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A sudden flurry of significant redevelopment proposals to look at….three

25.11.15…..Last weekend saw two exhibitions on the same day.  Thursday, 26th sees the third.  The Argus, Brighton Independent along with Brighton & Hove News have all given coverage of these and links to the articles will go into the What the Papers Said area of this website in due course (time!!! time !).  And pictures will get slotted into the text below too.
Texaco Garage site
The Co-op own this site on the Kingsway, adjacent to King Alfred, along with the Alibi Pub the other side of the garage site.  They plan a block of 51 flats to go there, with a Co-op supermarket on the ground floor area.  It is 8 storeys high on the corner, stepping down a bit to St. Aubyns Mansion on one side and the Alibi the other.  And it is just a 1960’s council estate-style set of yellow brick boxes really.  The 8-storey bit looks decidely “reachy” and given that St. Aubyns opposite has a round corner and the Alibi Pub is full of round bits too, this effort sits uneasily there, in that historic setting.  The plans are exhibited at the Princes Marine Hotel on Thursday, 26th November between 4-6pm.
The Sackville Hotel site
Vacant for a few years now, since it “fell”, and since receiving planning consent for a development that is not now apparently to go ahead, the news is that Hyde Housing Association have a deal in place which will see them buy the site if they receive planning consent for their own proposal. On Saturday they exhibited a number of images which will constitute their formal public consultation effort, and the feedback received at King Alfred on Saturday will go into their planning application.
It DOES beg the question of what has been going on since the hotel “fell”.  Did loss adjusters pay out (or not)?  Is there a financial issue that means the fought-for 5-storey townhouses scheme cannot proceed?  What?
What is proposed is a 17-storey barrel with a lot of busy detailing all over it and some chunky low bits round the bottom, basically.  It is, in isolation interesting.  But in this context, very domineeering.  It is a big old bully in that setting, looming in an overbearing way from the perspective of housing directly to the rear and beside it.  And a commandeering of the lawn opposite for turning into some sort of busyness that will break up the continuous line of lawn is also proposed in order to  make it into something or other that is going to probably look like The Level in Brighton.  The judgment is that it is “underused” at present.  Apparently a mediating line of lawn between the sea and the city is not a thing in itself – it must be seen to be actively engaged with in a very physically obvious way.  CRAP!!!
It is understood that a fast submission of the planning application is expected, so stay vigilant for that. 
Emails from a saveHOVE supporter are in prep to be put on here as a guest article letting rip about the violations of architectural principles and demerits of this proposal.  Geoffrey Baker is an architect and former Brighton Polytechnic Reader (see elsewhere on here for mention of his book on James Stirling).
Hove Station
Also on Saturday, held at the big old Church in Clarendon Villas, was MATSIM’s exhibition of what they propose to jam into a very small area between Fonthill Road and Ethel Street and between Conway Street and Ellen Street.  It is an island site with very difficult road access into it.  Nevertheless, in 15 storeys, 200 flats are proposed, along with shops, offices and whatnot.  10-storey Livingstone House, with 54 flats in it, sits just in front of it on Clarendon Road.  Add 27 to that to  get a 15 storey comparison – 81.  So it is clear these 200 flats (with a lot of other uses required of the site too) will be battery cages at best if it all goes ahead. 
The MATSIM exhibition was held jointly with the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum’s Have Your Say Day and it is clear the Forum supports this scheme.  They should not.  Their job is to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan to sit under the City Plan – not to get in bed with developers….or should I say OVERDEVELOPERS. 
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Medina House: errata! Polly Samson is the new owner

25.11.15…..”Wifeism”, she observed wryly in her one and only public comment following publication in the Argus of news Medina House had been sold by Sirus Taghan.  Polly Samson put out a tweet declaring that it was she who had bought Medina House and not the couple or her husband, David Gilmour. 
The error would not have appeared in the Argus had their representatives got back to the Argus when information was sought ahead of publication….but there you go.  The tweet set the record straight – echoed here.
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Medina House! Serious good news: David Gilmour & Polly Samson are to have it next

30 October 2015…..So many people have tried to buy Medina House from Sirus Taghan over recent years, including the Gilmours.  And all failed.  Esplanade neighbours understood that Polly Samson wanted to turn it into a spa, which would have worked well.  The various exasperated who went to Taghan said he always quoted £5m – in other words “not for sale”. 
And following one unused planning consent, the trail of failed planning applications from Sirus, along with occasional failed Appeals, continued to grow….  Two serious attempts to burn the place down also came along.   A few of these adventures are documented elsewhere on this website (including the saveHOVE achievement of a Planning Brief for it from Brighton & Hove City Council) so…onward!
Some weeks ago now, Ruth & Miles learned that the Gilmours had persuaded Medina House out of Sirus Taghan’s ownership.  And the Land Registry showed Polly Samson’s name on the two separate parcels of land making up the Medina House site – but as an uncompleted change of ownership.  So the information was only shared with a few Esplanade residents as we politely attended events.  Polly was reportedly seen photographing Medina House….a sure sign, one mused, that a planning application was in the offing. Sudden professional activity at Medina House was making it obvious something was moving – asbestos and other internal clearance. 
Having been copied into a group email set of exchanges on another Esplanade issue, Argus reporter, Neil Vowles, this week  saw an off-topic comment in one of them about Medina House and immediately made enquiries.  He went to Sirus Taghan.  Cat. Bag. Out.  Today, Friday, page 3 of The Argus print edition is expected to tell the tale according to Sirus Taghan….the Gilmours have yet to respond to Argus queries and saveHOVE has not approached them….yet, but if all goes as the rumourmill and Taghan suggest, we may soon be able to say: Medina House is most worthily saved and will become a home.  Here’s hoping!
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Hove MP’s change-of-use premises planning application still not decided

24th October, 2015…..There has been much made of problems concerning the Brighton & Hove planning department recently and  reported in The Argus.  Readers of the post below and  of the article in The Argus that followed were made aware of a planning application from the new Hove MP concerning his constituency office plans – sited within premises without office use class designation and without community use designation either. 
The application was registered and put out to public consultation on 12th August….but I have to tell you, it remains undetermined according to the Brighton & Hove City Council website and so the expected 8 weeks for determination are expired.  After 8 weeks applications remain under consideration by mutual agreement or applicants can go to Appeal on the grounds of non-determination of an application.  A decision cannot be far off….be it under delegated powers or by Planning Committee; and of course who decides is down to the number of consultation responses objecting and/or supporting along with planning policy issues and what the planners feel about the removal of a retail unit from Church Road for the MP’s purposes, albeit on a 5-year temporary basis.  It constitutes a precedent. 
And therein lies the rub.  If office use is legitimised there is the question of whether or not it could ultimately wind up converted to housing.  Does it matter?
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