Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Horsdean traveller site

This piece of land, formerly part of the Brighton Rugby Club playing field, was quickly colonised by travellers when the A27 Brighton bypass was opened in 1996. Over the following two years the number of caravans rose to over 180 and the situation became quite chaotic.  In 1998 the Council sent in the bailiffs and the travellers scattered throughout the City leaving behind an indescribable mess.  The Council then drew up proposals for a legal transit site, and opposition of local residents crumbled when the Government refused a public enquiry in December that year.

A permanent site, with drainage and toilet facilities and hard-standing for 23 caravans, was opened in September 1999. Occupants had to prove a need to stay in the area, were charged £40 per week and  limited to 6 months stay at any one time.

In 2002 the travellers received a £2000 grant from the Scarman trust for play equipment. In 2005 the Council was awarded £159,000 from a Government grant to help towards an upgrade of the site including provision of an electricity supply. In 2009 the rent was increased to £60 per week and occupants were limited to 1 months stay with a possible extension to 3 months if their plot wasn't needed.

The site was vandalised in 2008 and again in 2009 and had to be closed for repairs. In 2011, 24 hour security was provided at a cost to the taxpayer of £85,000 per year.

There are now proposals to extend the site northwards by adding a further 16 pitches dedicated to long-stay "travellers" who will have to supply evidence of close ties with the neighbourhood. The whole site is now in the South Downs National Park, the Authority for which will have to give planning permission. They have asked for two other sites to be reported on for comparison: Waterhall Farm and Hangleton Bottom.

Brighton has long operated a somewhat tolerant attitude towards travellers, reinforced in recent years by the Human Rights Act, but all efforts will only scratch at the problem unless other councils in the South East make similar efforts.

Comment on the City Council's 'New Traveller Commissioning Strategy 2012' here.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Queen Square hotel (cont.)

It is disappointing that, at a recent meeting, the Conservation Advisory Group recommended refusal of application BH2011/03227, chiefly on the grounds of the proposed hotel's height & bulk. A site at the end of a 'square' such as this surely requires completion with a moderately imposing building. It may be that the design can be criticised on matters of style or detail but it is difficult to conceive how any lower edifice could fill the gap in an aesthetically satisfactory manner.

The existing no.10 Queen Square rises to five storeys including a semi-basement. No.11 is to be rebuilt as part of the hotel, but, following the roofline trend of the street, will be 1 metre higher than no.10, again only with five storeys. The hotel accomodation shown in section will also be five storeys with the lower ground floor slightly above the basement level of no.10.

Superimposed on the 5th floor is a "lantern" storey housing service equipment. The hotel is therefore one storey higher than those in Queen Square, not "two or three" as some claim. Furthermore the sixth storey does not extend to the full plan area of the hotel but is set back from its outside wall on all sides so becoming  inconspicuous. 

The total height of the hotel is a little more than 18 metres. Concern has been expressed over the overshadowing of the churchyard, but it seems inevitable that any economic use of the site will involve a building higher than the existing. Any practicable reduction in height would have only marginal effects on the churchyard but could critically compromise the appearance of the development in Queen Square.

At the rear the upper ground floor is separated from the churchyard wall by a passage way. If this passage way were to be widened, at the expense of the internal accommodation, the shadow cast by the building on the churchyard would be mitigated somewhat, but only on a little frequented part of the churchyard. (Hence an earlier suggestion for the creation of a permissive foot path through the hotel). The hotel would, in effect, be gaining an extra outside area it cannot use, at the expense of providing an extra piece of unshadowed churchyard that the public doesn't use. 

Turning to consider effects on Wykeham Terrace, the hotel will rise approximately 7.5 metres above Wykeham Terrace as shown below but because of the geometry will not be in the line of sight of a pedestrian in Dyke Road over 40 metres away. 

It is true that as one climbs into St. Nicholas churchyard or up Dyke Road the new hotel will come into view behind the end properties in Wykeham Terrace. The applicant has supplied the visualisation below in which the viewer is on eye level with the Wykeham Terrace rooftops.  This is a puzzling picture and not doing the applicant any favours. It is surely showing at least one floor too many of the hotel according to the geometry suggested by the sectional drawing. Whatever, there seems to be no area in the neighbourhood where the houses of Wykeham Terrace, viewed from the front at ground level, will be over-topped by the proposed hotel. 

Higher still in the churchyard one gets a fine view towards St. Pauls and the sea as shown in the photo below. In this view the west end of the hotel would be visible between the two trees on the left. The view of St. Pauls, centre, will not be obscured.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Burning the Clocks - 2011

A few photos:-

The mild dry evening produced what seemed a record turnout of spectators. By 7pm not a spare vantage point along Madeira Drive or Marine parade was to be had. The last photo would have been much better if I could have found a space to erect a tripod (and had bothered to take one along :) ).

All  Brighton people (and other pagans) can help to keep "Burning the Clocks" going. Just donate £1 by texting 'sameskyclocks' to 70100.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Season's greetings

Patcham Village: showing the 17th century, 250 ft. long, tithe barn of the former Patcham Court Farm, and a section of the probably older churchyard wall, viewed across what was the village pond. The pond was filled-in in the 1930's. The barn was converted to dwellings and a church hall in 1987.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sunday, 18 December 2011

£2.2M grant success for the Level

It is announced today that the £2.2M grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery "Parks for People" project has been successful. 

Heartiest congratulations and thanks are due to the Council's dedicated Parks Project team who, overcoming many difficulties, have been working hard on this scheme for the past 2 or 3 years.

To access past posts on this subject go to:-

Friday, 16 December 2011

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Council turns down Co-op proposals

The proposal to demolish the former Co-op department store on Brighton's London Road to create 407 units of student accommodation was refused by the city council's planning committee yesterday afternoon.

After considering the application, the committee decided that the proposal did not justify the loss of the existing 1930s building which is valued by the local community due to its architectural and historic interest.

It was also clear after viewing the proposed design of the building that it would relate poorly to other buildings in the surrounding area and would be an overdevelopment of the site. The building appeared out of scale with neighbouring properties and affected views from Preston Circus and the New England Quarter.

A full assessment of the proposed building’s affect on the neighbourhood and its impact on sunlight levels on the rest of the area could not be made as insufficient information was submitted.

Possible noise disturbance to the area also played a role in the planning committee’s decision. There was not enough information on how the proposed roof terraces and open service yard would affect noise levels in the area. The applicant also did not address the need for disabled parking.
The former Co-operative department store

See also:-

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Theatre in the Lanes

Brighton's unique Treason Show left the Komedia in 2009, after 9 years, following a disagreement with management over the number of shows it was allowed. It has been at the Pavilion Theatre ever since, apart from a New Year show at the Old Ship and a 10 year celebration performance at the Theatre Royal.

As it is essentially suited to a cabaret-style venue the Pavilion Theatre was not ideal and it is therefore excellent news that Mark Brailsford, founder, director, performer (and streaker), has been granted a license to operate from the basement of 25 North Street as "The Theatre in the Lanes".

25 North Street, adjacent to Meeting House Lane and directly opposite the end of New Road, is appropriately situated close to The Theatre Royal and the Pavilion Theatre. The site  is now occupied by Chandos House, a 1960's development which replaced part of Vokins, the drapers, and the Countess of Huntingdon's Church

The Countess of Huntingdon's Church, North Street
Further details: Council grants new theatre application

Rex Whistler - The Christmas stocking

The Christmas Stocking
A painting, by Reginald John (Rex) Whistler, aged 16. Six years later, in 1927,  he completed perhaps his most famous work, the murals in the restaurant of Tate Britain.

In Brighton he is famous for "HRH the Prince Regent Awakening the Spirit of Brighton", 1944. This hangs upstairs in the Royal Pavilion and was the centre piece of a major exhibition in Brighton Art Gallery in 2006, "Rex Whistler: The Triumph of Fancy". It was originally painted on the wall of a house in Preston Park Avenue where Rex Whistler was stationed during WW2.

Interestingly this painting has become seriously darkened with age and perhaps, being on wallpaper, the possibilites for restoration are limited. Only the techniques of digital photography allow it to be appreciated in anything like its original state.

Self portrait 1940

Rex Whistler was subsequently killed in Normandy in 1944 and, according to his wishes, expressed only hours before, was buried where he fell.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Mitre House Hotel development

Planning  application BH2011/034343 details the proposed conversion of the north block of Mitre House into a 3 storey, 134 bed hotel. The principle of a hotel on this site was established last year by application BH2010/01966. On the Western Road frontage of Mitre House a separate entrance to the hotel will be created, alongside the existing entrance, by utilising the existing shop at no.150.

From this entrance a passageway leads to the north block and the hotel, (see below).

The work includes adding an extra storey to the north block by means of a mansard roof with dormer windows, executed with a zinc cladding. The deteriorating exterior brickwork will be pale rendered. (See below).
Proposed elevation on Hampton Street
The improvement to Hampton Street should be considerable, although it is only fair to note that in the visualisation above the artist has somehow forgotten the rubbish bins.

Hampton Street at present.

Monday, 5 December 2011

New Queen Square hotel - planning application

A planning application (BH2011/03227) has been submitted to replace the old skating rink at the end of Queen Square and no.11, the last house on the LH side, with a five storey, serviced apartment hotel with a restaurant/cafĂ© at ground floor level. The hotel will be known as "The Light".

The designs have been prepared by Conran & Partners, and the application impresses with the amount of research and effort that has gone into ensuring that the building harmonises seamlessly with adjacent period properties, and enhances the immediate neighbourhood without dominating it. The front of the hotel is mainly rendered, and has balconies and windows disposed and proportioned to echo patterns established in the adjacent frontages. The 'lantern' top storey is stepped back from the front to minimise height. The rear is in grey brick to harmonise with the colours predominant in and around St. Nicholas churchyard. To the west end of the site, behind the west side of Queen Square, the upper floors are stepped back from the rear walls of Wykeham Terrace to minimise overshadowing, and the balconies so formed screened to maintain privacy.

A not insignificant planning gain will be the improvement of Queen Square itself. The developer's aspirations for this, shown below, require a levelling of the approach to the hotel to provide an outside eating area and a public art work to attract people into the Square:-

The Square however, being a cul-de-sac, will still struggle to increase footfall. The suggestion for a pedestrian 'cut-through' from Queen Square to the St. Nicholas open space was considered but, unfortunately, failed to receive persuasive backing.  The factors said to weigh against it are the 3 metre change in gradient and the need to demolish a section of the churchyard wall. These points are valid to some extent but not insuperable. What seems to have been the main concern is the unknown consequences of a new link between a quiet area and the busy city centre, notwithstanding that any conceivable problem could surely have been obviated by the provision of gates. There was never any suggestion of establishing a  permanent right-of-way. As things stand, due to timidity, a unique opportunity to improve the City's pedestrian links will be lost forever.

Earlier posts:-

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Charles Burleigh, Hove artist

The Burleigh family taking tea in Wilbury Crescent, Hove. c.1940
This painting by Charles H.H. Burleigh is in the collection of the Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch. Burleigh, 1875-1956, studied at Brighton School of Art and in Paris, and painted a variety of subject matter in both oil and watercolour. The artist was married to Averil Burleigh, another artist, and they had 7 Wilbury Crescent built in 1905. Their daughter, Veronica, was also a painter. 

Brighton Art Gallery has 22 paintings by Charles in its collection, including "Brighton Front", below, the painting for which he is best known locally.

Brighton Front 1920
Other well-known paintings are his interiors of the Royal Pavilion when it was in use as an Indian hospital and the interior of the Brighton Arts Club c.1930, which portrays many local artists of that period. The latter is currently on display in Brighton Art Gallery.

The Gallery also has seven paintings by Averil and two by his daughter, including a portrait of her father at his easel. Not all the paintings are on display. The family were discussed in an article by Hilary Chapman in the Antique Dealer and Collector's Guide of March 1998.

Charles Burleigh was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI). He exhibited quite widely at their exhibitions and at such venues as the Royal Academy and the Fine Art Society. He seems to have been a  prolific painter throughout his life and, perhaps because of this, many of his works fetch only of the order of £100-£200 at auction.