Cinderella shall NOT go to the Ball…..
8 March 2013…..A delegation of Kings Esplanade/Medina Terrace residents attended the Economic Development and Culture Committee on the day a draft Planning Brief for Medina House was on the Agenda. The committee was asked to also look at the area surrounding it and to consider a rethink of boundaries drawn for the Cliftonville (1969), Old Hove (1997) and Princes and Pembroke (1989) conservation areas.
At present, the King Alfred/RNR, St. Aubyns Mansions, Texaco and Bath Court group of buildings are surrounded by, but excluded from, conservation area status. This action was taken many, many years ago when it was all wanted for a single redevelopment. A vast glass shard was wanted to go there! We were refused consideration of this or of creating a single Conservation Area for Medina House and the Victoria Cottages/Sussex Road area behind it.
The Character Statements created in 1997 for these areas lack detail and fail to adequately reflect what they could compared to other Character Statements in the city. They badly need revision and updating. Sadly, the City Planners refused the request, saying they want to focus on creating them in areas that don’t already have them.
We were told that the Conservation Strategy, referred to at the end of the address, is, however, currently under review (!).
Below is the text of the address to the Economic Development and Culture Committee.
We’d like to thank the council for the Medina House planning brief before you today, and to use this occasion to highlight wider planning issues in the area around it.
With the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, the end of plentiful, cheap fuel and readily obtainable servants also came developers replacing large houses with more and more high rises.
And it is some 40 years since Hove’s Policy for Future Residential Development was adopted in May 1962 which specified the areas where high rises could go and which sought to protect solidly built family homes and the character of areas.
Huge chunks of central Hove were considered expendable – from Hove Station to Kings Esplanade, between Sackville Road and First Avenue.
Flag Court had already been built and that 1962 policy envisaged 9-storey blocks westwards from it, over to St. Aubyns South by King Alfred.
The policy called for “Development in a rectangle, with 9 storeys facing Kings Esplanade between Medina Terrace and Sussex Road”. Subsequently, garden areas were taken from behind Victoria Terrace to build Benham Court on the Esplanade. It was a garden grab. In 1971 when developers began buying up Victoria and Medina Terraces, nos 1-6 Victoria Terrace won recognition as an incomplete Amon Henry Wilds design and a spot listing.
By 1976/7 a demolition consent for 1-6 Victoria Terrace was being overturned by the Secretary of State who also accepted the Amon Henry Wilds attribution for it.
Sadly, rather as two World Wars still cast their shadow, so that period in Hove’s planning history lingered and needs purging. The hankering for seafront towers doesn’t go away and the irony is the late sixties also saw creation of conservation areas and realisation of need to treasure heritage areas and architecture, not demolish it.
The first conservation areas were created in Brighton and Hove in 1969 and the ones affecting the historic old Hove/Cliftonville area make no sense.
The Cliftonville Conservation Area was created in 1969 but the 1997 Character Statement for it makes no mention of Amon Henry Wilds or the fact that Victoria Terrace is the westernmost outpost of significant Regency architecture in Hove, although incomplete and not his best work.
Across Kingsway, the Old Hove conservation area was only created in 1997 when Citigrove were looking to redevelop King Alfred.
Surely Hove Street to St. Aubyns Gardens and Esplanade part of the Cliftonville Conservation Area belong together? Indeed, as Victoria Terrace is given as circa 1840, so 7 St. Aubyns Gardens opposite is of similar vintage, if not earlier. It was once half of a semi, with deeper bays and covered in mathematical tiles. Bungaroosh remains in some of its walls.
The Pembroke and Princes Conservation area was formed in 1989, leaving out the King Alfred/RNR site, the Texaco Station, beautiful St. Aubyns Mansions and Bath Court. It is in isolating these buildings that we see the lingering values of 1962 casting their long shaow. I once saw a letter in the King Alfred planning file reminding that a vast glass shard was once mooted for this area.
Old Hove, Princes & Pembroke and Cliftonville badly need their lines redrawn to make better sense and give recognition to what remains of the physical evidence for its’ history. The Character Statements do not adequately reflect what is there either.
Because there is lack of clarity, we have seen confusion over the last 3-4 years around no. 2 Victoria Terrace actions and applications that failed to respect its listed status.
The Esplanade Colony has remained in a strange limbo state of aborted redevelopments and abandoned high rise dreams since 1977. The Tall Building Strategy confirmed residual interest in high rising the life out of the Esplanade.
Hove’s valued heritage and history has yet to be given its due planning-wise in that area.
At 4.2 of the 2003 adopted Conservation Strategy we see a duty to review conservation areas from time to time, to consider amending boundaries or designating additional ones. Is the strip from Medina House up through Victoria Cottages and Sussex Road to Victoria Terrace now worth considering for a specific designation among the other possibilities hoped for here?