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.