focussed on the Madeira Terraces the condition of the Kemp Town slopes is being overlooked. Yet their heritage value is similar to that of the Terraces without the complications of rusting iron work.

The above images are just a selection of some of the worst areas of deterioration.

If they were my garden walls I'd get a plasterer along very quickly to avoid the expense of a major rebuild in a few years.

Hannington Lane on track for completion mid 2018

View of proposed lane from Brighton Place

Work is progressing well on the creation of a new Lane in Brighton. Contractor Westridge Construction, hired by European retail real estate investment manager Redevco, has been removing the former Timpsons store on North Street brick by brick. This week passers-by were treated to a glimpse of the historic 17th century Pugets Cottage – revealed for the first time in 140 years – and a view through to what will be the new Hanningtons Lane.

Redevco started redeveloping the 1.3 acre site, which includes the former Hanningtons department store or ‘Harrods of Brighton’, in February. As well as a new Lane, the masterplan for Hanningtons Estate also includes the creation of a new entrance to the Lanes from North Street and the redevelopment of existing buildings to provide exciting new spaces for shops, restaurants and cafes.

Andrew Foulds, Portfolio Director at Redevco comments, “Our Masterplan approach should provide a catalyst for the whole area. The new Lane will provide contemporary spaces that retailers can’t find elsewhere, which will draw new names in and create a destination that helps support existing businesses. We have demolished a building at the rear of the site and reconfigured some existing space, but the demolition of Timpsons is an exciting milestone in the development programme.”

Redevco’s leasing agents KLM Retail and GCW are in discussions with target retailers and this exciting new retail and leisure destination is on track for completion mid 2018.

The area is an important landmark between the attractions of the Lanes, North Laine, East Street, the Cultural Quarter and Brighton Beach and Pier. The vision is to blend a visually unique and engaging scheme into the existing network of narrow alleyways, lanes, eclectic boutiques, restaurants and cafes/bars that already make Brighton so popular.

A new Archaeoiogy Gallery

The famous Hove amber cup
Thanks to the generous support of a private sponsor Brighton Museum is to get a new archaeology gallery.

The new gallery will be situated in one of the museum’s two local history galleries, Exploring Brighton, will close from 8 May 2017. Objects removed from Exploring Brighton will be considered for redisplay as part of a later refresh of the museum’s approach to telling Brighton & Hove’s stories.

Plans for the structure and content of the new gallery are still being developed but there will be a strong emphasis on the personal stories of Brighton & Hove ancestors.  The museum is working with scientists in the fields of archaeology and DNA profiling, to learn new things about the people who lived locally in the past.

Recent years have seen strong local support for the development of a gallery to showcase the city and region’s rich archaeological collections, particularly since the introduction of Prehistory to the national curriculum in 2014. These factors, and recent evaluation of visitors’ experience and engagement with the city’s collections at Brighton Museum, have demonstrated demand for an archaeology gallery,

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Toad's Hole Valley development - Brighton Society response

Aerial concept sketch
The Brighton Society's insightful response to the Council's draft Supplementary Planning Document can be read here.

Puget's Cottage begins to emerge.

This is the first time in over 200 years that the north elevation has been visible from North Street.

Other demolitions have rendered the south end of the roof visible from the west end of what will be Hannington's Lane. It will eventually be concealed again as Hannington Lane becomes built up.

Constable and Brighton.

Chain Pier Brighton 1826-27
Go visit the current exhibition at the Art Gallery if only to see this much-reproduced image "in the paint" so to speak. It is beautifully hung and lit and seems to make more of an impression here than it did in its normal home at Tate Britain.

The rest of the exhibition has also much of interest. The paintings are grouped according to Constable's three favourite walks from which he drew his inspiration; west to Shoreham, north to the Devil's Dyke and east to the Chain Pier. Everything is well lit and the information boards are succinct and easily read.

See also:
The Curator speaks about the Constable Exhibition
Blue plaque to John Constable unveiled
Rainstorm over the Sea

Monday, 8 May 2017

New Bins

New bin
Hundreds of new communal refuse bins will be rolled out in Brighton & Hove over the next few weeks, replacing those which have been badly damaged or broken.

The 330 bins were ordered after an audit last year which revealed that just under half of the 600-strong stock was ready for replacement.

The new 3,200 litre bins carry information signs letting residents know what can and can’t go into them and that CCTV operates in some areas as part of the council’s crackdown on fly-tipping.

Bulky waste can be taken to either of the Household Waste Recycling Sites, or via the chargeable bulky waste collection service provided by the council.  There are also several charities in the city which will take furniture and other items, with some offering free collection. They include The Martlets Hospice, British Heart Foundation, Emmaus and YMCA.

Trade waste is not allowed in any council provided bin, unless the business is taking part in the council’s new chargeable commercial waste service.

Preston Manor well-house

West elevation

South elevation

North elevation
The Preston Manor well-house was grade II listed in 1971 and doesn't look as if its had any attention since.

It dates from c.1735. It is rectangular in plan with an eastern extension probably originally a stable. The well inside is said to still survive surrounded by a low brick wall on which rests the remains of 19th.C cast-iron winding gear.  It has lost its original horse-operated iron pump and capstan.

It is situated in the grounds of the Preston Croquet Club. It needs careful preservation work, to be included in the purlieu of Preston Manor and treated as a historic attraction.