Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Lego® Wind Turbine comes to Brighton

This November, the LEGO® Wind Turbine moves to its new home at Park Square, Brighton Marina, in celebration of LEGO reaching its target of 100% renewable energy capacity a 3 years early.

In May, LEGO was awarded a Guinness World Record for creating the world’s largest wind turbine made from LEGO bricks and now you too can visit the impressive 7.5m model in Brighton Marina from Saturday 4th November and throughout the coming months.

A team of LEGO experts from Czech Republic, Hungary, France, and UK spent around 600 hours building the LEGO brick turbine, using 146,000 LEGO bricks.

Stanmer Park restoration plans

Friday, 27 October 2017

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Royal Pavilion Gardens

It comes as no surprise that the grade II listed Royal Pavilion Gardens have been put on the Heritage at Risk Register. It has been evident for several years that the Gardens are losing the battle with the sheer weight of people using them, and the seemingly growing antisocial night-time behaviour. 

Being on the register means that the specific issues facing the gardens can be openly identified and provides the opportunity for working with Historic England and others to find solutions, such as through a Conservation Management Plan. It also means that there are greater opportunities for access to funding for restoration and improvement schemes, particularly from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Large areas of grass alongside paths never recover

Low attractive fencing used effectively in some place

Some problems are easy to identify and the only alternative to ever- widening paths would seem to be the installation of fencing. This already seems to be effective in some parts of the Gardens. The fencing need not be purposed to prevent access to grassed areas but simply to discourage casual straying from the paths.


Overflowing bins
To cope with night-time anti-social behaviour the only option would seem to be making the perimeter secure and preventing entrance at night between times to be decided. Luckily the gardens are fairly well enclosed already and the amount of boundary fencing needed would not be prohibitive. Clearing the gardens at closing time would require an ongoing expenditure.

The council has appointed Blackboys-based landscape specialists Chris Blandford Associates to prepare a Conservation Plan and 10 year Management Plan for the garden. But there is no need to wait for their report before doing what is obvious.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Shelter Hall progress

The site today.

In total 135 piles almost a metre thick have now been sunk up to 20 metres into the ground. During the task, contractors shipped in 750 cubic metres of concrete in hundreds of cement lorries. The next phase will involve a similar quantity of concrete to create a solid slab half a metre thick on which to build the new Shelter Hall.

Piling in progress
A lorry compound on the upper prom and second diversion to the cycle lane are expected to be in place until June 2018.

Access to the beach and all businesses on the lower prom remains the same.  A temporary pedestrian crossing in front of the Brighton Centre will also stay.

Once groundworks are complete, a reinforced concrete frame will be created. External finishes will mean the new building looking similar to the Victorian structure it replaces.

The new building is expected to open in Spring 2019.

Mister Adam in Rottingdean

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A new Valley Gardens park

Work continues behind the scenes on plans to improve the environment and transport links through the central valley leading to Brighton seafront and city centre.

The Valley Gardens project aims to reduce the impact of traffic between St Peter’s Church and the Royal Pavilion, to better link the green spaces to the city centre.

Features include an improved network of paths for cyclists and pedestrians. General traffic will be placed on the east side of the valley, going in both directions. On the west side will be a quieter route, just carrying buses, taxis and other local traffic headed for the North Laine area.

Most of the £10m cost is being paid for with government money coming via the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The money can only be spent on Valley Gardens.

A planning application covering re-landscaping the area is hoped will go to planning committee in November. Subject to approval, work is expected to start next spring.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The William IV pub renovation


The William IV pub on the corner of Bond & Church Streets has no doubt gone through many transformations in its 170year+ history. The latest this year by the pub group Indigo has revealed the original cobble walls and retained the United Ales green tiling. It has also regained a hanging sign,

But the painted signage looks cheap & nasty compared with the previous raised gilt lettering. I hope they've kept the letters for when the fashion cycle turns back again.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Pavilion ice-rink for another 6 years

Ice skating on the Royal Pavilion east lawn has been given planning permission for the next six winters.  This year the rink organisers’ website says the attraction will be open from November 4 to January 14.

As well as the main rink, roughly 40m by 20m, permission also allows a beginners’ rink, restaurant, cafe, toilets, skate hire and associated plant and lighting.

This will be the eighth successive year the rink has been staged outside the Grade 1-listed Royal Pavilion.

Opening hours for skating allowed are 10am to 10.15pm. Up to 315 people are allowed on the rink at any one time. The café can be open from 10am to half past midnight.

Information about the rink’s operation, tickets and more is available at its website.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A pedestrianised North Street?

The temporary pedestrianisation of North Street for resurfacing has demonstrated what a difference the absence of buses makes. The air is noticeably cleaner and the general environment quieter, calmer and more relaxing. People seem less rushed and have more space to just saunter if they feel like it.

Meanwhile, along the King's Road diversion the buses are less blocked in than in North Street, there are sea breezes to disperse the fumes and plenty of space on the upper & lower promenades for pedestrians to put a distance between themselves and the traffic.

If North Street were to be permanently pedestrianised the needs of less mobile people could be met with small electric shuttle buses running between the Old Steine and the Clock Tower with perhaps a couple of intermediate stops.

If such a scheme were considered too far-reaching a useful halfway house would be to make North Street one-way west to east. Traffic emits less pollution when travelling downhill and buses would have more space to pull away at bus stops and so minimise waiting and engine idling times.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Royal Pavilion & Museums - a bumper summer

Between April and September the Royal Pavilion received more than 220,000 visits, up by 6% and on target to reach an estimated 325,000 this year.

The Royal Pavilion is a good general barometer of the local tourist economy and this year has seen a notable increase in the proportion of foreign visitors - 43% compared with 37% in 2016/17.

Visits to Brighton Museum also increased by 13,000, despite entry charges for non-residents. Between April and September there were 61,000 visits to the museum – a massive 27% increase on last year.

The increases are partly due to the weak pound attracting overseas visitors and some popular exhibitions, such as Jane Austen By The Sea at the Royal Pavilion  and Constable at Brighton Museum.

Preston Manor visits were 2,600 above target, with 11,768 through the doors of Brighton’s Edwardian mansion between April and September. Two-thirds of visits to Preston Manor are school groups and almost all the autumn sessions are fully booked.

Monday, 2 October 2017

West Blatchington windmill restoration wins award.

Watercolour by John Constable

The Grade II* listed West Blatchington windmill has been awarded the 2017 Public & Community Award from the Sussex Heritage Trust.

The  announcement  follows a £100k restoration  -  a joint project by Brighton & Hove City Council’s Property & Design Team,  Fowler Building Contractors,  Baqus Construction Consultancy Ltd and  CTP Engineers, in consultation with The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill which contributed half of the funding.

The award, a commemorative plaque, was attached to the Grade II* listed structure, at a special ceremony last week.

The judges commented: “The Mill is a fantastic heritage asset, a museum both of its own history and of windmills in general. The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill are to be commended for their effort, energy and enthusiasm in its preservation, without which it would almost certainly have been lost.

The 74- week long restoration project, led by the council’s Property and Design team, saw specialist contractors carrying out structural repairs to the fan tail and gearing mechanism, reefing stage decking and supports. 
Weatherboarding  and flint walling were also repaired and the mill and barn repainted in a traditional colour to replicate the original tarring. Existing materials were reused where possible and work was careful programmed to minimise disruption and ensure safe access for the general public attending classes in the attached barn.

West Blatchington Mill, which was beautifully illustrated by John Constable in a watercolour 1825, is open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holiday afternoons from May to September. School parties and other groups are shown round at other times by appointment.