Saturday, 25 January 2014

Wellington Road

18 Wellington Road
This elegant Italianate villa, now boarded-up, which looks to be contemporary with grade II listed Montpelier Villas, had the last application (BH2013/01254) for complete demolition refused, but an earlier one for part-demolition remains in force. Unfortunately the reasons given for the current refusal do not include the loss of prized architecture but focus on short-comings in the design of the proposed two blocks of flats, and the loss of green space and community facilities.

In principle therefore there seem nothing to halt the inexorable despoilation of Wellington Road which has already lost several Victorian properties to the bland, brick, ubiquitous box.

The unspoiled end of Wellington Rd.

Friday, 24 January 2014

252-253 Preston Road

At a meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee on 16 January, councillors decided to dispose of the vacant 251-253 Preston Road to Southern Housing Group on a 150 year lease. The property near Preston Park Station has been used in recent years by children’s services. which have now moved to Moulsecoomb.

The housing association plans to convert the building to provide 24 flats and build seven new houses in the rear gardens of which 40% would be available at low cost. No planning application has yet been filed. 

To aim for seven houses in the back garden seems rather excessive and would result in a pocket of development with a population density quite out of keeping with that of the surrounding area.

253 Preston Road

From Clermont

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Stanmer Rural Museum under threat.

We understand that this charming little museum, run entirely by volunteers of the Stanmer Preservation Society, is at risk. The property it occupies is part of the Stanmer House estate and the leaseholder has given the Society notice to quit by Easter. 

Meanwhile, within a few footsteps, numerous empty farm-buildings lie quietly rotting in the care of the City Council who have been trying to find commercial uses for them for over 3 years, (see  Stanmer farm buildings to be developed). The Museum isn't of course 'commercial' and would have to piggy-back on some other activity but there is no prospect of this materialising by Easter. One hopes the leaseholder, who surely cannot be unsympathetic, will have some ideas of his own for an interim solution.

Inside the listed barn

The farm-yard

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Hippodrome Restoration - update 2

The planning applications BH2013/04351 and 04348 filed just before Christmas have been declared invalid by Council planners. It is understood that they lacked details and drawings necessary for a listed building and a feasibility study. This is somewhat surprising considering the efforts that were being put into these proposals. New applications are expected soon.

The video below provides a short tour of the development as it is visualised on completion.

There seems much to welcome in the plans, not the least that it is the only realistic game in town to save the basic fabric of the much-loved Hippodrome; but it also seeks to do so in a way that restores and invigorates a somewhat run-down area of the Old Town. Rather than resorting to imitation or pastiche it should be perfectly acceptable for each age to leave the stamp of its own architectural style on the built environment thus adding to the sense of organic variety that makes historic centres so attractive.

Everyone  will have their own opinion but to my eye the cinema entrance proposed for Middle St. seems excellent in detail & scale with the upper edge of the black-tiling aligning approximately with the eaves of adjoining buildings.

On the other hand the building proposed for the Ship Street entrance appears too tall and bulky and too dominating for the narrow pavements and small scale of the nearby buildings.

Previous post: Hippodrome restoration - update

Sunday, 19 January 2014


Fly-tipping near Braypool roundabout. Old furniture and, in the distance, bags of builders' waste which contain what appears to be broken asbestos sheeting. I would stop short at calling for the death penalty for the perpetrators, but stocks and pillory would seem entirely appropriate. Perhaps the public could be permitted to pelt them with the smaller items of their rubbish. 

Of course the first priority is to catch them and this is where modern technology could surely come in. Wild-life photographers seem to be able to perform marvels with cleverly concealed autonomous cameras. Could not similar items be deployed to catch fly-tippers? It would only need one or two which could be moved around between likely spots thus creating uncertainty in the minds of potential offenders. It would be even better if any fines could be hypothecated towards the cost. But, if this is not possible and cost is a problem, do we really need all the cameras dotted around the City Centre and trained for 99% of the time on mainly law-abiding citizens? 

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Marina cinema

The cinema in the Marina has excellent car-parking facilities. in fact it is nearly surrounded by covered parking space. It has parking to the east, to the west and above. The south side pictured above, fully exposed to the prevailing wind and weather, contains the only entrance to the cinema. 

The free parking is a great attraction, but the potential cinema-going driver, tempted out in bad weather, has to face a 50 yard walk along the south side from either direction, to gain the shelter of the foyer. This gives ample time to arrive at the cinema with dripping umbrellas and raincoats. 

Many non-drivers might be tempted to dismiss this situation with a sardonic "hard-cheese". This would be fair comment if it were not that a simple inexpensive remedy was readily available to the original architects. Namely that of incorporating into the design a direct indoor entrance from the car park to the foyer. It is difficult to see that the omission of this feature is due to anything other than incompetence.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Old Town traffic-free scheme

Pavement cafĂ© tables, better shopping and fewer accidents are a step closer under a scheme for traffic-free streets in Brighton’s historic heart.

The council is set to approve measures which would exclude vehicles most of the day from key parts of the old town – the area surrounding the Town Hall.  It follows a public inquiry concluded in the autumn when a government inspector approved changes comprising:
  • Traffic prohibited from East Street between 11am and 7pm each day. The inspector said the move would help businesses and improve road safety. However it was felt impacts of diverting traffic into Little East Street should be investigated more. So excluding cars from East Street would be implemented once a sound scheme for Little East Street was ready. Plans are being designed and would be subject to public consultation.
  • Closing a section of Ship Street between Duke Street and North Street to general traffic. There would be ‘access only’ for a few hours in the morning. It would be one-way from the south instead of the north, barring access from North Street.  
  • Excluding traffic from a section of Prince Albert Street between Ship Street and Black Lion Street. Measures will be designed to allow loading for the nearby Friends Meeting House and access to a solicitors’ car park. Before proceeding, the council wants to assess the effects of closing Ship Street.
A report recommending councillors to approve the measures goes before the environment committee on January 14, and work is expected to start in Ship Street, with improvements there completed in March.  Dates for other changes are yet to be confirmed.

Old Town traffic - Public Enquiry results.