Hove MP seeks creative 5-yr change of use for Church Road premises

15the August 2015…..

 

Capture Planning Reg entry KylePlanning applications registered in the last week include this one, submitted by Hove’s new MP, Peter Kyle.  It is an application which should be looked at by everyone in his Hove & Portslade Constituency.  He seeks nothing less than creation of a highly active hub!  He is our MP and that hub needs to reflect Hove & Portslade Constituency voter needs first and foremost.
Many will be familiar with the shop premises in Church Road just east of Wilbury Road from where his General Election campaign was mounted. 
Many too, will also recall the Brighton & Hove Independent front page article, illustrated by a laughingly lairy Josh Arghiros (Karis) that told us he had donated £10,000 to Peter Kyle’s campaign.  Indeed at an Old Market meeting where this was raised as an issue, Mr. Kyle defended acceptance of it as necessary to fund his electoral campaign.  It is true that campaigns DO have to be funded, but taking money from the man who brought several years of planning mayhem to Hove (King Alfred) which only ended with his loss of ING funding and failure to gain new for it, was ‘concerning’.  Did his largesse start and stop there or is he still part of the Peter Kyle team, one wonders…. 
No matter, as it is not a planning consideration.  Read the Planning Statement and you get a set of plans for the premises over a few floors that go wa-a-a-ay beyond what an MP’s constituency office would normally be expected to provide or involve.  It would be a Labour Party Community Centre basically, out of which it could grow itself and parts of the (sympathetic) community it draws to it….plus house the MP in local premises. Will it be user-friendly for all parts of the community though?  Like the elderly?  Plans are highly youth-oriented, which could see a degree of exclusivity creep in.
The application requires 5 years temporary change of class A  shop/retail to B1 offices and D class community use.  If it was primarily community with ancillary office use, it would be preferable, as conversion to primarily office use leads in a straight line to an eventual conversion to housing without a planning application (current planning law).  This is not an issue today but does create a future certainty.  
A huge amount of activity is proposed for the site which might lead to amenity issues for surrounding residents, but surely none as serious as the growing number of restaurants in that part of Church Road produce!  It is a creative proposal which sees our MP (with his local Labour colleagues) giving the role of MP for Hove a total makeover that sees him outreaching into the community and schools proactively in a bid to engage and involve them in his base.  How is it to be funded?
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Hmmm… As shortlisted King Alfred proposals go in, its chocks away for cllr Nemeth!

14th August, 2015…..  I’m not sure how appropriate it was for brand new Councillor, Robert Nemeth, to go public with an article in today’s Brighton and Hove Independent which sees him appear to seize the King Alfred Project Board ‘spokesperson’ role a bit.   It is a welcome article but it invites people per se to go to him with  their comments, concerns, etc.  And it is not even in his ward.  Indeed there is a big question about his entitlement to solicit email contact from people outside his own ward.  There is a whole territorial imperative that councillors have to obey!  I’m wondering if eyebrows have shot up at Kings House on his journalistic initiative!  Jaws maybe dropped a bit….
Maybe a touch of self-serving chutzpah?  It blatantly promotes (and inflates the role of) the Tories.  Did he get the blessing of his fellow Project Board members?  Did they know this article was coming?
The Green Party’s representative was Cllr MacCafferty whose exemplary term as Chair of Planning before the May election certainly qualified him to be a very useful representative on it.  It is surprising, therefore, to learn from the article that new Cllr Tom Druitt has apparently replaced him.  Central Ward Cllr Andrew Wealls sat on the Project Board for the Tories; and King Alfred IS in Central Ward, but he has clearly deferred to his new Tory councillor colleague, whose knowledge of urban design and development is perhaps greater whilst also being personal.  Cllr Nemeth is also a property developer.
As one of the Wish Ward cllrs, Robert is certainly within the King Alfred purview; and the big saveHOVE campaign against the Karis/Gehry proposals from July 2005 until the withdrawal of developer Karis (post-planning consent when it lost its ING backers and could not replace them 2007/8) kept residents directly involved/informed as far west as Wish Ward, so Cllr Nemeth is right to be taking a big interest; however I would caution readers of the article to be very, very aware of the fact that this article from Robert Nemeth is absolutely laced with Tory Party propagandizing whilst also seeking to serve as a useful announcement (hijacked from the Labour Administration which ought to have wanted to extend the hand to the public that Robert here does).
We attend events!  And one hopes that the public will be allowed to see what the two shortlisted contenders each offered in their final submissions.  Cllr Nemeth does not stand on ceremony as he drops the gauntlet in this article and steals a march on the Administration’s Warren Morgan (Council Leader and on the Project Board for Labour). He highlights a disgraceful absence of public access to the process and for that we must thank him.
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“What has happened to Leah Keatings plan for a cafe in Hove Recreation Ground”

Ever since the planning application was flagged up on this website a steady stream of hits on that article has continued, even as the mystery grows as to why the park-keeper cottage in the the corner still awaits rescue and re-use.
It is, by the way, wrongly on maps and in council records as a public toilet.  It was never that.  It has two rooms, in one of which there is a fireplace which Leah was going to have to remove for cafe purposes.  In answer to the person putting in search terms that look like questions I should answer…. it is my understanding that the problem concerned installation of a loo on the Shirley Drive side at the back, but inside the Shirley Drive screening greenery/trees.
Not looked recently, or contacted Leah, but that is my understanding.  It’s a real shame.  She’s a nice lady.
The only bum note to her plans was the decking she wanted to install.  The Pavilion Gardens cafe trade is huge on plain ground with no need for cramping decking.  Look at the Small Batch decking in Goldstone Villas for how not to provide seating that is easily accessed and egressed.
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Downside evidence grows: Modern Renders and External Wall Insulation are a no-no

13th July 2015…..The Zero Carbon dream, the Green Deal, eco-positivity and manufacturers – all have contributed to a message that says if you envelope buildings with  either silicone or acrylic rendered external wall insulation, you are freeing residents from heating bills, damp, condensation and mould.  It’s a hey presto magic silver bullet! Wah-hey!  Right?  No.  As so often happens, the downside  emerges into the expensive light of regrets…..and not before.

Overheating

Increasing numbers of people complain that it is hotter inside than it is outside in warm weather and that they cannot cool their homes down by any means.  Having to install air conditioning and use fans to counteract stifling heat buildup that cannot escape at night from behind the EWI is not any kind of zero carbon dream and it means using electricity you would not otherwise have to use. Articles reporting scientists’ findings and concerns appeared recentlyin the Daily Mail and This is Money.  Trapped heat putting lives at risk was in May and Homes to ovens – lethal risk last week.  Please read them.  People in single aspect dwellings already suffer from lack of cross-ventilation and are at greatest risk in buildings clad with EWI, along with those living in high rise flats facing south.
If you wore a latex catsuit out in 25 C or 75F sunshine or wrapped yourself in a duvet coat to sit out in hot summer sunshine, wouldn’t you expect to get wet and damp inside that duvet/catsuit?  So it is with buildings.  And EWI is, effectively, a duvet; and the render over it is a seal to prevent moisture getting into it – so interior moisture can’t escape through it either.  It works both ways.  Plus, if the EWI went onto a less than perfect surface, and was not kept bone dry until over-rendered, the trapped moisture can begin to damage the building from within.

Condensation and mould

There have been too many reports of condensation and mould appearing after EWI has been put onto buildings which were previously dry and mould-free.  It forced the Scottish Government to commission a report.  This was published December 2012.  And now BRE Wales has put out a call for evidence for as they find cause to investigate this phenomena in Wales.
There is a growing body of references and literature concerning the downside of EWI.

 Water gets its wicked way

Where water gets under the render, or the EWI/render combo are slapped onto an imperfect building some very unsightly staining occurs – tide marks even!  And the guarantee is invalidated.
At Lancaster House on the Kingsway in Hove, brickwork was rendered just a few years ago.  Not exactly waterproof render, is it!  These photos below were taken on a bright sunny 19th January 2015 day when there had been no rain for a few days.  There is no EWI under it.
These two examples above are less than successful retrofit strategies addressing whatever and looking to extend the life of these buildings.
Newbuilds, however, are prematurely ageing where EWI and silicone or acrylic type renders are used on them. Within just a few years they acquire that, je ne sais quoi, banana-republic look.
Below is the greying and stained 1-3 Vallance Gardens on the Kingsway, which is only 5-6 years old.  Cream was chosen as white was thought to look dirty too quickly.  All these self-coloured renders are sold as maintenance-free and they are not.  This nice design, right for the seafront, looks grubby.  The van Alen is the same.  And I hate to think what it costs to periodically de-stain it and bring it back to its newbuild loveliness.
That ‘poor look’ that has no cachet (but DAMN, didn’t it cost!)
And here is what is happening to the textured render at ‘My Hotel’ in Jubilee Street – again just a few years old.  Classy!
EWI can mean incurring new costs and the payback period on retrofitting with it is higher than the potential lifetime of any building. This hits council housing leaseholders hard where EWI is being forced on them.  On the Clarendon & Ellen Estate, some leaseholders gave flats back to BHCC, sold or rented their homes out and left to go who knows where – because the roughly £23,000 cost notified to each of them was not doable.  Others have ceded part of their equity to BHCC to cover the cost – all without so much as a planning application in place. 
One application has been refused, a 2nd goes to Planning on the 15th of July recommended for refusal.  Several tenants have voiced opinions about preferring the brick and one who was shown the banana CGI below got quite upset, stared in utter disbelief; but none of them is willing to put head above parapet to give this view to the council.  The council will do what it wants is their defeatist and cowed position.   Elsewhere in the city council leaseholders are resorting to law – after the fact. 
Without so much as a serious building condition survey, it is planned to remove the concrete roof, existing insulation and paving stones on top of all that to install “an overlay system” on all the towers of the Clarendon & Ellen Estate.  No other explanation or documentation.  Just “overlay system”.  An independent surveyor and the builder who commissioned him on behalf of a group of leaseholders cannot see the justification for taking out the existing roof they examined on top of Clarendon House.  Mears don’t care.  And BHCC doesn’t care.  The mast climbers are up and they are already dismantling the Conway Court roof covering.  Getting on with spending their £6.4m budget.  And this too is deterring comment on the application – especially as Mears is already up and at it and pumps out paperwork about their progress….. 
This is what is planned visually:
up to 5 june 2015 022

From This to….

Bright custard yellow

Bright custard yellow

Then there is the carbon capture angle.  BHCC is anxious to reduce its carbon footprint and has a roll-out programme in place to slap EWI on all its housing stock (which also requires replacing windows to put in new that will overlap and make a seal over the EWI).  The biggest carbon capture freebie going is a mature tree!  Instead of the bi-annual hard pruning of street trees so they look like loo brushes, shouldn’t street trees be allowed to branch away so they can suck up all the carbon?  Shouldn’t there be a council tree policy that treats every mature tree as carbon-capture gold dust?  Here is the science!  
There is even a YouTube video of EWI cladding falling off Stanley House, a high rise building in Bootle in the Midlands.  It happened in 2006.  Reading one of the Malone references above, it is clear attachment method really matters.  On the Clarendon & Ellen Estate the bricks are just outer decoration in front of a cavity behind which are concrete panel walls.  Glueing and bolting through all that is what the site manager says is going to be done but there is nothing in the planning application about affixing.  Reading Malone, it is clear this needs SERIOUS consideration, especially at the top of the buildings….
Progress….you have to know what is and isn’t actually ‘progress’.  And you have to do your homework and you have to look at planning applications with care.  It is so imp0rtant not to shy away from involvement with the planning process; and the fact that Mears and BHCC consider their planning applications don’t have to wait for approval (and assume there will be no interference with plans) sets a disgusting example to the public and shows absolute contempt for the planning system.  Shame on them.
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Yes, but no, but…reluctantly…yes; but… The messy Holy Trinity application.

6 July 2015……..Yes, but no, but yes, but….. This famous catchphrase from “Little Britain” reflects how the planning dept’s decision report comes across.  What is proposed (a surgery) is a) needed, but b) pretty appalling, selfish, ugly and may never happen.
It is clear from the report that the application to convert Grade 2 Listed Holy Trinity Church, with its separately listed, Grade 2 flint enclosure wall (along three surrounding streets and on its east side, behind Denmark Villas terraced housing) is not ready for proper determination.  A decision, however, has been made to Grant Consent for conversion of Holy Trinity Church to a doctors’ surgery, albeit with a wall of 21 Conditions to deal with the unfinished business they have so far not agreed about.
Why agree unfinished business and unresolved problems? Because the applicants have the right to go to Appeal for non-determination of the application beyond a certain period of time, unless they agree to extend the period of consultation. And as with all developers, the information supplied has been only as much as needed to force a positive decision, leaving the rest to be dealt with behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny and consultation. That is what the Conditions list is about.
The medical practices wanting to relocate to this site (Ventnor Villas and Sackville Road) lobbied their patients who filled in form letters and declared their support for the scheme (almost certainly without ever seeing the application content or caring about it) and this was obvious from a viewing of them in the case file. And the existing crap facilities in these two practices is a big incentive to support relocation to a new Holy Trinity site. In principle that would have been absolutely brilliant.
But it isn’t brilliant and here is why:
1. The entire Eaton Villas frontage area is EXCLUDED from the scheme. Why? What is to happen where the Church Hall and scout huts are? Do the Church Commissioners have an as yet unknown plan for that bit? Along the north side, in shade? Housing? What?
2. The graceful, beautiful fig tree that oversails the flint wall by the public toilets block in Goldstone Villas is to be chopped down along with other trees there so the doctors (seeking a profit) can build themselves a pharmacy there. The council’s sustainability officer suggests a public allotment is created within the grounds instead.
3. The pharmacy will impact on nearby Boots and potentially reduce its profitability to a level which provokes its eventual closure. They have already lost trade to the pharmacy created in the Charter Medical Centre in Davigdor Road.
4. The Sackville practice catchment stretches to Wish Road. They were supposed to go into the purpose-built surgery below the flats in Portland Road on the site of the old bingo hall/Art Deco cinema. They didn’t take it in the end; and it remains empty and on the market seeking doctors to take the space (Zoopla/Zoomla?). I’d like to know what happened on that! Or was it the simple lure of a profitable pharmacy at Holy Trinity that changed their minds?
5. The listed integrity of Holy Trinity’s roof and its listed wall will be heavily compromised/destroyed. The roof is to be remodelled with the valley filled in and the resulting new roofline pockmarked with 35 rooflights, then covered with fibre cement fake ‘slates’ – real slate being deemed unaffordable. 50% of the listed flint wall (negligently described by the Conservation Advisory Group in its supporting comment as bungaroosh) on the Goldstone Villas side is to be torn down to accommodate a set of railings and the pharmacy block. The council’s heritage team see no justification for the railings or removal of listed flint wall at all and believe the pharmacy should go behind the flint wall and not be a brick wall replacing it. The team considers the rooflights and fake slate replacement roof “harmful”.
6. The listed integrity of Holy Trinity is to be further compromised by removal of all the stained glass windows and totally inadequate, incomplete details of how the window designs would work – including double glazing. The report complains about their wish to retain the open tracery (just take out the glass) because of a number of serious practical issues and clearly they were unable to get any agreement so, hey, leave it to a Condition because it isn’t serious enough to withhold actual consent overall. But it is unresolved and serious. It is a design issue and should be part of the public consultation process. NOW. This is one of the yes, but no, but….bits of the report.
7. The listed integrity of Holy Trinity would be further compromised by the “removal of original masonry to create the staff entrance…..” and in the report it is given that officers consider “that the existing entrance and lobby should be reconfigured to include the staff entrance, thereby avoiding controversial alterations”, etc.
The listed status will almost certainly be lost. The building and wall will remain and be re-used if the applicants feel they can be arsed to meet and discharge the 21 Conditions in order to implement this consent. And consent has been given, in spite of multiple breaches of Local Plan policies, and for this reason:

“Whilst considerable weight is given to the finding of harm, this is considered to be outweighed by the advantages of the scheme”

Read the Full Planning report here
Read the Listed Building report here

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