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17 storeys of unsuitable proposed for Ellen St by Hove Station

22.8.16…..The formal deadline for responses to this application is just a few days away (26th) but it is unlikely to be decided for a long while after that so DO look at the Planning Statement and the Design & Access Statement first to get to grips with what is offered.
Clip of Planning Register entry

A Clip of Planning Register entry

An awful lot of activity is proposed for this site.  Can Hove Station handle another 200 or so commuters each morning – the flats are aimed squarely at incomers needing easy commuter access.  What about schools and other infrastructure.  What is available locally that they could plug into?
Consultee responses are now posted online with application documents.  There are already a couple of notable ones.  A huge sum is recommended be demanded towards education for that part of the Section 106 obligation.  And the comment from Environmental Health gives this application a stinging thumbs down.  You have to read it.  She recommends Refusal.
Perhaps the biggest issue for existing residents is access from the surrounding streets.  Vehicle access is ONLY from Fonthill Road to the north or from Ethel Street or between Conway Court and Clarendon House along Clarendon Road to the south.  When the 1960’s demolitions occurred, many little linking streets were abolished to make way for the five 10-storey blocks and commercial sheds behind them.  It thoughtlessly and effectively made of the semi-industrial area something of an island site.  This is a major problem for redevelopment again now.  Look carefully at the Transport Statement.  Read the Transport Statement 1 and Transport Statement 2 for claims and have your say!
What is proposed would replace just the single shed area (containing 3 tenants) in front of the bus station and beside its bus park by the Agora – not a big space at all.  But note from this photo the impact on Ethel Street businesses and Goldstone Villas housing that a tall building would have.  This sunlight would become deep shade.  To the north there is just the station and bus depot to lose sunlight, but Clifton Court just to the top of the photo, opposite the pub, could also be affected.  Certainly, all these buildings you see here would be dwarfed.  Read the daylight assessment claims.  Do you agree?  Can you prove otherwise?
Ellen Street shed looking towards backs of Goldstone Villas buildings

Ellen Street shed looking towards backs of Goldstone Villas buildings

Residents of Goldstone House could expect to see some light loss to the bedrooms facing north.  Residents of Livingstone House will see some light loss to kitchens, located on the north side, facing north, especially during summer evenings as the sun sets. The scale of how huge this is can be seen in this section drawing looking east from Fonthill Road.  Bus Station to the left and a terraced house in Clarendon Road to the right.
Elevation drawing from the application documents showing from Conway bus garage over to Clarendon terrace house

Elevation drawing from the application documents showing from Conway bus garage over to Clarendon terrace house

So.  199 flats, offices, a little retail.  It’s an awful lot for this tiny site, but the incentive for the council to agree comes from the City Plan Pt 1 which forces this area (up to Old Shoreham Road) to allow hundreds of dwellings to be put there (by order of Planning Inspectors).  Tall building guidance advises mixed use for tall buildings that puts commercial activity at ground level, with housing above.  The small amount of retail is sited on the Ethel Street frontage facing the trees you can see in the photo.  Hidden away.
The design is like a series of angular silos all mooshed up together to make a huge mass look more broken up, more ‘organically’ like a normal townscape where things get built over long periods of time.

Ellen St Hove Station BH2016_02663 CGI view west from Ethel St Ellen St Hove Station BH2016_02663 lightwell amenity space

The space in the middle of the development is little more than a light well, given the heights around it.  As a retired planner emailing saveHOVE  says, “It is hard to imagine anything growing down in that hole”.  It would be in total shade at all times.  Amenity for residents would not be good.  How wide is it?  Can’t be more than 5 metres by about 15 – not a lot of outdoor space for 199 flats.  Look in the documents for the actual size.
A scaled down version of this development might be acceptable but this is surely still a greedy overdevelopment from MATSIM.  Their 2012 plans for a wider area were deemed so unacceptable by planners during pre-planning advice meetings that NO application ever appeared.  Once again, they are using Nick Lomax from Lomax, Cassidy, Edwards as their architect.
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Texaco/Alibi application BH2016/02756 – Consultation Response issues

Time to get to grips with the Texaco/Alibi Planning Application !
Architect's context drawing of proposal looking east along Kingsway

Architect’s context drawing of proposal looking east along Kingsway

21.8.16….Some months after the exhibition at the Princes Marine Hotel, comes the inevitable planning application with the same disappointingly harsh, angular, tall-building design (a few changes) – it’s clone-town glass and brick stuff you have seen everywhere from ads for Chelsea Basin flats to pretty much everywhere else, including, alas, now ALSO for the new Hove Station area planning application (1-3 Ellen Street, BH2016/02663) which seeks redevelopment of the semi-industrial shed site fronting Ellen, Conway, Ethel Streets just behind Goldstone Villas.  We need to demand better from architects.  Nick Lomax from Lomax, Cassidy, Edwards has designed both schemes.

Scheme Content

The Lomax design for Rocco Homes proposes  59 flats and a Co-op convenience store for the Alibi pub at 22 Victoria Terrace and adjoining former Texaco Petrol Station on Kingsway.   It swamps the eye with its composition of sharply angled and merged silos of varying heights.  Harsh. Hard.  This newbuild people-container would provide 55 flats. The converted upper floors of the Alibi provide another 4 flats, giving a total of 105 bedrooms. All the flats are proposed to be market – no social rented or part buy/part rent.  The ground floor of the Alibi remains  commercial with the ground floor of the tower housing the Co-op.
There is a potential problem for the ground floor use of the Alibi if it remains as a pub or café.  At night people outside smoking, etc. will be a noise issue for residents in the flats directly overlooking the area between them.  The residents would have noise abatement rights which could impact on the Alibi.
Texaco_Alibi proposed sq Fig 7 Planning Statement

Fig. 7 in the Planning Statement

The Co-op convenience store is proposed to open seven days a week, from 7am-11pm.  Deliveries to it are proposed to be from the Kingsway frontage.  How will all this impact A259 traffic flow?  A build-out full of bike racks is visible in one drawing that would squeeze the two lanes down to one at this point.  Surely not wise.
Parking?  Read the Transport Statement (link below).  BHCC advice to lose the car lift and reduce provision has led to offering just 17 carpark spaces – 8 between the Alibi and the Coop for customers (of both?) and 9 for residents adjacent to the Bath Court/St. Aubyns Mansions carpark.  A whopping 76 cycle spaces are offered – 34 at ground level and 42 in the basement.  You HAVE to read the Transport Statement, look at their figures and claims of plenty of capacity to understand this and to think how you can demonstrate it is wrong.  For starters, do you have to park north of Kingsway due to lack of spaces outside your own Esplanade colony home?  TELL THE COUNCIL IN YOUR OBJECTION.  PROVIDE STREET PARKING PHOTOS RELEVANT TO YOURSELF.
Fig. 4 from the Planning Statement showing panoramic view round St. Aubyns western corner to St. Aubyns Gardens

Fig. 4 from the Planning Statement showing panoramic view round St. Aubyns western corner to St. Aubyns Gardens – dead opposite the Texaco site

The towers proposed are so out of place opposite the Listed St. Aubyns corner, St. Aubyns Gardens and locally listed Alibi Pub (originally hotel) which together brought lyrical rounded mid-Victorian era grandeur to that part of Hove and horizontality of line.  The corner treatment shrieks vertically from behind its generic, off-the-peg – template – style references in stark contrast with the quietly purring Kingsway grandeur around Victoria Terrace and the entrance to St. Aubyns dead opposite.  All entreaties at the exhibition to put in some curves have been studiously ignored.
Much is made of the Alibi Pub within the application paperwork.  It is a key reference point, written about reverently and given respect and acknowledgment…..verbally.  But not by providing a neighbourly scheme to put beside it that respects the two Conservation Areas involved:  Old Hove north of the Kingsway and Cliftonville from the Alibi westwards.  The Alibi is inside the Cliftonville CA whilst the Texaco site is not in any CA.

Serious Application Registration issues

The application should have been registered as ‘Cliftonville CA (the locally listed heritage asset, the Alibi, in within it), adjacent Cliftonville , adjoining Old Hove ’ in recognition of relationship to TWO Conservation area involvements and not just Old Hove. This may change as an email has brought this to the attention of the planning officer for the application, Kate Brocklebank (who also assisted the applicants with considerable pre-planning advice), copied to Development Control Manager, Jeanette Walsh.  Does it need to be re-registered?  The applicants documents recognise it clearly, but council officers registering the application did not.
Clip from BHCC Cliftonville Conservation Area Map

Clip from BHCC Cliftonville Conservation Area Map

Neighbour Consultation letters from BHCC went to St. Aubyns, Seafield Road, Medina Villas, Osborne Villas ACROSS the 4-lane Kingsway but BHCC failed to send ANY to the nearby Sussex Road, Victoria cottages area that will be visually swamped by the looming towers with consequent light loss to the backs of Victoria Terrace, 1-4 Sussex Road and rear Bath Court flats.  None went to Bath Court residents whose car park would also be at some risk of being colonised by desperate new residents and Alibi/Co-op customers seeking parking and who will have party wall issues to deal with in view of the fact the development goes right up to their boundary and garage walls.  All they got was a site notice.  The ward councillors should intervene. 
The council is not understanding that the residential area south of the Kingsway is a kind of island site below that dangerous-for-pedestrians, windswept, 4 lanes of A259 that is the Kingsway.  An intimately-scaled colony, like a village, even with its Esplanade Bath, Benham and Spa towers.  Flag Court is the other side of the Courtneys so it is really the bit between St. Aubyns South and Medina Terrace with Victoria Terrace edging it along the Kingsway that makes up this cosy ‘island’ enclave. 

What you are really up against now

The planning application form and Transport  Statement provide dates of pre-app visits with the planning officer and evidence of highways department advice.  The Heritage Statement further indicates consultation with member of the planning committee and Design South East to solicit feedback ahead of finalising their application.  Residents need to be aware that changes were made in the wake of all this and an opinion from the Design Panel which they hope stitches in place everything needed to get consent.  This means objectors have to have a VERY good set of reasons for objecting to get this refused, assuming that all advice provided by officers was taken.  And evidence.

Objectors are also up against the City Plan, Pt 1 and its imposed high target for achieving new units of housing in the city (at the insistence of Planning Inspectors).  The fact it is market housing without one single unit of social rented housing or intermediate (shared ownership) is not helpful to the city and perhaps the deal is they pay a huge sum in compensation through a s106 obligation.  Or not.  Does BHCC plan to purchase any units off-plan?  For Council Housing use?  It is a cheap way of increasing stock, though if they DO take units, they would likely go to its leasehold Seaside Homes portfolio (or be bought by Seaside?).

Tasks for Objectors

The Planning Statement is absolutely Required Reading as a starting point to get to grips with what the claims are, what the planning constraints are and where resident wriggle room is for getting this application substantially modified or refused.
After the Planning Statement, it is the Design & Access Statement that MUST be gone through – full of useful illustrations too I might add.
The Transport Statement should be waded through by Esplanade residents and countering evidence provided to discredit its various claims. I would dispute the fact that its analysis of capacity and parking locally using street parking from BOTH sides of the Kingsway is valid.  Esplanade residents are so lacking in adequate parking provision NOW that some are forced to park north of the 4-lane Kingsway.  Residents who do not have Spa Court/Benham Court, Bath Court/St Aubyns Mansions carpark use do NOT have enough parking outside their own homes because there isn’t enough.  Did the Transport Statement take account of Marrocco diners’ use of parking spaces?  It is wrong to say that parking availability up St. Aubyns, up Medina Villas, up Seafield or Osborne  makes it OK to add up to 50 flats’s worth of competitive new parking demand on the area south of Kingsway.  Look at the police accident record provided too.
Residents of Sussex Road, Victoria Terrace are affected by sunlight and overshadowing issues and should look very carefully at the Daylight and Sunlight Study which was not written for your benefit!  Your photos from inside your window areas should go with your consultation response letters to demonstrate your likely loss.
Pre-planning advice from BHCC was to cut parking provision and to ditch the lift access basement parking due to potential street queuing issues (see that highways opinion reproduced in the Transport Statement).  A positive is advice to provide a car club parking bay on the street that would allow all residents the option to use that service instead of owning a car of their own.  This is an increasingly practical and welcomed option for people who do not do a lot of driving but cannot give it up.
Then look at anything else if need be or wanting to tackle in more depth.  Do the CGI images lie?  They usually do.
Do not rush to put your application response in.  This is your sole opportunity to influence and get changes.  Make sure of your facts and use planning.applications@brighton-hove.gov.uk to email your response, including photos taken to demonstrate parking issues, to demonstrate light and sunlight loss to rooms, to demonstrate overshadowing, overlooking, and to show the ways in which looming overdevelopment on the Texaco site will negatively impact or swamp homes nearby.  The formal time for responding ends 30th August.   But keep sending in new material to add to existing consultation emails/letters.  No decision or referral to the Planning Committee will occur until maybe October – the estimated decision date given online.  Ensure the subject line of your email gives the planning number, address,  and whether you Object/support.  Put Kate Brocklebank, the planning officer, in the cc field for insurance!
Finally.  How much development CAN that site take in your view?  Suggest.  How much of a problem is the tidal ground flooding that developers should be more careful of in constructing basement areas.  GIVE your local knowledge!
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Texaco site adjacent to King Alfred: A planning application has been submitted

28.7.16…..It’s all go down the Esplanade, now…innit.  At the same time as plans for redevelopment of the Medina House site have surfaced, so the Texaco site has now moved along since the public exhibition that so dismayed folk to now become a submitted, but as yet unregistered, planning application.  Lou Stack spotted it online.  But, there is nothing to look at or comment on until it is registered and neighbour consultation letters are sent out.  Just be aware of it and keep an eye out.  We will have to note carefully who is and is not included by BHCC in the neighbour lettering.

FATAL FLAW ALERT

I would expect ALL of St. Aubyns Mansions, most of Bath Court, King Alfred tenants, Esplanade residents and Medina Terrace residents to receive neighbour consultation letters from BHCC.  And for a serious reason.
At the exhibition of the plans, architect Nick Lomax was asked about just how the proposed Co-op retail unit would be supplied.  Where would their delivery point be.  It seemed obvious that it should be in the driveway between the Alibi Pub and the Co-op, but apparently “they don’t want that”.  Consult and ignore is the norm so the worry is that the plan then is the plan NOW.  A ten-ton truck accessing via Medina Terrace, Kings Esplanade and parking in St. Aubyns South.  That is a major no-no.  A huge issue if they try to pursue it.  But, hey, maybe they listened at the exhibition and the application will surprise us with a sensible solution.
Here are the details from the online planning register.  It has been given a planning number which you can use to find it:  BH2016/02756
 Address
The former Texaco garage site, Kingsway
Hove, Brighton & Hove
BN3 2WB
Description:
Proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the former Texaco garage and shop to provide 55 No. residential apartments and 375 sq.m of retail floorspace (A1 Use Class) in a new building of between 2 and 9 storeys together with associated parking and landscaping; flexible use of the ground floor of the former Alibi Public House (A1, A4 Use Classes) and conversion of the first, second and third floors to provide 4 No dwellings.

The Alibi Pub (former Hotel)

Please note that the area including King Alfred, the former Texaco Station and St. Aubyns Mansions and Bath Court is EXCLUDED from Conservation Area Status.  Please also note that the Cliftonville CA begins with and includes the Alibi Pub, moving east and north up to Holy Trinity Church in Blatchington Road.  This gives the application a problem.  A single site is created by the application, part of which is in a Conservation Area. In addition, the Alibi Pub, its drive and derelict Coach House to the rear have added Conservation protectionWhilst not Listed Buildings, they ARE on the Local List of Heritage Assets (and this link takes you to its dedicated page).   This is a serious consideration for the application as the proposal will demolish the derelict Coach House (erasing that bit of local history) and there is no guarantee of the Alibi Pub retaining much of its existing identity otherwise.
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Medina House: new plans to demolish have surfaced

25.7.16…..Quite some months ago now, when Medina House was bought by Polly Samson, wife of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, it was said that the couple wanted to turn Medina House into a dwelling for themselves, to eventually live in.  They have other homes in other places and their home in Medina Terrace is mostly for term time use (neighbours believe).
And so we waited and hoped for something nice to happen to Medina House.  They did a good job on the Listed Medina Terrace house and on restoring Ida Verner’s old painting studio, making it into a music studio, so hopes were high. Some years back, it was said that Polly thought it should be turned into a spa.  We liked that idea, did many of us.
Hopes are now dashed.
Plans designed by Pilbrow & Partners,  based in London, are being shown around for a newbuild L-shaped house and courtyard garden on the site, with Medina House  a style reference only.  Demolished.  The newbuild is white brick and higher than Medina House.   The plans will be shown to the Conservation Advisory Group’s Tuesday meeting next week. The Brighton Society’s  Jeremy Mustoe has already seen them and felt disappointed.  Like many of us, he sees disappearing local history and not a development to be welcomed although the firm have done good work in London that he is aware of.
The planning application will not be far behind.
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Brighton & Hove City Council Conservation Strategy

15.6.2016…..A Conservation Strategy first agreed in 2003 was given an overhaul and reviewed in the wake of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework change to the planning system.  The reviewed Conservation Strategy was agreed at Economic Development and Culture on 15th January, 2015.
The Agenda introduction paper can be accessed HERE
The actual updated 26 page Conservation Strategy can be accessed HERE
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