Political activity and saveHOVE

saveHOVE is unaligned and distanced from party politics, whatever the beliefs and affiliations of its supporters and associates.  It is traditional for politicians to seek brownie points from involvement with civic/amenity groups and their activities (which they can hoist up to billboard view along the election path to the ballot box and display among their ‘vote-for-me’ bona fides).  But, even when support is genuine, it is important these two spheres of activity remain clearly distinct and separate.  We must all keep this in mind as we head now towards both a General and Local Elections in May 2015.
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Holy Trinity Church, Hove….let’s have a look at what it’s about

Holy Trinity Blatchington Road 016When built in 1863 Holy Trinity Church stood in a field.  A low boundary wall went up around it in 1866 – presumably needed because of the development going on that would soon see it surrounded.  The wall was increased in height a few years later to deter litterbugs chucking rubbish into the grounds. The roofscape at the eastern end is amazing.  Quite mad.
Holy Trinity Blatchington Road The wild, hidden, east elevations 006
As with the Reform church across the road from it, the Roman Catholic one down Ventnor Villas and the C of E All Saints in The Drive, there are no burial grounds.  These are urban churches.  Churches built to service expanding urbanisation of the area and population increases at a time when Churches and Christianity were at the centre of civic life and communities.  indeed Holy Trinity was built because All Saints was overcrowded and an overflow church was needed to take the expanding congregation’s new people.
It would be interesting to know quite where everyone was meant to go after death (apart from the then capacious St. Andrews cemetery which stretched up through the entire area now colonised by Tesco’s car park St. Andrews Church primary school).  How I wish I could see photos of how that graveyard looked. Who was in there?  All dug up of course, bones dumped elsewhere and gravestones broken up for doorsteps I have heard.  Only the graves ssurrounding the church  itself survive.
Walking around the lawned grounds of Holy Trinity Church, looking at the boarded up scout hut, the external pulpit donated by “a soldier and his wife” in 1912, the church hall added in 1957, you can still get a sense of the England now superceded by globalisation, multiculturalism, and our rushing, stressed and generally Godless way of life.  A taxi rank fills one border area, bus stops another and the terraced housing of Denmark Villas entirely blocks viewing of the multiple peaks and decorative walling of the eastern elevation.  Neverthless, within these grounds is a precious oasis of quietude and in spite of the squalor accruing from street drinkers and squattings since the church was closed in 2008, there is still a sense of peace in there.  It is a Godly peace and it should never be lost.
The Coptic Christian Church of Hove has an expanding congregation, just as All Saints had back in the 1860 period.  And just like All Saints it needs a second overflow Church to expand into.  Indeed  All Saints is booked and used by them at Easter and at other times for big occasion services because the Church in Davigdor Road cannot take the numbers attending.  Because the Church of England seems to have decided Holy Trinity can never be used as a Church again, there seems to be a problem with letting the Coptic Christian Church buy it.  It seems very, very wrong.

Blatchington Road

The donated external Pulpit inscription

“This pulpit is erected to the Glory of God for the Preaching of the Gospel + by a soldier and his wife + AD1912″

The Grounds inside

The Grade 2 Listed 3-street-fronting continuous Flint wall

Goldstone Villas

Eaton Villas, streetview and insidethe grounds

Sadly the whole Eaton Villas side of the grounds and wall are not included in the proposal to turn the rest of the Church and grounds into a GP surgery and newbuild grounds pharmacy.  So what IS planned for this side?  Nobody is seemingly prepared to say.
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Planners: prioritising Housing Delivery at the expense of jobs? A case in point.

Microscape/Dubarry House.  And no, that is not a flat on the roof, yet...but it COULD so easily be converted.....

Will failures to get flats on this roof hold for much longer?

From Factory to:    offices, light industrial, leisure………….and flats…                             Dubarry House, Microscape House, Hove Business Centre 

The quiet Formation of a trajectory

The Coalition Govt decreed as of May 2013 (albeit on a 3-year temporary basis) that all existing office space in the country could be converted to housing without a planning application.  It has since stated its intention to make this permanent Planning Policy but is it likely to happen before the May 2015 election?  Will it be taken forward by the next Government?  Stopped?  Who knows.
Certainly developers seized on the opportunity with glee whilst BHCC immediately grabbed the Article 4 Directions option to at least force planning applications on some specified areas.  In Hove the only area chosen for protection was City Park between Hove Park and the Neville Road Greyhound Stadium.
So what of places like the former Dubarry Perfume Factory – now renamed in three sections as Dubarry House at the east end, Microscape House (formerly part of Dubarry House) and (for most of it) The Hove Business Centre.
The planning history shows a clear moment when this former perfume factory began to be seen in a very determined way as a development site for lucrative housing.  We need to look at this until-now largely invisible tussle!  Instead of regular long-term steady income from business occupancies, developers want in/out investment and single big chunks of money from outright sales.  Get rich quicker-style.
What the Government wants, is to weed out derelict and redundant pre-21st century spaces that are unlettable or unsuitable for 21st century equipment and working practices and to get some fast, voter-friendly housing in place.
What BHCC acknowledges is the fact that it is unprofitable to build offices AT ALL.  Certainly this is a sticking point where use of the Sackville Trading Estate consent is concerned.  This writer has had that from the developer himself a few years ago.  BHCC planning strategy sees loss of office space to housing as a way of making it more scarce so that rents achievable rise and it becomes profitable to newbuild offices.  Can’t fault that logic!  Plus it will please Govt planning inspectors who insist BHCC must put MORE housing into its City Plan.  Somehow.  But what about employers and employment space?

Formation of a trajectory: the planning history

BH2003/00124/FP:  Octopus Properties Ltd. submitted and gained planning consent for change of use of the Dubarry House end of the building which carries a Newtown Road address (it has an access point from it) to B1 office/light industrial plus 8 flats and an extension on the roof to provide office space and a roof terrace.  Foot in the door….so onward to a bolder move!
BH2003/02060/FP:  Octopus Properties Ltd promptly returned with a planning application seeking Change of use to B1 plus 14 flats, an extension on the roof to provide office space, residential accommodation and roof terrace. This application failed.  One aspect of the reasons for refusal was failure to retain employment land.   It was appealed, apparently; but either the council website has not been updated or this application appeal remains undecided and backburnered…simmering.
There is another 2003 application on the council website from Octopus for Dubarry House….but BH2003/03958/INVALID was never taken forward.  It is listed without further detail as withdrawn.
BH2004/00204 was registered for Dubarry House by Octopus Properties Ltd using Hove Park Villas for the address whilst the two previous applications got Newtown Road addresses.  Not sure why that happened.  But I found it!  This application gained consent to remove factory fire escapes from the Newtown Road side of the building and to add new balconies to four residential units plus window replacements.
It was around this time that Microscape, who had space in Dubarry House got that chunk renamed Microscape House.  Or so I deduce from looking at the planning record.
BH2004/01372/FP from applicants Microscape received consent for a “Glazed infill balustrade to create roof terrace.  Condition 2 stated that there must be no use made of the north side of the flat roof except for emergencies. 

The council has kept its foot on the brakes and refused to allow either Dubarry House or (the now) Microscape House sections of the old perfume factory to have residential use of the rooftop, even though it allowed an office extension that looks like a flat onto the roof.  See photo above!  Now comes the whining and the pressure.

BH2005/06169 was submitted by Octopus Properties, seeking erection of 2 penthouse flats with terraces for Dubarry House.  Their planning statement invoked the 2003 consent for offices & flats, saying “The concept of residential development was granted at this stage and therefore this application does not require a change of use, but relates to the construction of the penthouses”.  Twist.  Turn.  Contort.  They then invoked the glazed infill rooftop balustrade consent of 2004 to suggest “This permission demonstrates how the roof terrace is appropriate to be used as amenity space, and constructions (the balustrade) at this location are not considered to have a negative impact on the surroundin area”.  In spite of all the canny salami slicings this application cited, this application was still refused and it failed on Appeal as well.  No residential on the roof.
BH2010/01685 – again from the persisting Octopus Properties Ltd – came back for another go at putting housing on the roof of Dubarry.  This application sought erection of a one-bed penthouse incorporating the terrace.  And again the planning statement sought justification from the previous ones, saying, e.g. “is similar in design terms to the office extension” they got onto the roof.  And so of course it is “in keeping”.  And this application too failed.  The refusal was then endorsed on Appeal by the planning inspector who actually mentioned that it would be clearly visible from the footbridge over the railway.  Yup.  At eye level with activity on that terrace.  See photo above!

Push, push, push.  Block, block, block.  And the principle of residential on the factory roof has not been accepted at any stage.  But there is now a change of position at BHCC as a new mood of hysteria pushes for ever more housing….anywhere.  Regardless.  Just do it.  In the case of the old Dubarry Perfume factory housing looks like it is going to displace employers and employment space inch by inch.  Is that wise?  Do employers wish to share premises with domestic activity?  The Hove Business Centre, owned by Pearl & Coutts made the next move…the one currently on the table. 

BH2014/01981  from Pearl & Coutts put an open walkway above tiny Newtown Road back gardens along with  leisure terraces in 9 flats to go along the entire length of the Hove Business Centre section of the old factory.  It was going to be refused and so it was withdrawn.
BH2014/03742 soon replaced it, but enclosing the walkway so there is no overlooking of Newtown Road properties.  The flats casually assume that the massive skylight over business premises below is expendable (they freaked, as it happens) and that the Dance studio on the top floor that often hosts up to 100 people watching the dancers, even 38 Brazilian drummers on one occasion, won’t be any kind of a noise issue for whoever would live in these roof flats.  There is the assumption that there is no conflict of interests.  An assumption that is being made now by Brighton & Hove City Council’s planners.  Will the commercial tenants be forced to relocate if flats go on the roof?  Seems likely.  The application is recommended “Minded to Grant” and is to be determined on Wednesday, 28th January.

With this latest application to grow housing on the roof, we have a pivotal moment.  Councillors have to decide whether this is an employment site or that it is time to give the nod to slowly turn it into a block of flats.  If this application is agreed, just watch Dubarry House and Microspace come back again at their end of this venerable old factory, seeking residential use of that office with a terrace you see in the photo illustrating this article and read about in the front end of the planning history given here.  The principle of residential use of the rooftop has always been resisted until now.  With the officer recommendation that has now fallen.  Is employment space now increasingly expendable?  Seems so.  Up to you to decide councillors.

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Brighton’s Interwar Council Housing Estates: ‘Housewives with empty larders’

saveHOVE:

This 5-Star, really expert, blogpost isn’t about Hove but don’t miss reading: Brighton’s Interwar Council Housing Estates.

Originally posted on Municipal Dreams:

In 1921, Brighton was the second most densely populated county borough in the country after West Ham and, as a long-established town, a good deal of its housing was in worse condition than that of the London suburb.  If you associate it with Regency gentry or happy seaside holidays, this blog will show another side – a town with many slum homes and an urgent need to  better house its working-class population. But if council housing was the solution (as was accepted by nearly all in these days), the problem of making it affordable to the poorer working class remained a conundrum.

General_View_of_Moulsecoomb

Brighton Corporation had begun slum clearance efforts back in the 1890s and even built a small number of homes to rehouse – though at rents they couldn’t pay – some of those displaced.   In 1919 much remained to be done; the local Medical Officer of Health estimated 3152 new houses were needed…

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Designed-in conflicts of interest: the Holy Trinity Church pharmacy and GP surgery proposal

BH2014/04360 and BH2014/04361

Conversion to a GP surgery with its main entrance and …*alarm bells*…  an unfortunate newbuild pharmacy – both opening onto busy Goldstone Villas

Since 2008 here has been some secrecy and stalemate around the future of Holy Trinity Church in Hove, which occupies a prominent site, bordered by Blatchington Road to the south, Goldstone Villas to the west and Eaton Villas to the north.  A line of dwellings fronting Denmark Villas runs behind the eastern part of its Listed boundary wall.
The Church Commissioners first wish was demolition and getting their Housing Association (Hyde) to put up a huge flats complex right up to pavement’s edge.  That was seen off before it became a planning application.  Since then, all murmurings (and reasons for refusal to agree to Enforcement action over the collapsed wall section) have been of conversion to a doctor’s surgery, although some efforts were made to explore the possibility of converting it to school use.  In 2013, the Coptic Christian Church, based in Davigdor Road, was actively seeking to expand into a second church to handle its increasing congregation needs.  And Holy Trinity was of interest to their Committee.  Sadly, this seemed not to find favour with the Church Commissioners who have been clear they don’t want it back in Church use.  Appalling really.  And not mentioned in the marketing document for this application.
The developers for the GP surgery plan had fallen away and the price tag was just £750,000 I learned at the time from an email that came into saveHOVE informing us that it was back on the market and wondering if efforts could be made to get it for a school.  But perhaps the Church Commissioners already had the replacement developer in place and just did not want to talk about it.
History and Listing Info
Designed by James Woodman in the ‘Lombardo-Gothic’ or ‘Early English’ style, and built in 1863/4, Holy Trinity stood, loud and proud, in an open field.  A low flint wall was built around the grounds in about 1866.  The Annual Church Report of 1880 recorded the need “to raise the height of the wall on the north and west sides to prevent so much rubbish being thrown over”.   Look carefully, and you can just about see the join.  Various additions continued.   In 1912 it gained its outside wall pulpit, over near the vicarage house on the Blatchington Road side.  These are a rarity apparently. 
On the Eaton Villas side, the church hall went up in 1952 according to the Heritage documentation within the planning application.  And the long wooden building on the same side was a scout hut once upon a long ago. 
English Heritage gave the Holy Trinity Church building a Grade 2 Listing on 2nd November, 1992.  The flint wall was given its own, separate, Grade 2 listing on the same date. As there are two listed ‘buildings’ concerned, perhaps there should be two listed planning applications and not just the one (BH2014/04361)

So what are the problems…. 

The Red Line

The plans do not use the whole site.  The red line is drawn along the northern wall of the church, excluding the scout hut and church hall area on the Eaton Villas sideThere is not one single word of explanation within any document in the planning application to explain this. Why?  What IS planned for the scout hut and church hall area of the site? 

A newbuild ‘pillbox’ Pharmacy

Positioned in Goldstone Villas, beside and between the public toilet block and the church, a single-storey pharmacy would replace a large length of the existing listed flint wall and the mature and gracious fig tree.  Railings would then replace even more of the wall to give an open aspect because the west-side Church entrance is to be opened up and to have a porch extension added to create the main entrance and access from Goldstone Villas.

Who is not consulted that should be consulted and WHY!  Taxis, Boots, Bus Co., car drivers using Goldstone Villas…..those in love with the fig tree….etc.

1.  The planning application sees the bus stops in Goldstone Villas, outside the proposed entrance area as a plus.  I wonder if the worry about use of their stopping area to drop off and collect pharmacy customers/patients would concern the bus drivers.  There are two bus stops and buses often occupy the entire length of the block from Blatchington Road to Clarendon Villas….or need to.  Indeed their priority presence makes a major mockery of the dolt-headed, BHCC-installed, raised and painted “roundabout” that suddenly appeared a year or so back.  Northbound cars can’t drive through a bus in order to actually use it, so everyone goes over it.  Buses go over it too if cars are parked dead ahead!  And the white paint has all but worn off it now.  Would arriving and picked-up patients park in the bus stops area?  The bus company is not a consultee at this time. 
2.  The planning application sees the taxi rank in Goldstone Villas, outside the proposed entrance area as a plus.  The taxi rank is road-marked and reserved for taxi parking only from the public toilets area right down to the big tree yards from Blatchington Road.  People already feel free to park there, to use it for pickup and waiting for people.  Can you imagine how this would be ramped up by arriving and departing pharmacy customers and patients?  One needs only look at how the pickup area at the Church Road Tesco is abused by people parking on it to see the conflict of interests that putting the GP entrance THERE creates.  Worse:  imagine a fully parked-up rank blocking the access if a disabled person is being dropped off and double parking happens.  The taxi firms have not been consulted at this time. 
Cars travelling north up Ventnor Villas just S-bend into Blatchington Road and up into Goldstone Villas in one smooth, unbraked move if they can.  The pedestrian refuge was installed about 18 months ago to deal with the threat posed to pedestrians crossing Goldstone Villas.  So there is that, the dippy roundabout, a block-length of buses/stops and a block-length of taxi rank too.  A lot going on.  Is it wise to add a GP surgery entrance and a pharmacy to the mix? 
3.  And about that pharmacy!  Boots is about 30 yards away in George Street, is anchoring George Street and its pharmacy section is its busiest area.  They have not been consulted at this time about how it might affect their ability to justify staying in George Street if there is to be a brand new rival pharmacy so close by.
In Blatchington Road there is an independent chemist.  It is planned that HE is to go into the Holy Trinity pharmacy, he tells me.  But because no increase in pharmacy provision is allowed, a branch somewhere would have to close to allow the Holy Trinity pharmacy to open.  And it won’t be Blatchington Road that closes.  Somewhere else would close and that pharmacist would come to Blatchington Road.  So THREE pharmacies in close proximity.  How would this affect viability of all three of them?  Losing Boots would be a serious blow to George Street’s retail ‘offer’.  The duty manager has been informed of this application now and hopefully a response will be lobbed in.

So:  Fig tree uprooted, taxi drivers/rank compromised, Boots compromised, Goldstone Villas gets a little more crazy, the proposed future use of the Eaton Villas side of the church grounds is likely to be developed for – say – housing by the Church, quite separately, and we get a pharmacy in Goldstone Villas that nobody needs but which the applicants insist is required for their plans to be viable.  The Eaton Villas side should not be excluded from plans!  And we need chiropodists, dentists, physio and etc. services which could go there to make the project ‘viable’. 

Be sure to make two responses:  BH2014/04361 is the Listed Building application and BH2014/04360 is the Full Planning application. 

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