Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Patcham Peace Garden

According to Timothy Carder in the 'Encylopaedia of Brighton' the Doric Temple and Tuscan Pergola were purchased from the 1924 Wembley Exhibition (also the source of the Mazda Fountain in the Valley Gardens) and erected in 1928. It seems likely therefore that they were a source of inspiration for Captain Maclaren's designs for the Level  commenced about 1929. Captain Maclaren was Superintendent of Brighton Parks Department from 1920 to 1951 and may even have had a hand in the purchase of these artifacts. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Preston Road, & Station from the air

A 1920 aerial shot from the new online collection- Britain from Above.

Points of interest (apart from the massive railway works): the row of large Victorian villas along the Preston Road, now all gone with one exception at Lovers Walk; the chimney beyond the station, presumably the North Road Power Station; and over to the right the spire of Clifton Road Congregational Church, now also gone.

The Level Restoration Project - a recap

The ongoing rumblings of discontent about the relocation of the Skate Park have recently been fanned into new flame by the rather belated intervention of the Regency Society, see Argus article and subsequent protracted comments here. One particular strain of opinion, almost a conspiracy theory, has it that the good people of Brighton were somehow deliberately misled by council officials into voting for something they didn't really want, i.e. to move the skate park into the northern section of the Level. In view of this it seems salutary to revisit the final stage of the consultation for a reminder of the information given, the details and scope of the options proposed and the final results of the poll.

The following is extracted from the "The Level Public Consultation March 2012", which can be found on the Council's Parks & Countryside pages here.

Consultation packs including detailed information were sent to around 27,000 households within a 15 minute walk catchment of the park.  Information and questionnaires were also available on the web, online consultation portal and at exhibitions around the city.  Two main options were consulted on:

OPTION 1 - Skatepark South of Rose Walk
The main benefit of this option is that it retains the cultural heritage value and the open public space of the lawn areas to the north of the park. It does mean however, that there is less space for the sensory gardens and picnics lawns around the café and water fountains.

OPTION 2 – Skatepark North of Rose Walk
The main benefit of this option is that the restored heritage layout in the south has a larger sensory gardens and picnic lawns around the café and water fountains. However, moving the skatepark will reduce the amount of open space in the north and change the open look and feel of this area.

We had a very good response to the consultation, with a total of 3,330 questionnaires completed. The majority (82%) of responses came from residents living within the 15 minute walk catchment of The Level.

The headline findings are summarised below:-

1113 people (33.5%) chose Option 1: Skatepark to the south of the Rose Walk
1836 people (55%) chose Option 2: Skatepark to the north of the Rose Walk
2735 responses came from households living within a 15 minute walk of the park and 33% of these chose Option 1 and 54% Option 2.
Of those households who made a choice 62% would like it to be moved to the north of the Rose Walk and 38% keep it to the south of the Rose Walk.
381 people (11.5%) did not express a preference.

These results reflect those from the 2009 consultation where 57% of respondents preferred the design with the skatepark in the northern end of the park and 31% preferred the skatepark to remain where it is.

The clear and unambiguous key illustrations provided at this stage of the consultation are reproduced below:-

It is unbelievable that anyone taking part in the consultation can have been under any misapprehension as to what they were voting for. It seems that some people are only in favour of public consultations if it gives the answer they want.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The New Level Skatepark

The Council's Parks Project Team  has submitted a Planning Application BH2012/01598 for the construction of a new city centre skate park together with associated landscaping.

The ramps will be sunk below ground level and screened on all 3 sides by a planted raised border protected by a galvanised knee-high rail. 

Visualisations of the landscaping before and after are provided.
From the south west:-

 From the north west:-

Relocation of the skatepark will allow a full and attractive restoration of the southern section to provide for the recreational preferences identified by the extensive public consultation. See the Final Master Plan  on the Council's website. 

Brighton Station; then & now

Then, 1967:-

Now, 2012:-

Looking north-east. Probably between the wars:-

 . . and in 2012:-

We tend to forget what a grimy business rail travel was even within living memory. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Seven Dials

Brighton & Hove City Council is looking at how to make improvements around one of the city’s most unwelcoming junctions at Seven Dials, improve road safety and make the area easier to get around.

Residents, business people and visitors to the area are invited to take part in a workshop next Tuesday, 26 June at St Nicholas Church in Dyke Road, which is being held between 3pm and 7pm. Simply register your details to or call 01273 290487.

Seven Dials is a major road junction to the northwest of the city centre. It has seven roads that radiate outwards from a roundabout, including the busy Dyke Road. There have been 41 accidents in the area* since 2007, nine of them serious.

The aim of the workshop is to:

  • take a look at Seven Dials
  • put together objectives for a design brief
  • agree up to five representatives to work closely with the council to develop the design brief and final designs ready for public consultation

The council would also like to find out what people see as the big issues at Seven Dials and the three top things they would like to change.

* Statistics cover an area approximately 100 metres radius from the centre of Seven Dials

Some years ago there were embryonic plans to revert to a large central island with a specially commissioned public art work in the centre. I wonder what happened to those?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Crumbling seafront arches

The Council tell us that, east of the West Pier site, the renovation of the arches is awaiting 'trickle-down' funds from the i360 project. It seems doubtful that the trickle will extend all the way to the bandstand. One also wonders why renovation of these arches wasn't included in the general makeover of this section of the lower promenade completed just a few years ago.

Monday, 18 June 2012

State of Mind: A Consciousness Expo

The Expo, hosted in central Brighton at the magnificent Corn Exchange complex, will feature an interactive showcase of new technologies that exploit and explore many aspects of consciousness, perception, and human experience. Exhibits will have a strong interactive component allowing you to be immersed in, and to learn about, different aspects of your own conscious experience and their biological basis. There will also be plentiful opportunities to talk with the scientists, technologists, and artists investigating consciousness from their many differing perspectives.

State of Mind will have a strong focus on the core theme of consciousness science, with exhibits covering topics such as: introspection, mind-bending visual illusions, striking scientific images of the brain, sensory substitution devices, impossible objects, myths, morphs and memes, virtual-reality environments, bio-feedback, eye-tracking, and much, much more.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

City Plan Question Time

A Question Time debate on the Brighton & Hove City Plan; presented by Sprunt & Centurion Group, in association with Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership and hosted at Brighton College.

In the Chair: Roger French OBE DL. MD Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Co, Ltd
On the panel:
Paul Westbrook, Bursar, Brighton College
Selma Montford, The Brighton Society, Conservation Advisory Group
Colin Monk, Pro Vice Chancellor, Brighton University
Martin Randall, Head of Planning & Public Protection, City Council
Scott Marshall, MD, This is Regeneration Ltd.

Question about the i360 at 23 minutes (approx)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Serlian windows

Grade I listed Marlborough House, remodelled by Robert Adam c.1786 provides (probably) the only example in Brighton of "serlian" windows. These consist of a half-round arched section flanked by two rectangular sections and separated by columns or pilasters. They are named after Sebastio Serlio, an architectural author c.1500. 

Pevsner, in his Sussex volume, declares Marlborough House to have  the finest facade in Brighton.

Chiswick House (below), also remodelled from an earlier house, also includes serlian windows but here as part of a full-on 1720s Palladian design much favoured by its owner Robert Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington; he of the Arcade & Royal Academy but no connection to the physicist.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Draft City Plan Part One

On 10 May 2012 Cabinet approved the Draft City Plan Part One [PDF 3.38mb] for public consultation for eight weeks starting Monday 28 May and ending 20 July 2012. You can also see the cabinet agenda and report. The council is seeking views on the draft plan before a final version is submitted to the government next year for independent examination.

Hard copies of the draft City Plan and supporting documents are available to view at  the city’s Customer Service Centres and in all of the city libraries. You can also view the full document and send in comments online using the City Plan One survey on the consultation portal. You can also download the consultation documents from there.

All comments must be received by no later than 20 July 2012.

Any queries contact

Comments on the Draft City Plan part 1 will inform the final version of the City Plan which will be taken to Full Council at the end of this year for approval.  The final, formal stage of consultation on the City Plan Part 1 will be about the tests of ‘soundness’ and this is scheduled to take place January – February 2013. Currently the proposed dated for submission to the Secretary of State is April 2013 and the proposed date for adoption is January 2014.

City Plan Presentation.

A presentation on the draft City Plan by Brighton & Hove City Council's Rob Fraser (Head of Planning Strategy), as part of Brighton & Hove City Council's public consultation process.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

67 East Street

Unlike its near neighbour 63 East Street, this red-brick facade has remained unpainted. It is however showing its age, which perhaps gives a clue as to why painting might be resorted to. A coat of paint, as well as disguising deterioration, may also help to stabilise the surface by water-proofing it. Some repair work has been attempted around the windows as indicated by a change of colour. Perhaps some cement-based infill was moulded in situ, when what is really required is the use of replacement hand-moulded bricks. These are still available from specialist firms but would undoubtedly be expensive, especially in small numbers. 
The property is unlisted like all the others on this side of East Street but it enjoys some protection by being within the Old Town CA. It has survived 130 years.  Perhaps if it survives another 100 or so its very antiquity will generate the will and the means to ensure its proper preservation.

Preston Park parking

The parking charges proposed by the Council in January this year ("Preston Park parking proposals") have been finalised. These will be introduced on June 18th in the Ride & the Gallop shown in red above. The charges, which will apply daily from 9am to 6pm, are as follows:-
  • Up to one hour 50p
  • Up to two hours £1
  • Up to three hours £2
  • Up to six hours £3 
All other areas of the park, with the exception of some free disabled parking bays, will be pedestrian only zones. Disabled parking was originally suggested for the areas shown in blue.

These charges are lower than on street parking charges and disabled parking for Blue Badge holders will be free.

Simultaneously the maximum length of stay for on-street parking along part of nearby Preston Park Avenue is being extended from four to 11 hours from Monday June 18 to provide alternative parking for workers, residents and others. BrightonBits commented on the need for changes here in April last year. See "Parking (not) in Preston Park Avenue".

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Brighton Come the Revolution

"When the Revolution hits Brighton there will be no more estate agents, no more luxury holiday flats, and homelessness will be a thing of the past. Empty lots will become free adventure playgrounds, the seafront’s amusement arcades will be bulldozed and replaced with sandy beaches, and toys will be shared collectively – or so argues Brighton Voice, the radical local newspaper in circulation 1973-1989 (making it one of the longest-running alternative papers in the UK)."

Complete article: Brighton Come the Revolution « Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums

Seaside camping . . .

 . . . in Little East Street. Just round the corner from the Town Hall and the luxury Thistle Hotel. The other face of Brighton.

Monday, 11 June 2012

RIBA Love Architecture Festival 2012

From June 15th to 22nd you can follow a trail of installations located in the offices of Brighton architects. Curated by Gem Barton the trail matches together local artists and architects offices with a view to engaging the general public with the face of architecture.

Friday, 8 June 2012

189 Kingsway refused

The Planning Committee meeting on the 6th June refused application BH2012/00982 for housing on the old Sackville Hotel site, Kingsway, Hove, on the grounds that it failed to respect the surrounding conservation area. The design was described as visually jarring.

The application was for five six-storey town-houses facing the sea. A separate block facing Sackville Gardens, to the right, would have had two flats and two maisonettes. Both buildings were of modern design. Other factors were; the failure to respect the existing building line in the side road, Sackville Gardens, and the west end of the town-houses being only half a metre from the site boundary. It was felt the latter factor would have compromised the redevelopment of 191 Kingsway next door. This seems poetic justice as, at the Planning Committee meeting in April, the present applicants were objecting to the plans for 191 on similar grounds. See: 191 Kingsway.

However apart from attending to these details, it is difficult to see where the architects are going next. Especially as Cr Hawtree, Chair of the Planning Committee avows they are not opposed to modern designs in Conservation Areas.

2 Mount Zion Place

This  house, facing across Church Street, was built in 1821 for William Shelly, Sexton of St. Nicholas for 60 years and Parish Beadle.* It was originally known as 'Shelleys', later as 'Mount Zion House". The gabled porch was added c.1900. It is connected with the church by a now blocked-up tunnel. Originally a terraced property, it is semi-detached since the demolition of the north-west side of Mount Zion Place in the 1960's. This was a terrace of quaint, but neglected, early 19th century cottages. They  had long front gardens and today would have had estate agents exhausting their powers of encomium. 'Shelleys' was grade II listed in 1989 but the unusual front wall is unfortunately not included.    
  *Timothy Carder, EOB

The house meets 48 Church Street, next door, in a strange configuration. 'Shelleys' was presumably built before 48, but it is difficult to imagine the process whereby it acquired a small triangle of garden to the inconvenience of the builder of 48. The latter was thereby obliged to execute a complicated oblique change of direction for the sake of a few extra square feet of floor area.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Council prayers in Brighton and Hove

National Secular Society - Council prayers – the ripples are still spreading: Brighton and Hove

"The new mayor of Brighton and Hove, Bill Randall, has announced that he intends to significantly increase the amount of religious participation before council meetings. As well as Christian Ministers, rabbis, Buddhists and Muslim imams will be invited to lead prayers in the council chamber.
Mr Randall says that this is all part of his 'multi-faith' year initiative forBrightonand Hove City Council.
Cllr Randall said the new multi-faith services would be legal because councillors would not be "formally summoned to attend" although they would take place in the council chamber. He said: "This is to better reflect the many faiths in our city and about promoting love and peace. During the year we will have one faith for every council meeting and the reaction to the idea has been terrific."
But one man who wasn't pleased about this was Bill McIlroy, former secretary of the NSS and editor of the Freethinker, from the Brighton and Hove Humanist Society, who said the decision to introduce multi-faith prayers into council meetings was "completely out of order".
He told the Brighton Argus: "Councils are elected to do civic business, not for part-time worshippers to turn public buildings into religious buildings. It's no good saying these prayers are fine because they are not on the agenda. They are just looking for loopholes because they know people will object. It's a total waste of time. Brighton is one of the most secular cities in the UK so I think they've got a nerve."

The Cottage, Little East Street

"The Cottage" Little East Street, was built in the late 1700's and the two ground floor bay windows and lean-to roof were added c.1900. The obscured bay to the left of the door is triangular. The front wall is of pitch-painted flint cobbles with painted brick quoins. It was grade II listed in 1971. The period lampost to the left is at the entrance to the twitten made famous by the film  'Quadrophenia'. It adds a pleasing visual punctuation to the scene.

The viewpoint of the  photo from the from the top of the Bartholomew steps avoids converging verticals.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Brighton Station Gateway 2

The orange lines represent options for new bus stop locations
Members of the public will have a further opportunity to give their views on how to improve the area around Brighton Station at two staffed exhibitions on the station concourse.

Brighton & Hove City Council is working with transport companies, residents, visitors and businesses to look at what can be done to improve the area around the city’s busiest transport hub. Brighton station is one of the busiest in the country operating from a historic but cramped site.

Following initial consultation at the end of last year three draft design options have been drawn up. Public views will be taken into account in the selection of a preferred design.
Residents, commuters, visitors and those wanting to take part can drop in at the exhibition on Tuesday, 12 June, 2-9pm or Wednesday, 13 June, 7am-2pm.

The council is looking to improve the space in front of the station which is currently dominated by traffic, but doesn’t work particularly well for taxis, buses or private vehicles.

A large number of people arrive and leave the station on foot but they have limited facilities.

Councillor Ian Davey, chair of the city’s transport committee, said: “There has been an excellent response so far and the designs we are currently consulting on have been drawn up from what people have told us.

“What we are trying to create is a great welcome to the city from the station area, a space that everyone can enjoy, and a place that helps you get where you’re going as quickly, or as slowly, as you want.”

See also: Brighton Station Gateway

"The lunatics are running the asylum"

This is a  phrase quoted from an excoriating article on the i360 project in this month's "What's Happening" magazine. The article is by Brighton's favourite entrepreneur Mike Holland and in it he asks, "If we have £17 million to spare, why are we closing libraries and toilets? Why are we not supporting local charities sufficiently to ensure the very vulnerable people in our society do not suffer needlessly?" 

He also claims out that a sustainable replacement pier which he and his partner had offered to finance could be built for £25M, much less than the i360, but that the "huge egos within the West Pier Trust precluded that from happening".

Mr Holland provides a detailed analysis of the financial prospects for the i360 which it seems difficult to fault. He concludes that even assuming optimistic customer figures the annual running costs will exceed expenditure by over £1M.

Meanwhile, over at the Argus, a letter from Brighton Society Chairman Malcolm Dawes  about the successful Saltdean Lido Campaign refers to the tenacity the campaign has had to employ in getting action from a foot-dragging Council. He refers to an earlier letter from Rebecca Crook, chair of the campaign, in which she compared the council’s offer of £14 million to the developers of the i360 with the Scrooge-like attitude of supporting the listed Saltdean Lido (Letters, May 15).

Mr Dawes says, "The main priority for the council should be ensuring the city’s existing leisure facilities are well-managed and provide a high-quality service to residents and visitors – and ensure swimming pools do not remain closed on hot sunny days.

But it seems its priority is acting as a financial backer to a speculative development.

Keeping swimming pools open seems a much better use for the council’s money in such harsh economic times."