George Street Hove – a Target area for Thieves

4.11.17…..In the run-up to Christmas the police usually put out a public appeal about burglary and theft dangers, but I wonder if they will this year.  They have begged the Government for help but instead their numbers are cut, resources witheld.  So, folks, the onus is more and more on US, isn’t it.
George Street has changed quite profoundly since pedestrianisation.   We’ve lost higher quality retail traders and gained coffee shops, boozers and betting shops.   We also have a lot of charity shops.
I was in Woolworths (now Peacocks) one day, not long after pedestrianisation, and the  manager was following me around in an agitated way.  It freaked me out, so I confronted him!  He relaxed and told me that since pedestrianisation, his shoplifting problem had increased by 25%.  The why of that is worth serious consideration, because it is an ongoing problem in the area.
I have myself had two purse thefts from my handbag and right under my nose since George Street was pedestrianised and began to attract non-locals to the area…and not to come and buy things either.
On the 1st of November I had my purse stolen, out of my bag, which was itself under the seat of my walking aid!  In George Street.  My thief or thieves learned a lot about me from my purse contents – like that I have a transplant, what drugs I have to swallow, who my doctors are, where I bank & shop and that I am disabled and need taxis to get about.   And they know what goes into my bank account too (I had just been there and got cash and a mini-statement).  Wow.  Quite a haul.
My only other purse theft (ever) was at Hove Library 12-15 years ago when I was using their  computers.  My bag was on the floor with my foot on it.  And I remember the crazed look on a fellow’s face as he stood in the doorway leering at me.  And I saw that same look a week or so later (different bag) when I was back in the library and he was suddenly beside me, leaning forward, staring openly at the bag sitting by the printer with me watching him.  So I assumed he was my thief!  He looked like he had a challenge in front of him that gave him a big kick.  It was extraordinary.  But he knew to leave this one and chuckled off.

“We lose a lot in here”

But back to George Street!  I know where my purse got taken this week because it was the only opportunity.  The British Heart Foundation charity shop is hard to get round with a walking aid.  There is NO space between the crammed together island rails and there are NO lines of sight through it all.  And when I went to pay for a book and CD and found I had no purse, the lady behind the counter at the British Heart Foundation Charity Shop told me she’d had her purse taken in Sainsbury and added “we lose a lot in here”.  Clothes can be whipped off rails unseen in there and I think my purse was taken by an unseen hand sliding between the seat of my walking aid and the hanging bag under it.  Piece of cake to do it unseen in that overstuffed shop.
My purse was inside my handbag which was inside the underseat bag. It took serious skill to take it. The walker is either in front of me or I am sat on it almost continually.  A professional thief?  If the zip on the handbag was open, it would have possible for them to just put a hand between the seat and underseat bag and whip it out, totally unseen.  There seemed to be an uncommon number of people present at the time, rifling rails but looking at me which I noticed but did not think about.  I was jostled as I reached to hand a pair of velvet trousers to an assistant to re-hang.  Was that when it happened?  The mind runs and re-runs and then thinks about how THEY think.

Busy shops, cash points and bank users

I had just been to the bank.  We are often warned to be careful of thieves at cashpoints arn’t we?  Well banks too!!  Thieves won’t want to waste their time taking risks for near empty wallets and purses, do they!  I am a dinosaur and more about cash than cards and it cost me all but about £20 of an entire week’s pension on this occasion.  A friend says he never carries cash anymore, always uses a card.  But I need to carry cash for my necessary taxis and never acquired a cards-for-everything mindset.  I may have to rethink that.  And not have a single purse for coins, notes, debit and loyalty cards, etc.  Was I targetted and followed?  Was there a gang of them?
But BACK to why George Street and the area ARE targetted.
There are a LOT of charity shops, run by volunteers, with no security tags or CCTV.  Theft of goods from them is RIFE.  Are they the magnet that brings thieves to the area?  How many thieves ARE there?  I once watched a man (glaze-eyed) take a shirt into the changing room of the previous Martlets shop in Blatchington Rd.  It was a gorgeous linen thing I fancied trying on.  I waited to see if he was going to have it.  I did not notice him slip out of the changing room or shop (leaving the changing room curtain closed) – but he did so, and he took that shirt.
Tis the season, the police have long told us….not just for Christmas, but for thieves. You are warned.  And so am I.  I have struggled to feel well this week.  Mourn the loss of my green leather purse with its brown leather tassle on the zipper….a ridiculous amount.  But WHAT strategies can we possibly deploy to safeguard purses and wallets – apart from avoiding overstuffed insecure shops and crowded places……even online is a den of thieves now….
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Crest Nicholson propose 150 plus flats – Lyon Close nr Wickes

Thursday, 24th August saw Crest Nicholson host a day of meetings to seek preliminary feedback about their plans to redevelop land at Lyon Close in Hove, to provide over 150 flats.  Since being chosen for King Alfred they have been having a nose around Hove and begun to look to develop in the city – not having done so before.  They have just had Mile Oak refused…..  Now comes this one!
The Lyon Close site is very private, tucked away behind Davigdor Road’s Montefiore Hospital and Hyde Housing’s offices-consented-for-redevelopment site.  Lyon Close is part of the Peacock Industrial Estate east of Wickes and the new carpet shop that recently replaced Staples on Davigdor Road. South of the site are the Hyde Housing offices, due for redevelopment into flats and the Montefiore orthopaedic hospital, each fronting Davigdor Road.

The clip is from
Those of us invited to come along, including ward cllr Jackie O’Quinn, were taken through their thinking to date, shown one layout design which the Design Review Panel did not like and a revised option.  They have had one session of pre-planning advice with BHCC planning officers and will shortly have another with intention to submit a planning application just before Christmas.  Cllr O’Quinn arrived while I was there and so I record some of her feedback to Crest Nicholson & Saville representatives (doing the application), along with my own.
Cllr O’Quinn knows the issues and constraints of dealing with Railtrack who have an Easement over this site and she is very familiar with all the battles residents have had over tree and vegetation clearances along the railway Cut in this area.  How the railway edge of this site is to be handled was much discussed, both by her and myself, with the Crest, Saville, PR team hosting this pre-design consultation meeting.
Their first layout proposal was for 4x6storey, flat roofed blocks with low-rise between them.  The Design Review Team had been negative about this, suggesting staggered heights of buildings.  Regrettably  that Panel also had uninformed suggestions of creating a sense of community here.  Both Cllr O’Quinn and myself disabused them of THAT notion being valid.  Blocks of flats do not do that.  In fact, in my experience of living in one, a heightened requirement for personal privacy dominates in a very self-protective way.
So, in response to the Design Review Panel’s feedback, the new layout of several buildings has staggered heights, including one 7 storey and one 9 storey.  It was one of only two times I reacted with an adamant “NO!”.  Whilst I quoted the Tall Building Policy (which the Saville’s rep thought negotiable & allowable!!!!), Cllr O’Quinn warned about the vociferous response to height that they could expect from the well-heeled in big houses on the opposite side of the railway Cut and surrounding streets who would go mad.  We both drew the line at 6 storeys MAX!
The revised layout had these staggered buildings but one long one right along the railway line border.  No prizes for guessing that THIS would be the affordable housing element – proposed to be a full 40% for this scheme.  Bang on top of the noise of railway traffic.  It’s not on. It’s cruelty housing and I said so.  The Crest representative defence of it was a worry.  It was my second adamant “NO!”
The debate about how to site the housing element of the scheme and whether or how much landscaping can go along the trackside area is absolutely central to how this is going to work or fail.  I suggested  that before any scheme is designed even, they need to sit down with Railtrack and work out what will and will not be cooperatively agreed by them.
Both Cllr O’Quinn and myself banged the gong for extensive greening of this site.  Cllr O’Quinn said that part of Hove was in need of more greening (thinking no doubt of the other side of the railway cut) and it would help to camouflage the buildings which people would not want to look at.  I pleaded for noise buffering tall plantings along the boundary with the Railtrack bit – evergreen and shallow-rooting perhaps, to avoid the “leaves on the line” or embankment roots and shoots issue that would get Railtrack objecting to the scheme.  Whilst it is no longer a railway siding, they RETAIN Easement rights over how the entire site is used!!!  So, really, NOTHING can go there until, and unless, they deign to give Crest some time and cooperation.  Which so far, they have not.
Noise buffering with plantings is how the length of our railway lines have been treated everywhere and there HAS to be a way to make this site less noisy when trains roar past at night and at dawn. And just triple glazing with heavy duty glass will not be a way to deal with the noise.  When trickle vents are open, noise roars through the ones where I live.  And in summer, windows need to be openable.
Within the paperwork brought to the meeting was a fabulous old photo of the site from its railway siding days.  The Sackville Trading Estate was also a railway siding and goods yard at one time.  And it has ongoing decontamination issues which were identified in planning applications a few years ago now.  This site will also have to be closely looked at for the same things.  And it will affect whether or not underground parking can be provided.  If extensive decontamination is required the area will just be capped and there would be no digging into it for underground parking basements.
Cllr O’Quinn brought up parking first and foremost.  I know from years of planning apps and planning committees that this is a major issue.  If no basement is possible….they have a problem.  All agree that car club provision would be wanted for the new estate.  I warned them the Tories are uber-keen about parking provision on a 1:1 basis!  One car space per flat.   Unlikely here!
I warned there is no significant food shopping nearby which would mean getting in cars or needing delivery space for food bought online.
One brick elevation drawing in the stack  seemed suggestive only of appearance, but had an interesting internal balcony treatment  lopping off a right angle corner.  Both myself and Cllr O’Quinn spoke about proximity of Hove Station making this an attractive potential commuter flats site.  I wondered about family housing, but it was not thought right for this site.  I still think BHCC might look to get some 3 and 4 bed flats here, though.
The site is on the Peacock Industrial Estate, and before that it was a railway siding.  An element of employment space is proposed to be incorporated in the scheme to replace the small amount of employment the present warehouses can provide.  How will BHCC feel about losing the entire site as employment-led?
In the last year or two the loss of GP surgeries became a serious issue for the city.  Across the road from this proposed redevelopment is the Charter Medical Centre which agreed to take over the 10,000 list when the Cromwell Road practice was forcibly closed by the authorities.  It CANNOT take on residents from this site too, on top of who will go into whatever Hyde eventually builds in front of this site (and another building here is going to be converted to flats too!!).  Scary, huh?  This too was brought up and discussed.  With sad faces.
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A Long History of Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate

In memoriam and to introduce a blogger before whom I bow low. Municipal Dreams is an expert resource for anyone interested in housing.

Municipal Dreams

My article for iNews on the longer history of Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate to which it belonged was published yesterday. You can read it here:  A perfect storm of disadvantage: the history of Grenfell Tower.

When you visit Grenfell and the Estate, as I had to for the article, it’s hard not to feel intrusive. Taking photographs can seem even more insensitive but it seemed important to record something more than what, inevitably, have become our dominant images of Grenfell.  I hope the photographs which follow are a respectful tribute to the estate and its residents.

Grenfell Estate Sign SNBarandon Court SNHurstway SNGrenfell and green court 2 SNGrenfell and green court SNGrenfell tributeJustice for Grenfell SN

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The ‘fallen’ Sackville Hotel site: a second Hyde application now submitted

Early notice of BH2017/01108

1.4.17….Instead of registered planning applications, new applications received in the previous week are now published each Saturday on the Brighton & Hove City Council planning register.  Keep looking at the planning register entry for 189 Kingsway or as described here to catch the application when finally registered and the  documents are uploaded so you can see what is proposed.  Only then will it be out to public consultation.



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The Sackville Trading Estate redevelopment by Mountpark

18.3.17….Blimey!  It’s only 9:30am and site admin tells me three searches for Mountpark have brought eyes to this site already today – where I have yet to write anything.  For best current position please go to the Argus article published on Friday, 17th March….and read the comments trail as well.  And go along to the St. Barnabas Church Hall today to listen to Mountpark talk about this projectand their plans.  Hosted by the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum who are promoting both MATSIM’s 17 storey monster for Ellen Street and this huge proposal for the Sackville Trading Estate.  11am to 3pm.
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