Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Royal Visit to Brighton 1928

The Duke & Duchess of York at the Pylons
A Royal Visit to Brighton 1928
A topical post by Paul Jordan of the Local History Centre about the visit to Brighton of Prince William's great grandparents.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Van Alen and the Giant Wheel

This view from the Palace Pier shows, in the right foreground, the south-west corner of Daltons Bastion. This bastion will be extended 8.4 metres southwards to receive the Wheel. When the wheel is built a western arc of it will obtrude into the right of the picture obscuring part of the Van Alen from this angle of view. Apparently there were no objections from architectural aficionados on this particular point. 

It is interesting to note that this photo was taken from a point on the pier approximately twice as far away from the Van Alen as  the Wheel will be but with a magnification of approximately 5 times. This photograph therefore gives a 2.5 times better view into the balconies than the riders of the Wheel will get. One is surprised the residents don't want to ban walking on the Pier!


Giant seafront ferris wheel approved

From the City Council's press release:

Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning committee this afternoon approved an application for the 45m-high structure, known as the Brighton Wheel. Developers are expected to start work soon and have the attraction ready during the main summer season. It is expected to attract around 250,000 customers a year. Permission is temporary for five years.  A condition of the consent is that the structure is removed by May 2016.

Located 100m east of Brighton Pier, at full capacity it would carry around 280 passengers in 36 cabins for an 11-minute ride.  Opening hours would generally be 10am to 11pm, every day, year-round.

A council spokesman said:  “We had to weigh up the pros and cons of this scheme and there were many people making representations on both sides.
“We felt that on balance the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, especially given that this is a temporary consent.  We’re still hopeful that the i360 viewing tower will be delivered at the West Pier site.  But for now this attraction will bring some benefits to the seafront and help our local businesses through the recession.”

Earlier post: brighton-o.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Planning Committee 27th April 2011

At their meeting today the City Council Planning Committee unanimously rejected an application for a Sainsbury Local store in Preston Village.

They approved the application for an observation wheel situated  east of the Palace Pier on Daltons Bastion, Madeira Drive, by 7 votes for, with 5 abstentions.  See also 'The Brighton "O"'.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

'Alice' and 'Adolf' concluded . . .

Since the earlier post here, all is made clear:-

VERY Brighton. Guildford and Oxford eat your hearts out . . . 

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Brighton "O"

The final application (BH2011/00764) for a temporary observation wheel is due to come before the Planning Committee on Wednesday afternoon with a recommendation for approval. It would be situated 110 metres to the east of the Palace Pier almost directly opposite the bottom of Madeira Place. It is proposed to be 45 metres high with 36 dangling gondolas each carrying up to 8 people. Who can doubt that if Brighton is to have such an attraction there could not be a better site for it. Situated between the Volk's Railway and the Palace Pier, it serves to confine this type of attraction in one area; it is easily accessible;  it is situated almost exactly half-way between the city's east and west borders, and thus in the optimum positon for viewing of the whole city; and it is surely the best site from purely aesthetic considerations.

The application is supported by the Conservation Advisory Group and 64 letters of support have been received by the planning department.  There are 49 letters of objection, almost all coming from properties near the west end of Marine Parade. Surprisingly another objector is the Regency Society which appears to have forgotten, in this case, its current drive to widen its appeal in the city. 

It is obvious that the nearer you live to any new development the more likely you are to find something to object about, but in this case the wheel will be separated from the nearest properties in Marine parade by two wide roads and the Aquarium terraces. The wheel is also further removed in that it is to be built on a platform projecting a further 13.4 metres out from the general south edge-line of the promenade. However this separation is not quite enough for the residents of the Van Alen apartments (the building seen on the right of the above drawing), 39 of whom  have signed a petition against the wheel, citing overshadowing, overlooking, and loss of privacy. These are really quite spurious objections. By the time the sun gets low enough to cast a shadow of the wheel on the Van Alen it will be near sunset; 'overlooking' will only be a problem if the occupants of the gondolas have any interest at all in the Van Alen, which seems unlikely; and 'loss of privacy' must surely presuppose they are all carrying powerful telescopes.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Pavilion tearoom gets 5 stars

View from the terrace of the tearoom
The Royal Pavilion tearoom  has been award the top score, 5 stars, in the Council's 'Scores on the doors' food- safety rating scheme. 

See Council press release for further details.

St.George's Day 2011

In Portslade Village

St. George's Day
Brighton Bits

Friday, 22 April 2011

Ancient & modern

The 1966 'Sussex Heights' soars above one of the few 190 year old cottages still hanging-on in Stone Street off Preston Street. These were probably built to house the small army of labourers and tradespeople needed to service the large houses in Regency Square, Sillwood Road, and Western Road before it became devoted to shopping. 

'Sussex Heights' is one of the tallest buildings on the south coast. It  dominates the city from many angles, although distance tends to lend a certain element of enchantment. It has 115 luxury apartments on 24 floors plus a penthouse. An "urban legend" circulates that many of the apartments are only occupied for the summer months and thus its contribution to the local economy is considerably smaller than might be imagined. 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Lesbians to take Brighton hotel to court.

Two lesbians who were denied a double room at a hotel are launching a legal challenge with the help of civil liberty advocates.
Rebecca Nash and Hope Stubbings were allegedly denied the hotel room at the Brunswick Square Hotel in Brighton because it only accepted 'couples and families'.
"Laws prohibiting hotels and guesthouses from discriminating against gay men and lesbians have been in place for four years now, but clearly the message still isn't getting through," said James Welch, legal director of Liberty, which is bringing legal proceedings against the hotel on the couple's behalf.
"With the Equality Act 2010 now in force, my clients intend to show that they have as much right to enjoy a quiet weekend away together as any other couple."

Read more from article by Ian Dunt in

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The seafront 'paintathon' has begun . . .

Work started at the Palace Pier only a few days ago and seems to have progressed along the promenade at a great rate. So for a little while the railings will look a lot better. Perhaps this is the most one can hope for when dealing with cast-iron in a seaside location.

Spring in Brighton

A nice video from THEPODULE in 2008.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Plans to develop empty Kings Road hotel

On the corner of Little East Street stands the Grade II listed Dr. Brighton's and next door is the boarded-up Charter Hotel which occupied nos.12-15A Kings Road.  It is quite an eyesore and there are now proposals to convert it into; 14 serviced apartments catering for corporate guests, a ground floor bar and restaurant, and a basement bar/nightclub.

The proposals retain the present front elevations apart from the addition of an extra storey. This entails another row of windows contained within a mansard roof as shown in the drawing below. The effect on the roofscape will not be negligible and the drawing is misleading in that, assuming the chimneys are to be retained unaltered, it has exaggerated their heights. Mansards have been added to many period properties around the city with varying degrees of aesthetic success. This proposal is perhaps borderline acceptable, but the planning committee should insist on accurate drawings.

A planning decision is expected by June 7th.

Planning Application; BH2011/00804.
Argus report

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Sussex County Cricket Club

In the excitement of the Seagulls' promotion and the completion of its new stadium it shouldn't be forgotten that the City is home to the oldest County Cricket side in the country and that its home ground at Hove, the PROBIZ, has just been given a splendid revamp in time for the coming season.

The above photo shows the new stand on the left with the dark blue seats spelling out 'SHARKS', the name of the limited overs team; in the foreground are the fine new hospitality tents.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

East Cliff - then & now

About 80 years separate these two photos. From the 1920s onwards the area immediately to the south of Eastern Road, between Upper Rock Gardens and Montague Place, was subject to much piecemeal slum clearance. With the interruption of WW2, the site remained undeveloped for several decades, and the block of flats, Essex Place (centre top in lower photo), did not obtrude on the scene until the 1960s. A corner of another block, Hereford Court, from about the same time, can be seen on the extreme left.   Although one would not want to see any more tower blocks on the skyline, the visual intrusion of Essex Place is not unpleasing, serving something like a punctuation mark in the long sweep of Marine Parade.

Over to the right is the hospital tower mentioned in the earlier post,"Architectural fantasia".

Another noticeable change is the accumulation of shingle that has occurred over the 80 years, such that most of the length of the groynes is now concealed.

Friday, 15 April 2011

'Alice' and 'Adolf' in Middle Street

A rather splendid graffiti taking shape in Middle Street based on the Lewis Carroll characters. This wall is available courtesy of Adolf Hitler. In WW2 one of the few bombs to fall on the old town destroyed several houses here that have never been rebuilt.

The cobbled cottage to the left is at the end of Blind Lemon Alley.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Well done the Seagulls!

A quick look back:-

Last time it had taken 78 years to get into Division One when, on Saturday 4th May 1979, the Albion played Newcastle away and beat them by 3 goals to 1.

The Manager then was Alan Mullery.

After the match Chairman Mike Bamber said:  "Our ground* is absolutely fourth division. I would like to say to everybody, 'Let's get behind the club so we can have a first division stadium.'"

This time it has taken just under 32 years to reach the Championship, and at last they have a fine new stadium. Maybe if they had had a new stadium to go to in 1979 they would be in the Premier Division by now.

* The Goldstone Ground, Old Shoreham Road.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Caroline Lucas and landlords

A letter from Caroline:-

"Many thanks for your recent email and for letting me know about Shelter's campaign for national landlord accreditation. I have long called for proper regulation of letting agents and landlords, so this was one of the issues I pledged to take up with the Government if elected.

One of the first Early Day Motions I signed was about regulation of the private rented sector and it reads as follows:

That this House notes with concern the Government's decision to abandon plans for a national register of landlords and further regulation of the private rented sector; recognises that the private rented sector plays a significant role in supporting the housing market in the UK; believes that rogue landlords and letting agents continue to pose a threat to consumers in the private rented sector; further notes the statistic from the Office of Fair Trading that the number of complaints against rogue landlords and letting agents is on the rise; and calls on the Government to bring forward proposals immediately to create a national register of landlords and to propose further regulation of landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector.

I have followed this up with a number of letters to the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, about landlord discrimination in particular and the need for tenants to be better protected.

Good landlords and letting agents have nothing to fear from regulation and as a Co Chair of the All Party Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency group I am also at the forefront of the campaign to introduce mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented homes. A quarter of private tenants live in fuel poverty and twice as many private rented properties have the worst energy rating compared to the owner-occupied sector, so this is an essential element of securing better living conditions for tenants.

I have asked the Government  to set up an online ratings website for private renters to provide feedback on the conduct of their landlords too, and Greens have called on the council to bring relevant organisations together to drive forward improvements in the city's private rented sector in order to deliver a fairer deal for tenants.

I have added my name to Shelter’s petition and will continue to do what I can to press for national landlord accreditation, as well as for Brighton’s own scheme to be improved and made compulsory."

Best wishes,

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Renovation for Rottingdean seafront

Rottingdean's seafront terraces have been looking rather rough and unkempt for some time, but in a joint project between the City Council and Rottingdean Parish Council currently underway, they are now being refurbished.

New landscaping will provide shingle beds to encourage the establishment of coastal plants, seating will be renovated and a proposal for creating an open air stage on the upper levels will be explored by Rottingdean Arts and the City Council. Rottingdean Arts is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, April 19th at 7.30pm at the White Horse Hotel in Rottingdean to discuss these proposals.

From a City council press release.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Preston Barracks site

That part of the original barracks site still remaining undeveloped contains two buildings of interest; the Crimean War building to the left, constructed in 1793 as a canteen but converted to a hospital and mortuary c.1820, and the "Mannock" building to the right constructed in the early 1900's as officers' quarters. The Crimean War building has been converted  to residential accommodation and remains in use. The "Mannock", now unused and boarded-up, was  named in memory of WW1 flying ace Major Mick Mannock when it became the home of the Air Cadets. Mannock's father, a Scottish corporal, may have been billeted at the Barracks in the 1880's. 

The Mannock building was built to last, to a design and quality deemed fitting for officers (and gentlemen) at a time when class still ruled, skilled labour was cheap and the nation's coffers were still inflated with the plunder of empire. This is reflected in its present external appearance which even after 100+ years appears hardly touched by time. It has stone-edged gables and mullioned windows. Inside it has a large stone fireplace still intact but elsewhere much damaged wood-panelling and once impressive staircases. 

In their draft planning brief for the site the city council says, "Both the 'Crimean War' and Mannock buildings are undesignated (but potential) heritage assets, the qualities of which should be fully assessed and their retention considered in development proposals."

In this planning brief which covers the neighbouring University site to the north and the Mithras site on the east side of the Lewes Road, the Council proposes 3 different scenarios all pivotting around a central public square, and it is on the positioning of this square that the survival of the Crimean and Mannock buildings seems to depend. It would of course be pointless to retain the buildings hemmed in and dominated by multi-storey modern blocks but, disposed as they are, with the green background of the Watts Bank (an SNCI), the north-west corner of a public square would provide an excellent setting.

Quality modern developments can be attractive but need some anchor in the past to give them meaning and soul. Brighton is fortunate that the Preston Barracks site still has these survivors and, in an area encompassing something like 15 acres, surely large enough to provide for all needs,  any scenario requiring these buildings to be demolished seems quite perverse. Scenario A does, in fact, provide for their retention.

The Planning Brief can be examined on line and comments added here.
An exhibition of the proposals can also be seen at Hove Town Hall from 9-11 May.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Playground for the New England Quarter

View looking north-east from Station Approach
Council officers have won their battle to ensure a children’s playground is built on the remaining vacant section of Block K of the station site. Developer McAleer and Rushe Group and landowners Albion Inns Ltd and Cookstown Developments Ltd have withdrawn their appeal against a council enforcement notice to provide the much needed facility on land near Brighton Station.

The McAleer and Rushe Group now have 6 months to complete the children’s playground in accordance with the details submitted to discharge condition 4 of planning permission BH2005/05142. If the work is not completed the council could prosecute or carry out the necessary work and recover the costs.

The provision of this play area was part of the original development brief for the Brighton Station site.

From the Council press release.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The effect of AV in Brighton

With the aid of a new website you can now find out how a change to the alternative voting system would affect the power of a vote in your constituency. In Brighton Pavilion, for example, voter power would increase by 31%.  This would leave the seat a "fairly safe" one.

In Kemptown the change is similar at +30% but the seat goes from marginal to very marginal.

In Hove the change is only +11% and the seat stays at very marginal.

Analysis from nef suggests that switching from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote would have the following effects across the UK:
  • An increase in the average power of UK voters from 0.285 of a vote to 0.352 of a vote (where a score of 1 is a fair vote).
  • An increase in the number of very marginal seats from 81 to 125, an increase of 44 seats.
  • A reduction in the number of very-safe seats from 331 to 271 a reduction of 60 seats.
  • A small reduction of inequality in the power of votes with the most powerful fifth of electors going from having 21 times the power of the least powerful fifth down to 18 times.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Parking (not) in Preston Park Avenue

If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can just see the first 3 of the 9 parking meters that line the west side of Preston Park Avenue. I suppose the cost of installing 9 meters is pretty insignificant in the big scheme of the multi-million pound City Council budget, but did no one consider that, if you wanted to stop parking here,  double yellow lines would have been a much cheaper solution?

It seems from the Friends of Preston Park website here that three Councillors for the park have agreed that the possibility of a reduction in parking charges should be looked at. Is this the working party that was promised back in October last year? They seem to be taking it very calmly. Are there no red faces? No explanations or apologies? It is, after all, a quite extraordinary miscalculation.

Another loved tree bites the dust . .

 . . . but this time its not an elm with  dreaded elm disease but an apparently healthy ilex oak next to the Pavilion North Gate. Most of the trees in the Pavilion Gardens have preservation orders on them and this tree, although technically just outside the grounds, made an equally important contribution to the landscape. It also provided an attractive year-round background to the William IV statue nearby which will now tend to merge with the similar coloured background of the North Gate.

I cannot find a tree application on the Council's website and have contacted the arboricultural department for further information.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Greens call for National Park office

On Friday, 1st April 2011 the South Downs National Park Authority officially took over the running of the Park and the project that had ebbed & flowed for over 50 years became reality.

In their election manifesto the Brighton & Hove Green Party have recognised the importance of this event for residents and visitors alike by declaring their intention to:-

" Provide an office for the South Downs National Park in the city as a source of information and starting point for visits to the Park."

Many people think that the ideal location for this office would be Council-owned Patcham Place situated at Brighton's gateway to the Downs and on the main London to Brighton Road.

Although it might be uneconomic to use the main building, this project could provide the impetus to restore and convert to a sympathetic use the old stable buildings at the rear of the house, at present looking sadly neglected. 

Other related items in the Green's manifesto are:-

• Designate all council owned land as Open
Access Land.
• Develop a city centre Downland Interpretation
• Promote health and economic benefits of tourism
in the South Downs National Park.

See also:- Brighton & Hove News: New authority takes control of South Downs National Park

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Council and residents in Lido 'summit'

A meeting on the future of Saltdean Lido has taken place between the council and residents’ groups.

Present at the talks this week were councillors and officials plus representatives of the Save Saltdean Lido campaign and Saltdean Community Association.

The council own the freehold of the listed attraction. The campaign group want to take the over its operation.  Meanwhile, the Association are in negotiations with their landlord, main leaseholder Dennis Audley, to renew their lease of part of the building they currently occupy.  

The council re-iterated it would not tolerate a large development of flats on the site, which would damage the Lido’s historic setting.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Regency Society new website

The Regency Society, the city's oldest conservation society now has a new website. In an effort, no doubt, to appear modern the elegant traditional-style font of the banner heading has been supplanted by sans-serif and the ammonite capital motif has been abandoned. The old website suffered from a cramped, over-busy look; the new lacks visual impact, the word that jumps to mind is 'pallid'. It does, however appear to be more logically laid-out, easier to navigate and the pages quicker to load.

A 'Central Park' for Brighton?

In the section of its manifesto "Environment & Neighbourhood" Brighton & Hove Labour Party says:-
". . . it wants the City to have its own 'Central Park' and will work to bring forward proposals for a major scheme to enhance and improve Valley Gardens where what are currently giant traffic islands could be linked up to create continuous, safe and useable green space that reduces the impact of traffic, better connects to the North Laine and provides a more suitable setting for historic St. Peter's church."

Brighton Bits says, "Exactly. The traffic flows should be reorganised to reduce the number of crossing points; the gardens increased in size by the removal of underused pavement, and the gardens landscaped around a central, sightly meandering path to keep pedestrians at maximum separation from the traffic."

See earlier posts:-
The North Victoria Gardens Scheme.
Victoria Gardens update.
Victoria Gardens revisited.