Friday, 30 March 2012

Now a North Laine cinema . . .

Coming soon to the heart of Brighton's North Laine, "Dukes at Komedia" a new 3 screen cinema, screening the best of art house, independent, foreign and mainstream cinema. With a mezzanine cafe bar, and the famous Komedia live venue/cabaret/comedy club remaining downstairs.

Work is beginning over summer  with a view to be screening by December.

The much-loved Duke of Yorks at Preston Circus will be refurbished and continue in action.

Previous post; Komedia to become a cinema?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Saltdean Lido Campaign - local activism at its best

An article in Guardian Professional by Robert Ashton, social entrepreneur, business author and big society troubleshooter, heartily approves the Saltdean Lido Campaign led by Rebecca Crook. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The new National Planning Policy Framework

First readings of the new National Planning Policy Framework published today seem to provide encouraging news for several heritage assets currently at risk in Brighton. The PDF of the document can be downloaded from here.

Section 12, page 30 "Conserving and enhancing the historic environment", has the following statements:-

129. Local planning authorities should identify and assess the particular significance of any heritage asset that may be affected by a proposal (including by development affecting the setting of a heritage asset) taking account of the available evidence and any necessary expertise. They should take this assessment into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset, to avoid or minimise conflict between the heritage asset’s conservation and any aspect of the proposal.

130. Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision.

132. When considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Significance can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification. Substantial harm to or loss of a grade II listed building, park or garden should be exceptional. Substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets of the highest significance, notably scheduled monuments, protected wreck sites, battlefields, grade I and II* listed buildings, grade I and II* registered parks and gardens, and World Heritage Sites, should be wholly exceptional.

Monday, 26 March 2012

London Road Coop and the 'Local List'.

It is encouraging news that at the Cabinet meeting on March 29 (for planning, employment, economy and regeneration) the proposal to add this building to the Local List will be considered and hopefully approved.

The Brighton Local List was originally designated in 1987 and included in the 1995 Brighton Local Plan. Since then it has been periodically updated the last apparently in 2002. There is also a list for Hove  last updated in 1996.
    Policy HE10 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan 2005 states:-

    The Planning Authority will seek to ensure the retention, good maintenance and continued use of buildings of local interest. Whilst not enjoying the full protection of statutory listing, the design and the materials used in proposals affecting these buildings should be of a high standard compatible with the character of the building. 

    The detailed policies towards alterations and extensions to Buildings of Local Interest are the same as those towards buildings in Conservation Areas and the exterior of statutorily Listed Buildings.

    Earlier posts:
    Redevelopment of the London Road Co-op.
    Plans submitted for the London Road Co-op.

    Wednesday, 21 March 2012

    More street clutter on the way . . .

    From a City Council press release:-

    Twelve one way streets in the North Laine area of Brighton could be opened up for cycling in both directions, under proposals being considered by Brighton & Hove City Council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Cabinet Member Meeting (CMM) on March 27.

    The roads being considered (see list under notes to editors) all currently have 20mph speed limits, and signs and road markings would be used to ensure cyclists and other road users share the streets safely.

    Councillor Ian Davey, the city council's Cabinet Member for Transport and Public Realm, said: "The proposals are all about making the whole area more accessible for cyclists, and making it easier for people to get to the shops and businesses in the North Laine. . . . They will also address the concerns raised by local residents and businesses regarding cyclists who use pavements and twittens, by permitting people to cycling legally on the street."

    He added: "A lot of people already cycle in both directions along these one-way streets, putting in the necessary safety measures of signs and road markings would help make sure all road users are aware of the shared use."

     . . . Presumably this is just to satisfy some bureacratic mind somewhere and let cyclists go on doing legally what they do anyway. No one in the North Laine, including motorists, seem to read road signs.

    See: English Heritage - "Save your Street".
    From the archive:- "Down with seafront & other signs."

    Tuesday, 20 March 2012

    Brighton Society supports St. Nicholas footpath

    A new planning application BH2011/00654 has recently been submitted for the hotel at the end of Queen Square backing on to the St. Nicholas churchyard (which is owned by the City Council). 
    An article on the Brighton Society website says:-
    "The previous application, which attracted a great deal of opposition from the residents of nearby Wykeham Terrace, has been withdrawn. The balconies which would have overlooked the the backs of Wykham Terrace have now been omitted from the new plan.

    The Brighton Society is particularly disappointed by another aspect of this application, in that it failed to provide for a pedestrian link between Queen Square and St. Nicholas churchyard. This was previously suggested by Council officers in the notes they drew up to facilitate sale of the site, but it was never presented as an option in the later public consultations.
    The footpath has many advantages:
    • It would increases footfall in Queen Square altering its character from the present unattractive ‘no-go’ area.
    • It would be an advantage to any cafe/restaurant business established in the hotel.
    • It would provide a pleasant traffic-free pedestrian link to the City Centre as an alternative to Dyke Road.
    • By increasing public access to the south-east corner of the churchyard it would lessen the chances of anti-social behaviour in this isolated area.
    • It would open up easy access to one of the best views of St Nicholas church."
    It appears that the proposals for a footpath were excluded very early on, mainly due to opposition from representatives of the St. Nicholas Green Spaces Association. It is difficult to believe that proper and thorough analysis of the advantages of such a path were carried out, or even that the opinions of nearby residents were  canvassed.

    Sunday, 18 March 2012

    100,000 page views

    707 posts since February 2009 have attracted over 100,000 pageviews up to today. The same 4 posts have been occupying the top positions for many months. A recent surprise is the amount of interest shown in "Gala Bingo Hall- demolition imminent" which, although only posted earlier this month, has already entered the top ten.

    Thursday, 15 March 2012

    Valley Gardens consultation.

    Over the years Councils of various shades have promised to "do something" about the Valley Gardens. A commitment to action also featured in the Green Party's manifesto before the last elections. Now a relevant consultation document has been posted on the Council's website. This invites you to record your opinions on the present state of the Gardens and your ideas for their improvement.
    To take part go to:- Consultation Portal - Valley Gardens.

    Here are a few ideas for improvement you might think worth mentioning:-

    Old Steine:-

    •  Dig up the roadway on the south east corner and return it to garden. This was nibbled from the gardens over 100 years ago for the trams, it is now very underused. 
    • Close the St. James St./Castle Sq. traffic crossover (see below) and join the two sections of the Steine up. This will mean that all traffic has to go round the south, or north end of the Steine. So what?
    • Dig up the unused roadway along the west side of the north section and return it to plantings. This area was pinched from the Steine comparatively recently for the bus lanes but has now become redundant.
    • Provide a pedestrian crossing point from the north end of the Steine gardens to the pavement in front of the Royal Pavilion.
    Note. All the locations mentioned are pin-pointed in the above aerial view of the Steine. Click on the picture to see full-size image. 
    St. James's St./Castle Sq. crossover
    Western side of Old Steine north

    Victoria Gardens:-

    Victoria Gardesn southern section
    • In the large southern section put in diagonal paths, where people walk, (see above) and compensate for the loss of grass by reducing the width of the pavements around the edges. These pavements seem to be very rarely used.
    • In the northern narrow section (see below) increase its width by removing much of the perimeter paving, particularly on the west side. It is shabby, unnecessarily wide and seldom used. Provide a path down the centre of the garden so that pedestrians can enjoy their walk at maximum remove from the traffic.

    West side of Victoria gardens north.

    Victoria Gardens north

    Wednesday, 14 March 2012

    Roman coin hoard acquired for Brighton

    The Royal Pavilion & Museums can celebrate another success reflecting its growing importance as a regional museum. With the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund  it has acquired the hoard of Roman coins, and the pot that held it, discovered in the High Weald in 2006 by Tim Symonds from Burwash.

    The 2895 siver coins valued at about £40,000 dates from the 3rd century AD, when the Roman Empire was becoming increasingly fractured & troubled. The value of the hoard then represented someone's life savings. Two are of special significance; the third coin of Tranquillina (wife of Gordian III) and only the second coin of Cornelia Supera (wife of Aemilian) found anywhere in the country. 

    Roger Bland, Keeper of the Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum said: It is the largest hoard of coins of the reigns of Gordian III (238-44), Philip I (244-9), Trajan Decius (249-51) and Trebonianus Gallus (251-3) to have been found in Britain since the Dorchester hoard of 1936 and the coins provide important evidence about this troubled period of Roman history, while the hoard is also an important historical document about Roman Sussex.’

    The hoard will go on display in Brighton Museum in the Summer. Plans for a touring display in early 2013 will take the hoard to other local museums including Hastings Museum, Bexhill Museum, Battle Museum, Eastbourne Museum and Fishbourne Roman Villa.

    Tuesday, 13 March 2012

    New trees for Patcham village?

    The City's Arboricultural Manager, Rob Greenland is investigating the suitability of this large area of asphalt between the Black Lion, Patcham & the Jubilee Fountain for the planting of two trees.

    The area was created last year during the A23 traffic improvement work by the removal of the short slip road between the A23 and Church Hill, Patcham. It seems an ideal location for the establishment of a large tree or two which would greatly enhance the appearance of this important City gateway location. Such a planting would also restore something of the streetscape of times past as illustrated in this c.100 year-old postcard below.

    The critical factors that have to be determined are the location of any underground services and whether or not the original road still remains beneath the paving.

    Monday, 12 March 2012

    Saltdean Lido - Conran letter

    Paul Zara, Director, Conran & Partners writing to the Argus says:-

    "COUNCILLOR Bowden claims the council is working “as quickly as the law allows” to get Saltdean Lido repaired and open to the public in good condition (Letters, March 2), and somehow implies that Rebecca Crook and the Save Saltdean Lido campaign are asking for a change in the law to speed things up – they are not."

    Read complete letter.

    Earlier posts:
    Saltdean Lido - a nil valuation
    Saltdean Lido - response from a Councillor

    Thursday, 8 March 2012

    Saltdean Lido - a nil valuation

    The City Council's consulting surveyor has completed his survey and puts a nil valuation on the remainder of the 125 year lease of the Saltdean Lido.

    A still lengthy process lies ahead but the City Council is now in the advantageous position of knowing that, should it become necessary (as the Saltdean Lido campaign believes it will), it can acquire control of the Lido and adjoining site without substantial cost.

    Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    Festival Programme covers

    Just over three years ago the first post on Brighton Bits was motivated by the simple desire to have a quick moan about the cover design of the Festival programme.  The guest director that year was Anish Kapoor and I likened his design to a "tide of gloom creeping over the city", suggestive of a then threatening recession. It may have been prophetic!

    Mr Kapoor's other contributions to the 2009 Festival were more stimulating and he has since gone on to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy. One of his latest works is the landmark sculpture for the Olympic Park, "ArcelorMittal Orbit", see below.

    ArcelorMittal Orbit

    The cover for this year's programme is attractive and uncontroversial. It is based on a photograph by Victor Skerebneski of Vanessa Redgrave, this year's Guest Director. The design of cover image and programme is by  Harrison & Co. of Marlborough Place, Brighton.

    Tuesday, 6 March 2012

    The King & Queen (not)

    One can entirely sympathise with public houses doing all they can to attract custom but the King & Queen management has surely blundered in putting up this banner so soon. Passers-by are hardly likely to remember this information for 3 months; and, even were the banner to remain, it will, by that time, be looking saggy and shabby.  If, on the other hand, they had delayed until the end of June, the banner would have the impact of immediacy and, by the time the 'powers-that-be' had realised it didn't have planning permission, the Olympics would be over.

    The King lost half his Queen last year when she split longitudinally from head to feet. The remaining half was removed a few weeks ago. If the first half has not been spirited away by a souvenir hunter it will be a simple matter to join the two halves together again. Whatever, the pub is grade II listed in the Valley Gardens conservation area, and the King is looking very lonely. One hopes the Queen will be restored soon by any means.

    Saltdean Lido - response from a Councillor

    Following a letter from the Saltdean Lido Campaign to The Council's Chief Executive John Barradell (Saltdean Lido Campaign calls for Chief Executive to get involved) the Argus has published a letter from Cr.  Geoffrey Bowden the Cabinet member for Culture who has been leading negotiations with the Lido leaseholder Denis Audley.

    Cr. Bowden claims they are working as quickly as the law allows and that taking a repossession case to court is likely to fail. They remain committed to a solution and are invoking the law relating to listed buildings to pressurise the lessee into making repairs. A warning letter has been sent and a schedule of required works is being drawn up. This may lead to enforcement action which if ignored could lead to forfeiture of the building.
    It has been established that the leaseholder is prepared to talk about surrendering the lease, although there can be no guarantees he will do so. Cr. Bowden says that the Council has no interest in delaying a solution.

    Monday, 5 March 2012

    57 West Street (Molly Malone's)

    Foremerly known as "The Heist" and ill-advisedly painted black, no.57 has been given a handsome makeover as "Molly Malone's". It must have taken many coats of paint, which can have done nothing to enhance the detailing of the seriously damaged reliefs. For the record they depicts mermaids, a Brighton dolphin, scallop shells, fruit and mythical birds, possibly griffins.

    In the early 19th.C the Carpenter's Arms public house, later the Compasses, stood on this site. It was rebuilt for Edlins as Christie's Hotel in about 1901. The Brighton Pevsner descibes it as being in the Free Renaissance Late Victorian style and compares it to the work of London architects Treadwell & Martin, 1890-1910.
    80 Fetter Lane by Treadwell & Martin

    It became "The Bosun" in the 1970s, the "Nellie Peck" in 1986 and "The Heist" about 10 years ago; each change requiring a repaint, the consequent erection of scaffolding and increased chance of accidental damage.

    No.57 lies within the Old Town conservation area. At one time it may have been grade III listed. This was a non-statutory designation abolished in 1970. Properties in Brighton with this listing were then transferred to the council's own "local list". This list is not published, although no. 57 may still be on it.

    57 West Street

    Saturday, 3 March 2012

    "Dreams of Here"

    The current art exhibition at Brighton Art Gallery features the work of three living painters linked by their strong associations with Sussex. The differences between these three artists in terms of style, technique and subject matter is huge. Undeterred by this however, the anonymous writer of the publicity leaflet has done a splendid job in teasing out a common theme for the exhibition:

    The leaflet declaims, "Brought together their work follows the course of a journey from a land of literal description, (Julian Bell, below) . . .

    . . .Through the layered subtleties of sense perception (Tom Hammick, see left) . . .

    . . . into the buried landscapes of our subconscious worlds.
    (Andrezej Jackowski, below). My brackets throughout.

    Entry is free, it is on until June 10th and well worth a visit.

    East Street improvements

    The south end of East Street is now closed to vehicular traffic and work has started to raise the pavement so that the footway height will remain constant for those walking east-west on Grand Junction Road. Also to be implemented will be:-
    • A new ‘straight across’ pedestrian and cyclist crossing point on Grand Junction Road aligned with East Street.
    • Reversal of the one-way flow on the section of King’s Road behind Queen's Hotel.
    The north end of East Street is already a busy, popular area but to the south the pavements are narrow and the seafront traffic a formidable obstacle.  This welcome scheme is intended to enhance the pedestrian connections between the key tourist destinations of The Lanes, Royal Pavilion and seafront, benefiting walkers and businesses, particularly those in the south of East Street, alike.

    Surprising that no one thought of it before. . . . .

    Friday, 2 March 2012

    "Ye Racehorse Inne"

    No. 212 Elm Grove  occupies the corner with Queen's Park Road with great style and confidence. Built in the early 1880s, yet still largely unaltered, it is also a wonderful showcase of the architectural preoccupations of the time; the tudor-revival chimneys, timber-framing, upper sash window panes patterned with glazing bars; the Arts & Crafts style lettering. It is not listed or in a conservation area.

    It has recently been closed as a public house, sold, and is now  undergoing  extensive interior alteration to form one 1 bedroom, one 2 bedroom and one 3 bedroom maisonettes. Among the external alterations the windows will all be replaced with double-glazed black UPVC units and the present front door will be replaced with a window. See BH2012/01177.

    A small plot of adjacent land on Queen's Park Road is subject to a planning application BH2012/00280 by C J Planning of Rugby Road, Brighton, for the erection of a 3 bed, 2 storey house. The accompanying design statement includes the comment:-
     "A contemporary design approach is considered to be appropriate here as a distinct contrast with the ordered late 19th century terraces on the other side of Queen's Park Road and the ornate “Tudorbeathan” (sic) features of the pub." 

    The term "Tudorbethan" was, in fact, coined by poet and conservationist John Betjamen to describe the 20th century mock-tudor style. This style is widespread in Brighton's suburbs, e.g. Woodland Drive: it somehow does not seem to carry the conviction or panache of its 19th century predecessor.

    Thursday, 1 March 2012

    Gala Bingo Hall - demolition imminent.

    Demolition is expected to start shortly on the Gala Bingo Hall in Portland Road, Hove. It opened as the Granada cinema in 1933, and, as with other cinemas at that time, was also equipped with a stage, dressing rooms and cinema organ for live performances. It closed as a cinema in 1974 but shortly afterwards was opened by Ladbokes as a Bingo Hall. The stalls were levelled off and the circle concealed above a suspended ceiling. It remained as a bingo hall under various owners until 2003 when proposals were put forward for redevelopment of the site as flats. It has remained closed in a deteriorating state ever since. Permisson for demolition and redevelopment was granted in November last year.

    The plans submitted by Conran & Partners, provide a new GP surgery at part ground floor level and part first floor level, a separate commercial unit at ground floor level, 31 flats above in part 2, 3, 4 and 5 storey building to include 14 affordable units. Also provided is surface parking for 18 cars, cycle parking and landscaping.

    Further history see:- Granada Hove History