Friday, 30 September 2011

Premier Inn, North Street

I have long been promising myself a rant about this building and just the other fine morning remembered to take a photo. Speaking as a purely amateur architectural critic, from the first floor upwards the array of vertical elements is not displeasing. There is something rather ad hoc going on on the roof but at least it is mainly out of sight to the casual passer-by. The same can not be said about the seriously gross design of the canopy, a feature which no one using North Street can avoid seeing and, it follows, has had the potential to offend the eye of the vast majority of Brightonians  and  countless visitors. 

One  wonders why it had to be so deep and thus obscure part of the view of the first floor windows. What did it need to cover, apart from its own structural members and a few electricity cables? Or did  the architect simply have in mind making some strong horizontal statement as counterpoint to the facade above? If so he surely failed badly. For such a prominent feature to stand any chance of success it needed the highest quality materials and utmost attention to detailed design. Instead the whole idea is trashed by the shabby cladding and the shoddy arrangement chosen to finish off the roofing of the canopy. The latter looks more suited to a garden shed than a prominent building in a busy City street. 

To pile on the visual offence, many years ago the roof of a lorry came into contact with the edge of the canopy and took a chunk out. This draws the eye even more certainly to the canopy and away from the better features of the building. It appears no one cares enough to have it repaired.
The Premier Inn stands on the site of one of the many Prudential Insurance Offices designed by famous victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse in his characteristic red-brick victorian gothic style. It was demolished in 1967 when my back was turned.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wheel progress . .

Work is now well under way on the Brighton Wheel but it seems unlikely that the target opening date of early autumn will be met. Three additional applications for the site have been filed but not yet registered. They presumably deal with the shortcomings of those rejected earlier this month which failed to provide sufficient information about the lighting proposals and the travel plans.

A condition of the approval of the main application was that the details of the lighting and travel plans were to be approved before the Wheel started operating. The 'opposition', (one hestitates to label them "nimbys" because by no stretch of the imagination can the wheel be considered to be in anyone's back yard), are taking heart from this hiccup as evidenced by the posts on Brighton's Mad Wheel. As would be expected for an attraction of this sort, it is intended that the Wheel should be illuminated in some way, and the proposals are for programmed “displays” in varying colours. These displays will be turned off when the Wheel is closed to the public but it will remain partially lit 24-hours a day.  In an effort to convey its concern about the effect of the lighting on the neighbourhood Brighton's Mad Wheel has published a rather nice night-time visualisation of the Wheel seen from Madeira Place. 

Madeira Place is the only street along the entire seafront that will be privileged with this particular view and to me it looks rather fine.  True I am speaking as an outsider, yet even if I lived in this street I would be hard put to rationalise any objection. Surely any hotels or guest-houses along the street will be rather more pleased to have it than not. I can even imagine, in 5 years time, a campaign being mounted to extend the Wheel's stay, especially if the i360 fails to materialise,

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Author Peter James makes a promise . . .

"The surprise I promised is if I win the Crime Thriller Awards I’ll buy any fans that show up on Brighton Pier fish & chips to celebrate!"

See: @peterjamesuk .

On Friday 7th October The Crime Thriller Awards will take place in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The event, now into its fourth year, will be hosted by Marcus Brigstocke and broadcast on ITV3 on Tuesday 11th October.

The awards, called daggers, are for the best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, best TV, best international TV and best film alongside the CWA book awards, The Gold Dagger, Steel Dagger and New Blood Dagger.

This year ITV3 viewers can vote for their favourite Crime Thriller authors in the ITV3 People's Bestseller Dagger.

Voting opens Saturday 23rd July and closes Wednesday 5th October, and terms and conditions can be found here.

See ITV Crime Thriller Awards to learn more about the nominated authors and to vote.

Could be the biggest fish & chip party ever!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Plans for new RSCH submitted

Designs for the £420m redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital will be registered by 30th September and will appear in the press during the week ending 7 October, followed by a 3 week consultation period.  The hospital authorities hope to get planning permission by Christmas. The government has agreed to approve funding for the scheme, but this will only happen formally once planning permission has been given by Brighton & Hove City Council.

See also:

Friday, 23 September 2011

Astoria to be demolished

The Astoria cinema opened in 1933 with a showing of Alexander Korda's "The Private lives of Henry VIII" and closed in 1977 after a showing of "A Star is Born". It then became the Coral Social Club and then Gala Bingo until its final closure in 1997. It has remained boarded up and unused since and, although Grade II listed in 2000 as being of special interest on account of its art deco design, it has been allowed to badly deteriorate both inside and out. The best chance of saving it  came in 2001when it was bought by the founders of "Stomp", but plans for refurbishment as a concert, cabaret, and film venue foundered when projected restoration costs reached £6M.

Coming to the present, a recent report to the planning committee said no organisation had been able to demonstrate viable plans for renovating the Astoria and Councillors yesterday agreed to allow demolition on the grounds that it has become genuinely redundant. 

The replacement six to two storey building is planned to provide the most energy-efficient offices  in the city so far, scoring a national ‘excellent’ eco-rating.  Rather like Brighton’s Jubilee Library it will maximise use of passive solar heating, plus natural ventilation through a ‘chimney’ effect.  An ‘earth duct’ in the basement will circulate either hot or cold air according to need, and rain and waste water from hand basins will be used to flush loos.

New buildings to the rear will drop to two storeys to ensure improvements in outlook from the nearby North Laine conservation area and to better blend with adjacent historic streets. The development will also include a courtyard garden, a café and a community meeting room.  As well as the main office space, there will be about a dozen starter units, aimed mainly at creative industries, small digital media and IT companies. It is expected to bring almost 200 jobs and substantially improve the surrounding area.

See Council press release.
Other information from the New Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Rose Collis. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Rampion Wind Farm

The energy firm E.ON is moving to the next stage of its planned 665MW Rampion wind farm in what has been designated as Zone 6, a 27 hectare area of sea, 13km off the Sussex coast. 

They have previously applied for permission to put a 100m mast on the proposed Rampion site and are on the verge of carrying out detailed environmental studies. The met mast will collect wind speed data and measure wave heights and sea currents. The data will then help E.ON to design the best possible layout for the location. Formal consultation with local communities will begin later this year but on Wednesday, 28th Sept. E.ON plans to have a public information stall at the Farmers' Market event in Churchill Square. The planning application is expected to be submitted in January 2012.

Rampion, which was named after the County flower of Sussex by students at Davison High School in Worthing, has the potential to supply around 430,0001 homes with renewable electricity. Underwater cables will bring the electricity ashore at Shoreham. 

If built, the turbines should be just visible on a good day from the promenade and clearly visible from the hilly areas of Brighton.

Brighton v. Liverpool tonight

The match is being shown on Sky Sports 2 tonight at 19.45. If you don't have Sky you can watch a live stream at:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bond Street La(i)ne again . . .

Now somebody has painted out* the "I" which, although it must have been satisfying, doesn't do anything to further the argument for official amendment. On the other hand it is a lot cheaper than a replacement nameplate. Perhaps the next step should be for someone to start a petition calling for the Council to leave the nameplate with the "I" painted out. I can see it quickly becoming a feature of the tourist trail.

Last post on this topic:- Epetition to amend Bond Street La(i)ne nameplate

*Correction; for "painted out" substitute "applied masking tape to".

Monday, 19 September 2011

Medina House repairs ordered

Medina House in 2003

The owners of Medina House on Kings Esplanade, originally built in the 19th century as Turkish baths, have been served with a Section 215 enforcement notice after they failed to respond to requests from council enforcement officers to clean up the property. The site is in  a prominent seafront location and is part of the Cliftonville Conservation Area.

The owners have six months from 1 November to wash down and repaint the southern and western elevations; remove the breeze blocks from the window openings and reinstate windows and glazing; repair and make good all the windows and doors including re-glazing as required; repaint all external timberwork including window frames, doorframes and soffits and re-render the eastern elevation of the property.

From a Council press release.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Epetition to amend Bond Street La(i)ne nameplate

There is now an epetition available on the City Council website. It reads:-

"We the undersigned petition the council to revisit the 1981 decision of the Highways and Transport Committee from which this misapplication of "laine" originated and rectify the situation without delay. The use of "laine" in this nameplate is incorrect and misleading."

"The word "laine" is of anglo-saxon origin meaning "loan" or "lease" and was the Sussex dialect term for the open arable fields of the feudal system of agriculture. Its use has survived uniquely in Brighton to the present day and its correct application should be jealously guarded as part of Brighton's history and unique character."

This petition will be presented to Environment, Transport & Sustainability Cabinet Members Meeting on 24 January 2012.

The petition can be signed at:

Earlier posts:-
The strange case of the reappearing "i".
The strange case of the reappearing"i" continued.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Autumn Ghost Vigil at Preston Manor

Autumn Ghost Vigil 
Saturday 17 September
Preston Manor

"Spend the night investigating the active paranormal. Explore the Manor and discover it's ghostly history, entering reputedly haunted rooms and taking part in ghost vigils led by a guest medium. For serious enthusiasts and the curiously brave. Tea, coffee & cake provided."

If you don't mind losing a night's sleep this might be fun and I'm sure I'm as fond of a good ghost story or film fright as anyone; but I wish the museum had been slightly more careful with its wording. A museum, whatever avenues it explores to attract funds and footfall, is at heart an institution of learning. It should take care not to give credence accidentally or otherwise to the reality-challenged of this world.

Police! Action! . . . museum

Making an arrest; . . . . there were also two police cars out of shot. Shortly afterwards a bleary-eyed miscreant was marched to one of the cars and his carrier bag and beer can were confiscated. . . . That'll larn him!

Monday, 12 September 2011

The strange case of the reappearing "i" continued

Continued from: The strange case of the reappearing "i".

The name "Bond Street Laine" arises from a report, dated 27th July 1981, to the Highways & Transport Committee, by the then Borough Engineer, M.E Kearns. The developers of nos.12 & 13 Bond Street had laid out this footpath which gives access to the maisonettes above 12 & 13, as well as the Church Street car park. The suggestion to name it "Bond Street Laine" came from the developers and, in his report, the Borough Engineer simply endorses the name without question.

The Borough Engineer's report was considered by the Highways and Transport Committee meeting on 17th August 1981 who accepted it without debate. Evidently no one on the committee was sufficiently well-versed in Brighton's history to challenge the spelling of "laine" or to have an inkling that further advice should be sought.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Living with . . . sash windows.

This is the latest title in the series of fact sheets "Maintaining period buildings" issued by the Regency Society. The previous titles were "Living with . . . bungaroush" and "Living with  . . . lath & plaster". All three pdf's provide expert advice & tips and should be priority reading for the city's many  owners of Georgian & Victorian buildings. 

"Living with sash windows ends" with some notable "don'ts".
• Replace a cill with green (new) oak or pine.  
• Glue joints with internal grade PVA glue – use marine PVA glue 
instead, as it will withstand the weather better.  
• Use lubricating oil to ease the sashes.   
• Use large nails to fit stop beads, or any nails at all on the parting 
• Use any other type of rope than waxed cord.   
• Fit modern pulleys, which are usually made of tin plate and are 
brass plated and not cast. As a result they may rot or break within 
a few years.  
• Even think about UPVC replacement windows.    

Kill List

A new film by Brighton director Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace) is now showing at the Duke of Yorks.

"When British soldier Jay (Maskell, GHOSTED) returns home from a covert operation in Kiev, he reunites with an old acquaintance and takes on a job as a contract killer.
But things go awry when his inner demons surface and his new reality becomes haunted by ghosts of the past. The most anticipated British horror of the year, KILL LIST is a bombshell of a movie with a high-impact ending that will leave you speechless."

Sounds and looks good.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Stanmer farm buildings to be redeveloped

The City Council owns a number of disused farm buildings in Stanmer Park including the Grade II listed barn shown on the left above. Home Farmhouse, also listed, is on the right. The Council is now considering their redevelopment and have engaged property agents Smiths Gore to market the properties nationally. 

The council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, Councillor Jason Kitcat, said:-
“This is a wonderful opportunity to rejuvenate Stanmer Park by providing a range of services and facilities to attract visitors, improve their enjoyment of the park and provide a high quality gateway to the South Downs. But we are also very clear that any refurbishment or restoration proposals have to be self-financing as well as financially sustainable. We will look at whether commercial or residential accommodation could be used to support financially other non-income generating uses. And we also intend to talk to the South Downs National Park about whether they might want to use part of the site as an area office. We need to see what interest there is in the market place, while at the same time finding out how local people would like to see these buildings used.”

The council is holding a public exhibition at Stanmer Park from September 9-11 to start getting the views of local people on redevelopment.
Council staff will be on hand at the exhibition in Stanmer Park’s tractor shed off the village street to answer questions and get people’s views. The exhibition boards will then move to Hove Town Hall until September 16.
It is hoped to establish an outline business plan for the buildings in the new year.

From a Council press release.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The strange case of the reappearing "i"

This twitten, leading from Bond Street to the Church Street multi-storey car park, did not exist until the 1980's when the car park was built. It was created by rebuilding the property in Bond Street to which the nameplate is affixed. 

Some years ago a  nameplate appeared high on the opposite wall of the twitten and the fixing holes can still be seen there. It was a rather cheap-looking plastic sign and lacked the Council logo. It declared "Bond Street Laine", again sporting the errant "i". 
Surely all Brightonians know that  "Laine" derives from the different areas into which Brighton was once divided: North Laine, Little Laine, Hilly Laine etc. and was never applied to a twitten or alleyway.  

When the writer made this offence against historicity and correct  terminology known to the Council, the sign was replaced within weeks, in the same place, this time in the Council's standard design and this time with the correct spelling. So it remained for several years until the above appeared.

The new location is more useful but the reappearance of the spelling error is quite inexplicable. 

Why not join me and email:

Monday, 5 September 2011

The seafront railings - a solution in sight?

I have often likened the maintenance of Brighton's victorian seafront railings to that of the Forth Bridge. Paint is applied on paint in a largely cosmetic operation which has only a marginal effect on the rate of corrosion and needs repeating almost annually.

Now a new paint developed for the offshore oil industry is being used to protect the Forth Bridge and may last up to 40 years before it needs repeating. It seems that the expression "like painting the Forth Bridge" to describe a never-ending task will soon be consigned to history.

The new process requires grit-blasting the old paint & rust back to bare metal and then applying three coats of a "glass flake epoxy resin" which chemically bonds with the surface of the metal forming an impenetrable layer.

This process applied to our railings would, as well as reducing annual maintenance costs, help to preserve them into the future and thus postpone indefinitely the enormous cost that would be incurred by their replacement. It would have the additional advantage of revealing all the finer details of the castings at present disguised by the accumulation of a 100 years of paint.

See also:-
The seafront "paintathon" has begun.
Seafront maintenance.
Brighton's seafront railings.
The seafront railings.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Ice-skating to return to the Pavilion?

A planning application (BH2011/02303) has been submitted for a temporary ice-rink at the Pavilion, during winter, for a 5 year period. Last year's trial was obviously thought sufficiently successful and profitable for it to be proposed as a recurring winter attraction and the applicants received no discouragement from the Council.

In their Heritage statement the applicants state:-
"The ice rink will provide a leisure/sporting activity which will encourage tourists and engage with local communities. The structures will increase the capacity of the historic site temporarily, and bring a wider range of visitors. The size of the rink has been chosen to sit within the context of the Royal Pavilion. The site has been designed so as to visually enhance views of the Pavilion. The structure will have glass walls facing the rink with additional glass walls along the edge of the structure facing the Steine. Bespoke transparent roofs have also been opted for in all areas except the toilet block. The ice rink will provide an important source of income which will help to fund repair and maintenance of the grounds and the building itself."

Stringent precautions are specified to protect the existing trees, shrubs and beds during installation and derig, and from the public throughout the period of functioning of the rink. As before the grass will be reinstated  by March each year by rotovating and re-turfing. This does give some cause for concern. What will the be the long-term effect of repeated operations of this sort without allowing time for the grass to become properly established?

Friday, 2 September 2011

City Council to manage downland in-house

"The estate management of the Downland owned by the Council around Brighton & Hove is to be brought back in house following a decision by the Cabinet on 1 September. . . .

The authority owns some 10,500 acres (4,400ha) of downland inside and outside the city’s boundaries – an area roughly half the size of the city itself.  For years this has been managed by the council through specialist estate agents.

Historically, the council’s policy aimed to maximise income from farming, balancing this against social and environmental factors under the Downland Initiative.  However the formation of the South Downs National Park and the growing interest in the environment, wildlife and ecology provides new opportunities.
Councillor West added: “Some progress has been made with the Downland Initiative by our agents working with farmers.  We now want to build on that by taking a closer role. The model we now want to look at is similar to how the council treated the seafront estate as a special case, developing it as a key part of the city’s offer.  Since then, we’ve never looked back.
“With our good transport connections into the Downs, we have the opportunity to make the city the major gateway to the National Park.
“Running the estate in-house is just a first step toward setting the right conditions to enable that all to happen.”
Councillor Pete West, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “We believe the change will help us build a stronger relationship with farmers and together explore opportunities to create new income.” "

From a Council press release.

Fares protest at Brighton Station

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP and leader of the Green Party, joins a protest against fare rises at Brighton Station this morning.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Heritage fund bid submitted for the Level restoration

One of Brighton’s most historic parks will be totally transformed if a £2.8 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful.
Brighton & Hove City Council submitted the ‘Parks for People’ bid for The Level this week. The aim is to restore the 19th century park’s heritage features and increase the number of people who use it.
Plans include a stunning new interactive water feature, a café which would be open year-round and in the evenings, a sensory garden, an upgraded children’s play area and a new skatepark.

From a City Council press release. Read on.