Jim Gowans’ West Hill Watch . . .
Despite widespread local opposition which included some 470 formal objections and a petition with over 3500 signatures a majority of councillors on the Planning Committee voted to approve a scheme to construct three tower blocks which will overshadow Preston Park. The Council’s own Heritage Team, the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group and the Council’s Tree Officer, together with the Sussex Gardens Trust, had all objected. The latter is quoted as saying, “The development . . . will bear down upon the formal gardens and impose upon the wider historic park landscape in an intrusive fashion so as to cause significant harm to the setting of this grade II listed heritage asset.” There was also criticism of the developer’s failure to offer the affordable housing required by the City Plan but nine of the twelve councillors did not consider this a reason to refuse construction of the blocks which will range in height from thirteen to fifteen storeys and will feature “high specification apartments that are spacious and bright”.
66 Buckingham Road
A more modest application, meanwhile, has been submitted nearer to home which seeks (literally) to raise the roof of a house which was probably built before 1850 as a wholly residential property or as a pub and whose ground floor was, it seems, converted to a shop in the last century. The current proposal is to replace the existing single pitch roof with a Mansard roof (ie with a double slope at the front). This would incorporate a dormer window to the front and to the rear. The Conservation Advisory Group has recommended refusal because it considers the Mansard roof inappropriate, as this style is not a feature associated with buildings in this conservation area. It also felt that the building should be retained at its existing height, but that if an increase were allowed, it should include a parapet as now. Previous applications to raise the roofline were refused in 2003 and 2004.
Vacant Plots of Land in our City
Despite the pressure to build homes in Brighton & Hove, landowners continue to leave land undeveloped and derelict. In some cases, such as the land at the corner of Church Street and Portland Street (27-31 Church Street), derelict for over twenty years, planning permission has been granted but not implemented, in this case for 9no. dwellings and other mixed uses; whilst the Anston House site, referred to above, has been derelict for almost thirty years! Another significant site near to our conservation area is the disused former Baptist Church on the corner of Montpelier Place and Norfolk Terrace. The church closed in 2013 and, four years on, the 15,000 sq.ft. site is still undeveloped and looking increasingly neglected. In 2014 the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) produced a report which estimated that almost one million homes could be built on the existing brownfield sites in England alone. Meanwhile, as we are acutely aware in this part of Sussex, evermore greenfield sites are being built on or earmarked for development.