Friday, 28 December 2012

Patcham flood alert.

Flooding at Patcham Place in November 2000
The Environment Agency has issued a flood alert for Patcham after a rise in water levels following heavy rain.

The Council is monitoring the ground water level and working with the Environment Agency and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to provide support, if necessary, to residents in affected properties.

The area was recently leafleted for households to join up to the flood alert scheme. Those households in the flood alert area will now receive a phone call advising them of the alert. You can join up to the flood alert programme here.

The homes in danger of flooding have being visited by council officers. Anyone in the area in need of more information can also email the council team on Emails will be answered as soon as possible.

Southern Water is monitoring water levels and how the sewage system is coping with the excess water.

Old London Road, Nov. 2000

Old London Road, Nov. 2000
After the year 2000 flooding various improvements were made to the main sewer, which follows the line of the London Road. This may be the first occasion since 2000 that the work has been seriously tested.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Co-op façade saved.

On December 12 the City Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly approved an application from a private company to demolish the rear of the former department store, preserve the frontage and construct accommodation for 351 students behind.

For many years since the CWS departed there were hopes that the store would be taken over by some other prestige company and pressed back into the use for which it was designed, so being a catalyst for the rejuvenation of the whole London Road area.  Apparently the big retailers had more sense and the present plans for student housing were the only financially viable proposals to materialise. Hope of saving the building as a whole must now be consigned to history.

In December 2011, the planners turned down an application to demolish the whole building and construct a larger student residence with over 400 rooms.  Reasons cited at the time included overdevelopment and loss of an un-designated heritage asset. So this latest decision is seen as a positive result for the building which was added to the local heritage list in March this year. Chair of the planning committee Cllr Christopher Hawtree said:  “It’s a victory for our stance against boil-in-the-bag architecture which often sees our distinctive buildings replaced by developers serving up easy, bland designs.

It maybe that under the circumstances it is the poor best that can be hoped for. It however does nothing however for the reputation of the architectural profession. Because of its failure to produce a design that at least matched the authority, confidence and elegance of the original, posterity will only inherit a kind of cobbled-together chimaera of a building.

London road Co-op and the 'Local List'
Council turns down Co-op proposals
Redevelopment of the London Road Co-op

Monday, 10 December 2012

"The North Laine" explained . . .

No further comment needed really. This window space has public-spiritedly been donated by fashion shop JuJu on the corner of Gloucester Road and Kensington Street. Well done JuJu.

Danger point

A busy shop, a busy bank, a busy street and a narrow pavement obstructed in short order by a telecom cabinet, two phone boxes (does anyone use phone boxes anymore?) and a very large waste bin, is a recipe for disaster. It is surely only a matter of time before someone proceeding left to right with their back to the bus lane steps aside into the road and into the path of a bus. It nearly happened to the writer.

Restaurant for the Chapel Royal?

Following its restoration earlier this year, the Chapel Royal, on the corner of North Street and Princes Place, may get an 80 covers restaurant in a "unique cavern venue", i.e.  the undercroft or vaults of the church. These have no internal connection to the church and have been under separate freehold title from the chapel since 1896. Planning application BH2012/03647 details alterations to the entrance shown above to provide access to the vaults and necessary internal works.

The plans require excavating a basement area from the public highway in front of the door and providing a flight of steps and a disabled lift. This area will be surrounded by cast iron railings and its walls faced with bricks matching those of the Chapel Royal. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Tales of the City

The film, Tales of the City, was produced by young people from East Brighton in response to the Brighton Photo Biennial 2012 theme Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space.

Weekly workshops, facilitated by artist Evan Wilkinson, ran throughout July and August 2012 encouraging participants to explore the politics of their space using animation and digital storytelling.

The young people involved in the Tales of the City project went on to facilitate a series of workshops held in libraries throughout October 2012 allowing children and families to explore animation and create their own digital stories.
Brighton Photo Biennial is produced and curated by Photoworks.

CIVITAS plus Archimedes project in Brighton & Hove

CIVITAS ARCHIMEDES stands for “Achieving Real CHange with Innovative transport MEasures Demonstrating Energy Savings”. This motto unites the cities of Aalborg (Denmark), Brighton & Hove (UK), San Sebastian (Spain), Iasi (Romania), Monza (Italy), and Usti-nad-Laben (Czech Republic). They are driven by the ambition to increase the share of sustainable modes of transport, improve energy efficiency and provide safer and more convenient travel services in medium-sized urban areas.

Each of the six ARCHIMEDES cities is located in a different EU country including representatives from new European member states. Being small and medium-sized, they often lack the resources and leverage bigger cities have at their disposal. Yet, they are keen to demonstrate how they can still achieve the same objectives for clean and energy-efficient transport and sustainable development. They see innovative solutions as the key to success.

Friends of Queens Park invite . . .

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton on Kindle

Two decades after the original Encyclopaedia of Brighton was published, the fascinating, informative and entertaining New Encyclopaedia of Brighton by acclaimed biographer Rose Collis combines the best of the original text with hundreds of new subjects.

Alphabetically-ordered, the New Encyclopaedia of Brighton illustrates the city’s rich and diverse social history, from ‘Abattoirs’ to ‘Zap Club’. Sections include Black Brighton, Foodie Brighton, Gay Brighton, Green Brighton and Jewish Brighton to Housing, Indian Soldiers and WWI and II.

There are profiles of leading lights in business, politics, literature and entertainment, including Ellen Nye Chart, Maria Fitzherbert, Robin Maugham, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Lord Alfred Douglas and Martha Gunn. ‘Pull-out’ quotes about the city, dating from the early 18th century, and ‘one-off’ facts vividly demonstrate Brighton’s idiosyncratic history.
Essential ‘lists’ include ‘Brighton in Art’, ‘Brighton by the Book’ and ‘Filmed in Brighton’
Converting the book into an electronic version has enabled many sections to be updated since it was published in June 2010, including those on Amex Stadium, Notable Churches, Brighton Centre, Seafront, Old Steine, Corporation, and Gay Brighton.

Whether read for fun, education or reference by visitors and residents alike, The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton is the definitive book about Brighton.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The future of the Brighton History Centre

Three years ago, following an out-of-the-blue announcement that the Brighton History Centre would close within months, a vigorous campaign was mounted, resulting in a temporary reprieve for the facility.

The BHC will, nevertheless, finally close its doors in 2013 when its rich collection of books and original documents, covering all aspects of the city’s history, will transfer to The Keep at Falmer. 

The long-awaited opening of The Keep towards the end of the year is an exciting prospect. Yet much stands to be compromised in terms of access and service quality for users of the existing specialist city centre facility. Furthermore, as long ago as January 2010, BHC users were promised a key role in helping develop family and local history services throughout the city. To date, though, such user involvement has been minimal and apparently fruitless. 

Friends of the Brighton History Centre invite all users and interested parties to an open meeting with Janita Bagshawe, Head of Royal Pavilion and Museums at Brighton & Hove City Council and other relevant Council officers at 10.30am on Wednesday 19th December in the Education Pavilion (ground floor of Brighton Museum).

The aim of the meeting is to ensure that facilities and resources for BHC users are optimised, both at The Keep and at the proposed, compensatory city centre local and family history 'hub' which - somewhere, somehow - is to be crammed into the Jubilee Library.

There remain many other outstanding questions. For example, will present BHC staff continue their exceptional service, either at the Keep or at the new hub, or indeed both.

Also unknown is the timescale for closing the existing city centre facility. Documents held at East Sussex Record Office are already being mothballed ready for transfer to The Keep, so becoming increasingly inaccessible. Inevitably, BHC users will be similarly inconvenienced in due course; they need a guarantee that this will be kept to a minimum. 

Please consider attending this meeting and do bring your own questions. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Keep nears completion.

View from entrance road
On schedule, on target and on budget the Keep is nearing completion. Handover will be in May next year with opening to the public in late 2013. In between those dates an intensive operation will take place to move the archives of the East Sussex Record Office, The University of Sussex and the Brighton Local History Centre on to the ten miles of temperature & humidity controlled shelving in the Keep's repository. About 6 miles of the shelving is expected to be be immediately occupied. Land has been retained at the south end of the site for further expansion of the repository as and when necessary.

The cafe area 
Public study area is adjustably divided into two, one side for documents, the other for viewing digitised sources.

The ground floor (pink) of the repository

The multi-use room for schools, groups etc. can be divided into 3 or 2 sections. Fully AV equipped

The grass roof ready for planting.
The environmental control equipment on the top floor. Hot water is piped in from a biomass energy centre situated to the north of the Keep

View to the north west from the roof.
Earlier posts:-

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Saltdean Lido Community Interest Co. - new website

The Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company believes they are the only membership based bidder who will run the lido site and its facilities on behalf of the community, reinvesting profits back into this unique asset to ensure its long term use by future generations.

Have a look through the website to find out more about the Company and how you can get involved.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Withdean Stadium improvements

The City planning committee have approved a £2.7m transformation to the Withdean Sports Complex including:-

  • A new larger fitness suite with space for 125 equipment stations, compared to 50 now.
  • New entrance and reception space with new café/bar
  • Extended and completely refurbished changing facilities
  • New exercise studio
  • New cycling studio
  • Three new therapy rooms
  • A glazed link between indoor tennis centre and squash building

In the stadium, permanent permission has been granted to retain the 900-seat west stand.  The hitherto temporary north-west car park was also given permanent consent.  Capacity is to be slightly reduced to 106 spaces, with improved landscaping.  Temporary consent for three years has also been granted to retain toilets, changing rooms and storage containers.

The council says all these facilities will ensure the complex continues to be an important and popular sporting venue.

The 1200-seat north stand already has permanent permission.

Works are expected to start in next February and finish in December 2013.

The council are funding the scheme through borrowing which will be paid back by additional income generated. The project forms part of the council’s 10-year Sports Facilities Plan to improve the quality of facilities in the city to meet the current and future demands of residents. It is disappointing in this respect that a large swathe of he City, the London Rd. Valley will still be without a general sports hall for activities such as badminton, basketball, five-a-side football.

Withdean Stadium moves on

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Development of St. Augustine's convent

Planning application BH2012/03364 for the site at 1 Manor Road, East Brighton requires the demolition of this chapel and the refurbishment and conversion of the two detached villas on the site to provide 16 flats. The villas date from 1906. The chapel was added later.

St. Augustine's convent.

Six new buildings of 2 or 3 storeys will be erected around the site to provide 22 houses and 8 flats with associated car and cycle parking and landscaping. A tree survey showed a number of trees were in poor condition both on site and in nearby roads so expect to see a general denuding of what has been an almost rural corner of Brighton. A survey for bat roosts was also carried out but none were found at the time. The installation of bat detectors is recommended.

West elevation of proposed development.
Google Earth view of site

Monday, 12 November 2012

Queen's Road - then & now

Not a lot has changed in the 100 or so years that separate these two views, partly because, in the modern view, trees on the right-hand side conceal a modern office block. Queen's Road was laid out in 1845 after the completion of the London to Brighton railway. At this point it passes over the west side of the burial ground of the Hanover Chapel which backed on to North Road but had an address in Church Street. The wall of the raised pavement on the left was formerly the wall of the burial ground. The railings on both sides of the road are listed. The row of lamps on the left-hand side (part of the abortive "ocean boulevard" project) are 20th.C reproductions of the originals which can be seen faintly on the right-hand side of the top view.

Station gateway - update

Brighton Station is the gateway for thousands of people to the city every day yet, for the pedestrian, the exit routes, as existing at present, are not exactly convenient or welcoming. Leaving over the Trafalgar Road bridge the pedestrian is confronted by bus lanes; leaving at the west end (near end in photo) one is immediately confined to narrow pavements and, to proceed in any direction but down Trafalgar Street, presented with the need to negotiate heavy traffic. 

Plans to improve access to and from this busy transport gateway were put out for public comment several months ago and amended proposals were presented to the Transport Committee on October 2. For the pedestrian the biggest improvement will be the pedestrianisation of the entire covered forecourt and the provision of direct access to the east side of Queens Road where the width of the pavements on both sides will be increased by a massive 3 metres.

It appears that taxis after queueing from south to north in Frederick Place and up the south side of Trafalgar Street, outside the forecourt in what was the nearest bus lane.

The listed canopy, added in 1882, casts an unfortunate gloom over the forecourt, especially at the far eastern end, where also the windows over Trafalgar Street are, inexplicably, too high to allow a view over Brighton. Council planners are investigating opportunities with English Heritage and the Railway Heritage Trust to replace, reduce or improve the existing canopy in front of the station to let more light into the area.

Rail partners are considering a plan to reopen a pedestrian entrance between Trafalgar Street and the current taxi area (the entrance on Trafalgar Street is currently blocked by an electricity substation). It is hoped an entrance can be reopened soon, along with a lift to ensure accessibility for all.

The current designs being considered by Brighton & Hove City Council have been shaped with public feedback to give as many people as possible a chance to be involved.  The deadline for commenting on the proposals is Friday 30 November. To comment go to:

The next stage in the process is for all feedback and the plans to go to Transport Committee in January for approval to continue to the detailed planning stage. If approved, work may be able to begin in early 2013.

Earlier Posts:-
Brighton station gateway
Brighton station gateway 2
Station staircase may be reopened
New proposals for Brighton station gateway

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Council twitter

The  City Council now has more followers per capita that most other UK local authorities. Following @BrightonHoveCC is an easy way for residents to report problems, share opinions on different issues and raise customer services queries. The council Twitter channel also helps customers find out where to access important information and get instant updates on things like traffic and travel information.

Alongside the main council twitter account other popular council twitter channels include Transport and Parking ( with just under 600 followers and Recycling and Refuse ( with more than 1,100. More specialised ones include @BHSheep which tells you where Brighton & Hove sheep will be grazing - useful for dog walkers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Old Steine café extension

Planning application BH2012/03095 details proposals for an extension on the garden side of the café to provide all-weather shelter for customers. 

This is an ex-tram shelter/public toilet, grade II listed in 1993. It was designed in 1926 in the 'International Style' by the Borough Engineer, David Edwards. The walls are of reinforced concrete and the glazing bars of steel. The original toilets were accommodated in a deep  basement. Near the centre, two sections of the wall project to form a recess with a pair of entrances which now accommodate toilets adapted for disabled people. The deep overhanging roof steps out over this centre section. 

The proposed extension will be detailed and finished in sympathetic style but will fundamentally alter the building's form. Although there is no shortage of indoor café accomodation in the area the extension  may be necessary to ensure the ongoing maintenance and preservation of the building.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Seafront Arches - renovation starts

Work to rebuild, strengthen and refurbish this section of the historic arches will begin on Monday, and last for an estimated 50 weeks. The majority of these arches are not in use with the remainder being used for storage.

During this time the upper promenade will be closed to all public access between Alfresco’s restaurant and the West Pier. To minimise disruption, new road crossings for pedestrians and cyclists are being provided which include an alternative short diversion via the new signalled crossing by the Regency Square car park.

As Brighton Bits has mentioned here & here these arches have been lying idle and neglected for many years when they could have been producing revenue and providing a much sought-after public amenity. The Council has previously claimed renovation work had to await the i360 development. Perhaps this premature move signals increased concern about the extent of the deterioration. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

96 Trafalgar Street

These terraced houses with shops were grade ll listed in 1999. Built of brick, now painted, they date from the mid-C19 with C20 shop fronts.  The upper floors have curved and slightly recessed 'blanked windows', seemingly a favourite way of turning a corner at that time. Except for canted bays to the first floor windows on Trafalgar Street, the windows have brick camber arches ; one sash-window of original design remains on the second floor in Trafalgar Street. The building forms a group with houses on the corner of Pelham Square, opposite, and Trafalgar Street, also listed.

Brighton in 3 minutes.

Filmed  with a rate of 15 fps and over 30,000 photos by Ash Lomas.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Open Day at the Engineerium

Boiler room
For the first time for several years the Engineerium held an Open Day on Sunday. All entrance fees were donated to the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice. It seems to have been very well-attended and have given visitors the chance to view the extensive refurbishment and development work in progress.

The Engineerium and its contents were saved a from auction and dispersal a few years ago by local entrepreneur Mr Mike Holland, seen above in conversation with 'Thomas Hawksley', victorian designer of the pumping station, who had kindly reincarnated to provide visitors with guided tours. They are seen in what was the coal store, converted to an exhibition hall in the 1970's and now destined to become a restaurant and bar.

N0.2 Pumping Engine
The boilers were in steam and the no.2 Pumping Engine, in beautiful condition, was  demonstrating its stately, intricate actions.

The new brick work blends seamlessly with the original.
A new skylight to what will become a new Exhibition Hall
The Engineerium across Hove Park
It is intended to open the Engineerium every Sunday throughout the winter.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Crown Gardens

Looking north along Crown Gardens
30 Crown Gardens looking south
Crown Gardens is one of Brighton's famous twittens running between North Road and Church Street, and lying parallel to Queen's Road, which it probably predates. According to the Encyclopaedia of Brighton it was built in the 1820's for employees of the Royal Pavilion and Stables.  To the left of the twitten in the top photo, the original bow-windowed cottages have been replaced by a modern terrace backing on to Kew Street. However on the right hand side several original houses still remain including no.30 and an old length of walling.

Most of the old properties appear in good conditon and occupied but no. 30 has been allowed to fall into disrepair and the inevitable application to demolish has been filed; see planning application BH2012/02601. This calls for the replacement of no.30, and its 'back' yard, with a terrace of 3 modern terraced houses. The ancient wall will disappear. 

So the sanitisation of old Brighton moves inexorably on . . .

Monday, 22 October 2012

16 York Place - then & now

Then being June 2011:-

(See earlier post 16 York Place)

October 2012:-

The building has been nicely restored and given a sympathetic shopfront. The upper floors appear occupied but the shop awaits a tenant. York Place is being slowly but steadily upgraded but one wishes the Planning Department would exercise more control over shop fascia signs. Many of the existing ones appear unnecessarily large and garish for small 19th century properties.

The elegant red brick arch marks the original entrance to Pelham Street School, designed 1876 by Thomas Simpson, Surveyor and Architect to the Brighton & Preston School Board. The arch is not done any favours by the unfortunate positioning of the large road traffic sign. York Place lies within the Valley Gardens CA and to the south of this point several of its buildings are grade ll listed.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Van Alen penthouse proposal

View from Pier
Planning Application BH2012/03157 proposes a side extension on the westernmost penthouse flat of the much-praised Van Alen building on Marine Parade. For the observer it will amount to a white almost cube added on the side terrace on the extreme left of the building. See plan below.

The extension will not be visible from the street but in the view from the pier will clearly upset to some extent the wall/window rhythm of the building. In the past, and all along the seafront, a motley collection of accretions have been allowed to the roofs of many fine buildings not least the decapitation of the Metropole. The extension proposed is, by comparison, a minor blemish. But the Van Alen has become a prestigious example of good modern architecture in Brighton and is still as the architect envisaged it. Perhaps the time has come for the planners to say 'no'.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Blackbird Tea Rooms

Brighton Bits doesn't normally advertise but it is good to see an attractive old building 30 Ship Street nicely restored and put to an appropriate use.

One hopes it will succeed.

The two adjoining proerties to the left 28 & 29 Ship St. are Grade II listed:-
"Terraced houses, now shops. Early C19. Brick painted and stucco, roof obscured by parapet. 3 storeys, one-window range. Ground floor has late C20 shop fronts; upper floors have segmental bays and tripartite windows with sashes apparently of original design; the segmental bays appear to be very heavily renewed, despite the apparent survival of the glazing bars; parapet."
28 & 29 Ship Street