Medina House: the sticky height issue shown with this photo!

View south from Victoria Terrace/Neptune Pub area provided by Pam Griffin and Mike Roberts

View south from Victoria Terrace/Neptune Pub area provided by Penny May Griffin and Mike Roberts

21 November, 2016…..To the left of the photo here, foreground, are the Victoria Cottages rooftops and to the right, the Sussex Road rooftops.  It looks impossible in this photo but there is an access footpath running between the back borders of each row of housing, down to Medina House, exiting into Sussex Road.  Medina House is, literally, the width of this narrow footpath away from the boundary wall of the Sussex Road House behind it.  To the extreme left, in the background, is Marrocco and the edge of Benham Court. To the extreme right is the edge of Bath Court, where ground floor flats facing Sussex Road are certainly not going to gain sunlight if a highter than existing, replacement Medina House, is built there.
Medina House sits recessed from Sussex Road but in line with their back gardens – so already creating some overshadowing.  This view from north to south gives the clearest possible sense of how this area might be affected by the proposed nearly 3m height increase of the main building and the build up of building height, incorporating the back wall adjacent Victoria Cottages, partially filling the gap you can see here.

Clearly the developers need to produce a CGI of how THIS view would be altered, using winter sunlight to indicate maximum overshadowing likely to be experienced.

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EE and Hutchison 3G application submitted for a 25m monopole in the Bath Court carpark


7.11.16…..For sometime now a high antennae pole, sited in the area behind the Alibi pub within the former Texaco station site on the Kingsway/St. Aubyns South and adjacent to the Bath Court car park has been a source of comment and annoyance for local residents who never knew it was going to go there.  It just seemed to arrive.  Well, now that there is an application to redevelop the Texaco/Alibi area the pole is inconveniently sited and this application has been submitted for a re-siting of it.
Two Bath Court residents confirm that the Bath Court Board are CONSIDERING the request to put it in the carpark area and a Benham Court resident who has dealt with something like this in London informs that it could bring Bath Court owners a lot of money to agree.  One of the Bath Court residents emails that it is proposed to go in his parking space.  So, another ugly pole is proposed, but even with planning consent it cannot happen unless Bath Court agrees to provide the siting.  Is the carpark in the Cliftonville CA?  I think it might be, actually, whereas the Texaco site is NOT.
Brighton & Hove City Council, in its wisdom, has stopped, and decided to WITHOLD, provision of its traditional list of applications REGISTERED in the previous week.  It is a total nuisance and deliberately inefficient IMHO.  Just one of those death-wish inefficiency things people sign up to from time to time that creates confusion (and extra work for interested parties).  Perhaps they want to use planning applications as click-bait now, to boost the website’s overall hit rate, to show the Government how popular the website is !!!!!!  Why else force punters (including the media) to go back endlessly over weeks and weeks seeking an uploaded registration date and viewable documentation?  Questions to website feedback have been studiously ignored.

Check the planning register in a  week’s time to see if registered.  If informed of the registration date, more info will be added to this post.

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Medina House: A new application submitted: BH2016/05893

7.11.16…..The expected application was logged on the Council website on 31.10.16 with its allocated file identification BH2016/05893 and status ‘invalid’.  It is invalid while being registered – this being about inspecting documents and details as being complete for the purpose of registration.  Only then will neighbour consultation letters go out to that part of the area they deem necessary (which may or may not be ALL those who NEED to be included).  For the record this should include all Sussex Road, Victoria Cottages, Benham and Bath Court residents as bare minimum.  Sadly, it has been council policy not to letter buildings containing more than 15 flats, so we need to watch for Benham and Bath Court who will be very much affected on lower floors.  The two big issues of principle will be height and demolition/replacement of Medina House.
When we know what the documentation includes, please check for its HEIGHT to see if any further lowering, in the wake of summer consultations and the September public exhibiton, has been conceded.  Sunlight, where the shadows fall NOW should be photographed to provide evidence of existing impact from Medina House and again as the winter sunlight falls lower and lower, creating more and more shade in Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages (back areas especially).  I do not expect Victoria Terrace to be impacted by this application.

The Conservation Question

Many of us are quite excited by the proposal we saw over the summer, even love it.  It offers a poetic, ghost of Medina House re-arisen design.  Gone but not gone.  The question of whether it should totally replace the existing building (but keeping and incorporating part of the back wall and tiles and looking like it) remains as a planning issue.  The Gilmours’ team are clear Medina House is not in good enough shape to be kept for conversion.  Does the application demonstrate to proof level that this is so?  The documentation must be scrutinised and probed on  this front, over and above dearest conservation wishes to keep this last bath house standing, with a realistic eye on both the Planning Brief which seeks to retain it, general planning policies, and what the owners want to do.  Does the fact the Esplanade would be spared increased traffic, parking and numbers of residents from a newbuild block of flats there influence your thinking?  This would be a single family dwelling (albeit suitable for conversion, no doubt).  It may WELL influence the planning department’s thinking, given its desperate wish to get as many units of housing built as possible.  Does the replacement proposal offer something special to the Esplanade that is an over-riding consideration?


Overview of replacement Medina House proposal, looking southward

Overview of replacement Medina House proposal, looking southward

8.11.16….Well that was fast!  Seems to have gone live TODAY.  For orientation, please look first at the Planning Statement followed by the Design & Access StatementDesign & Access Pt 2, Design & Access Pt 3.
These two documents tell the application story and provide core details for this proposed five bedroom family home, including why the existing building should be demolished – summarised here:
1.  extensive fire damage throughout the second floor timber floor, with significant section reduction at some locations;
2.  the Dutch gable is leaning outwards by c300 mm, highlighting a disengagement of the gable wall from the lateral stability system;
3.  the facade is in poor condition with several cracks, some severe, and bricks exposed. In some places, the mortar joint has disintegrated and the bricks are free to move;
4.  the brick arches to the eastern elevation have suffered from movement and are currently infilled with blockwork to support them;
5.  several structural elements of the second floor timber deck and the roof frame have been cut and/or removed. The bearing timber boarding, for example, has been removed and currently the floor is only supported by thin ceiling joists which are not suitable for residential loads. One central vertical brace of the central roof truss has been cut out;
6.  the second floor joists are not supported on the masonry walls but on a light timber stud lining frame which is unlikely to be capable of taking floor live loads;
7.  the first floor steel joists appear to be suffering from substantial corrosion leading to spalling of the clay block and the wide cracks in the deck soffit;
8.  water penetration in many locations throughout the building are causing humidity tracks and moisture ingress;
9.  many of the concrete elements are in poor condition, especially at the ground slab, which was formerly the swimming pool and was subsequently exposed to the elements;
10.  the timber staircase is not protected against fire; and the services are beyond repair
Please note the list of neighbour consultees, as shown online today, is a disgrace, not acknowledging Victoria Cottages or Sussex Road residents except for the two addresses directly adjacent to the north elevation of Medina House – and one of these, 3 Victoria Cottages, was bought by Taghan and is part of the overall site acquisition.  Medina House and the courtyard area (2 plots) were BOTH individually lettered.  So three neighbour consultation letters to the actual applicant/development addresses and none to the residents who stand to be impacted.  A saveHOVE comment about this has been submitted with a request that Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages residents be lettered and given neighbour consulation numbers.  Most of Bath Court seems to have been lettered, and that’s it, along with Marrocco.
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1-3 Ellen Street BH2016/02663 – official consultees object, compromised amenity societies support!

29.10.16…..A SERIOUSLY polarised picture is emerging as between the positions taken by the Regency Society, The Hove Civic Society, with the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum and the many internal, Brighton & Hove City Council  consultee responses.  The extent to which developers and architects have infiltrated or influenced amenity societies and groups to try to steer outcomes their way has never been shown more clearly.  It is ruthless, in ruthless times, as income and profit are sought by them.  That is not what amenity societies should be about.  And for the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum to be getting in bed with developers might come as news to most of its membership (who signed up to creation of a Neighbourhood Plan to eventually put beneath and influence the City Plan).
These days public and official consultation responses are being parked online behind application documents which makes it possible for easy viewing of them, instead of having to ask to view the officer Case File to follow an application’s progress.  This is, however, deterring people from having their say.  Indeed even the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum’s 15 pages of rambling praise and support for this massive overdevelopment FAILS to carry any form of address on it – not so much as an email address.  Some people are using name and post code or just name, neighbour consultee letter number (if they got a letter), and/or email address.  It is all being accepted by the council.  But back to the issue that needs attention!
Here is a clip from the end of the BHCC Policy consultation response:
capture-1-3-ellen-st-policy-response-clipThis is a shocking rebuke!!!!!  But it is also just one example too of expert condemnation of the application, over and above the felt need to chastise the HSNF.  Go to the Planning Register and input address/planning ID number and read what Arboriculture has to say, what Housing has to say.  Actually, look at THIS from what Housing has to say:  there is no affordable identified, no wheelchair accessible identified.  And space standards are homed in on.  Some 25% of the 188 flats do not meet nationally described space standards!
capture-1-3-ellenst-housing-response-clipThere is more, much more.  Have a look.  Do note, however, that should this application be withdrawn, all the online documentation will also be withdrawn and become inaccessible.  But these bits are copied and saved here!  To shame them.
David Robson (an architect) has provided the Regency Society response, recommending approval of his friend Nick Lomax’s design for this scheme.  Nick is of course merely designing to a stupid brief for an overdevelopment from MATSIM.  The client dictates.  But what is Robson thinking? Why does the Regency Society not worry about all the things that the officer consultees do?  About unliveably small spaces?  Negative impacts?  Is it because the building trades and developers have too much influence there now?
And what about the Hove Civic Society support for the scheme?  Its Chair is also on the HSNF Committee – no conflict of interest there?  Do the members of any of the societies know what is being said and done in their names?  Or do they just belong to them for the social life provided?  Sadly for city planning, these two registered charities (Regency Society and Hove Civic) enjoy still trade on past glory and receive consideration by the Planning Department.  Hard to believe BOTH societies were established to protect threatened townscape.
Is undersized provision of parking spaces for humans Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum policy?  NO, NO, NO!! It  is outrageous for HSNF to put its name to an application with 25% undersized flats!
How is it possible that the Conservation Advisory Group puts in a response saying it is divided in opinion on this application?  This also happened years ago when a Regency Society Committee member put in a letter of support on their official behalf for glass penthouses on top of the Old Market.  She was rumbled (by me) and the Society WITHDREW that support.  But a right old rumpus ensued, ending with an appalling paragraph in the report to committee saying the Regency Society were divided and would not be giving an opinion.  On the Listed Regency Old Market.  Appalling.  The reason it is happening is because those in unquestioning favour of driving development or just promoting their own interests are proactively seeking and gaining a voice in amenity groups and societies.  Of the big three traditional groups, the Brighton Society alone provides a strong impartial voice, as do the smaller societies and local residents groups (and saveHOVE!).
This application and the consultation responses viewable online right now show just how severe the compromising of such groups has become.  The council is predisposed to wanting and seeking applications that provide new housing in the huge numbers that Planning Inspectors demand are provided in Brighton & Hove.  It is therefore very important to note the depth of antipathy to this application from the internal council consultees and to lament and question the mischief that is destroying the credibility of both the Hove Civic Society and the Regency Society along with the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum who all need to cool their excitement for development and become impartial.  Which they are not.
As for MATSIM!  In 2012 they were outrageously overambitious and greedy and got slapped down so they never even put in their application.  No lessons learned because they are back with this one.  A VERY greedy application which according to the Housing consultee response is in the hands of the District Valuer now for assessment of their claim that they cannot afford to include affordable housing (of the 188 flats, just 10 rentals and 9 shared ownerships are now grudgingly suggested, but not identifying which of the undersized or appropriately sized they would give).  Be clear.  MATSIM own the shed part of the city block which could not have cost them very much, frankly.  So…..

NB:  The first post on this up to 17 storeys block of 188 flats, offices and retail application (with guideline site photos and some updating to it a couple of times) can be accessed by clicking on this link

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Medina House….the case for demolition reviewed

18.10.16…..By now I think many of us were expecting to see a newly submitted and registered application for Medina House, out for public consultation.  The public exhibition on 17th September has been and gone and perhaps before writing this, I should have made an enquiry….but I did this instead.
The Planning Register contains details of previously registered applications (those which were not withdrawn), the documentation and decision notices.  Without the planning application ID numbers it can be tricky to get to everything.  Put in Medina House, put in MEDINA HOUSE, put in Kings Esplanade, put in 9 Kings Esplanade and differing info comes up in spite of the Planning area IT having been overhauled recently.
For the record, the last (most recent) application was BH2014/03898.  Its delegated decision notice providing REFUSAL is dated 4 March 2015. So why am I looking at this stuff now…..   There are specific issues which the new owners/applicants will seek to address in order to achieve a planning consent.  They will be looking at Decision Notices, at previous reasons for refusal and addressing them.
Height is an issue for residents behind Medina House, which needs to be as existing.  Underdevelopment as a single family dwelling MAY exercise BHCC who are desperately seeking increased units of housing.  Building Condition and structural integrity are a further serious sticking point for the developer because of its status in planning policy documentation.   Just how open to professional interpretations and opinions the keep/demolish issue is must be tested by any new application.  When the new application appears, consultees will need to look at their structural survey which will almost certainly be there to justify demolition.  In our meetings with the current architects, there has been criticism of Taghan’s structural reports.  When the time comes, you may wish to ‘compare and contrast’ – because proof Medina House is “beyond economic repair” has to be proved.
Here are a few links for you:
1.    The 2014 application initially submitted a 2012 10-page letter from Powell Williams Building Consultancy, uploaded 19 November 2014 – labelled  ‘structural survey’ on the council website, but called ‘initial findings’ by Powell Williams.  They concluded it was “technically feasible” to convert the building to “3 flats”.  The March 2012structural inspection report‘  from Design Consultancy Civil and Structural Engineers Ltd  was also uploaded 19 November 2014
2.     In February of 2015, further documentation was added, no doubt in an attempt to prevent a refusal.  A  Stiles Harold Wilson Building Condition Surveycarrying a January 2015 date, was prepared by a Building Surveyor and uploaded 9 February 2015  and VERY misleadingly labelled on the council’s planning register list of documents as a  Structural Survey.   Four of the five appendices were uploaded behind it.  The one not uploaded was (c) Feasibility – so basically, all this last-minute additional material addressed cost.   (a) Asbestos Remediation quote   (b) A 2013  Viability Assessment   (d)  The 2012 (again) Powell Williams Building Consultancy 10 page letter    (e)  The March 2012 (again) Design Consultancy 2012 Structural report
3.     And the application was  refused a month later, the case not having been made for demolition.    Decision Notice for BH2014/03898
So what has changed, 18 months on?  What is the difference between a ‘Structural Inspection Report’, a ‘Building Condition Survey’ and a ‘Structural Survey’ – more than just fiddling with semantics I hope.
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