Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Free Parking in the City Centre.

At the north end of Old Steine lies a 100 yard stretch of abandoned bus lane from an old traffic scheme. It has been occasionally used for parking road-repairing equipment and materials but now lies unused and, what is very rare in Brighton, devoid of any yellow lines or parking restrictions.

The lane can comfortably accommodate about 12 cars parked end to end. It can be accessed from either end, although exiting from the north against the traffic flow is perhaps not to be recommended.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Council gets tough on trailers

Caravans, trailers and other engineless vehicles left stored on roads or pavements in Brighton & Hove could be removed under a new council policy in an attempt to tidy the streets and free up parking spaces.

Kingsway , Hove
It would entail the council invoking already-available powers under the Highways Act 1980.  In a survey 82 per cent of respondents said they support action being taken.

So-called non-motorised vehicles or NMVs are seen as an increasing problem.  Since 2012 the council has dealt with over 400 reports.

Historically the council has only ever removed NMVs using refuse disposal powers.  But this requires them to have been abandoned. Lived-in vehicles are tackled by the council’s travellers team. Until now there has been no policy on vehicles which are neither abandoned nor lived in.

However Section 143 of the Highways Act allows removal of structures from the highway – regardless whether they are owned or abandoned.  Legislation requires the council to issue a notice. After a month the vehicle can be removed.  Costs can be recovered from any identified owner.

Implementing the policy would cost an estimated £5,000 to £10,000 a year.  Costs would be reduced where possible by charging owners for the return of trailers or by selling them.

A report on the matter goes to the environment committee on June 28.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Shelter Hall - The Planning Application

The proposal
The long-anticipated application for the rebuilding of the Shelter Hall is BH2016/01877. It calls for the demolition of existing building and external steps; the erection of a two-storey building at lower promenade level and new external steps. The new building to incorporate a mezzanine floor and a single storey rotunda building on the upper promenade level on a raised plinth. The development will provide retail/cafĂ©/restaurant/public toilets. 

Looking west former view
Looking west after proposed rebuilding

South contextual elevation
The design is being handled by Solar Architecture Ltd., of Upper Beeding, who were also responsible for the design of the award-winning West Pier arches. We can be hopeful that the new Shelter Hall will attain the same high standard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Restoration of the Seafront.


Sweethill from Old Court Close
Thankfully Sweethill, 427ft. high, still looks worthy of its name and very few traces remain of the 'shack & track' settlement that once covered its flanks.  This settlement resulted from the sell-off in 1921 of part of the Abergavenny Estate. Plots at £10 per quarter acre were snapped up by ex-servicemen to turn into small holdings.  The settlement grew rapidly but with only cesspools for drainage.

Unfortunately the land was in the catchment area for Brighton's water supply but was in the jurisdiction of Steyning RDC who had to rely on the very limited powers of the 1932 Town & Country Planning Act. Finally Brighton Council was forced to promote a Parliamentary Bill to secure the land which became part of Brighton in 1928.  The settlement was cleared and the hiatus of WW2 completed the process of disintegration.

During and after the war the area became very popular with Brighton residents who, in the autumn would take a short bus ride, or cycle, to avail themselves of the produce of the abandoned plots; apples, damsons, crabs, and as rewilding progressed, luscious blackberries.

In 1960 proposals surfaced to develop land on Sweethill as a film studio,  but nothing seems to have come of it. Sweethill is now in the South Downs National Park.

Today there are only two properties left. At estimated asking prices of c.£800,000 we can probably feel fairly relaxed about their means of sewage disposal.

Brighton's new hospital.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Brighton ice-skating

Over the last few decades, particularly since the Queen Square pocket rink closed, Brighton ice-skating enthusiasts have campaigned tirelessly for a new state-of-the-art rink.
The latest Council response can be found in the report "Ice Rink - Potential Provision in Brighton and Hove" to be presented to the Economic and Development & Culture Committee on 16th June. Agenda Item 8.

Unfortunately the campaigners are unlikely to be much encouraged by this report. The lack of funds and lack of a suitable site are cited and the ball is kicked further down the road by the promise of a "soft-marketing testing exercise".
(The exercise is unlikely to result immediately in an order for goods and services: more likely is that the outcome of the exercise will enable the purchasing business to refine its requirements and approach to market in order to then invite businesses to quote. Wiki)

The Panari Sky Centre, Nairobi
Nairobi has managed to acquire a skating facility, under much more unfavourable conditions than Brighton, by  the incorporation of a solar-powered rink into the basement of a large entertainments/shopping complex. A development not unlike  the massive southward extension of Churchill Square now being planned by Standard Life Investments. A location which would lend itself beautifully to the use of solar-panels.
Money would remain a problem unless we could ask Kenya to return a few millions of the £595M we sent them this year.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

First thoughts for the Madeira Terraces.

The city council is this week confirming it intends to bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government for between £3m and £4m for kick-starting the regeneration of Brighton’s Madeira Terraces. A bid will be submitted by June 30.

Already council officials have been in talks with civil servants who confirmed the DCLG would accept a bid.  Positive discussions have also been held with Historic England – successor agency to English Heritage – whose support would be crucial.

Picture shows idea of how Terraces could look with business units

The council believes the most likely solution would be sympathetically to integrate small business units into the structure’s arches.  These could suit a variety of uses ranging from cafes to offices or hotel apartment-type accommodation.  Revenue from businesses, in the form of rents and business rates, would help fund the structure’s long-term maintenance. No firm decisions have been made and any changes of use would require planning permission.

The upper terraces could be retained as public promenades.

Details of the plan are still being worked on and are expected to be more fully-formed in time for a second-stage bid in November.

The council has previously estimated a like-for-like rebuilding of the structure would cost up to £30m.  So it is likely additional funding would be needed from other sources, depending on the project’s nature and scope.

The city is hosting a national Coastal Communities Conference on June 30 at the Metropole Hotel. at which council leader Warren Morgan is expected to outline the approach and detail £1 billion of seafront investment underway or in the pipeline.

Last December the DCLG awarded the city £50,000 from its Coastal Revival Fund which is currently being used to devise a masterplan for the seafront east of the Palace Pier.

Cllr Morgan said:  “In principle the plan involves transforming the strip into a lively area full of activity and businesses which generates income to sustain the structure into the future.  This will not be a fast process and, in any case, it’s not practical to start any major works along there when we have so many regeneration projects underway on the seafront.  But we will stick diligently with this so that the Terraces get the most comprehensive conservation programme they’ve undergone and are put on a sustainable footing for the first time in history.”

Built in 1897 and around half a mile long, the Grade 2 listed Madeira Terraces is thought to be the longest cast iron structure in the world.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Madeira Terraces - Council press release

The council is currently exploring how to fund a project that would also need to pay for maintaining the Madeira Terraces in good condition into the next century.

As a listed structure any changes would need the consent of English Heritage.  We are planning to report back in the summer on what funding opportunities may be available for Madeira Terraces and how the council is supporting the wider regeneration of the seafront.