“Something needs to be done. This is something; therefore this needs to be done.”
– Preston Park’s Green Cllr Leo Littman, used these lines from the TV series “Yes Minister” to caution the Planning Committee against feeling obliged to settle for too little in determining the Anston House redevelopment proposal BH2012/02205.
2 May 2013…..It really is the saddest truth that, over many years, decisions at Planning Committee occasionally involve a councillor saying something like: “this is the ….. time the applicants have come back with yet another proposal; they’ll only keep coming back…..we can’t keep turning things down over and over” and then councillors give in to the pressure from the developers and agree to less than is REALLY acceptable.
One of the most unacceptable examples of this was the loss of the art nouveau bronze window and door surrounds at the significantly prominent building on the corner of Holland Road and Western Road by Palmeira Square. With scaffolding around this beautiful building swathed in blue plastic sheeting, nothing done behind it could be seen and neither the building’s owner, nor Tesco (who were turningthe ground floor area with the bronze windows into a Tesco Express), had an explanation for the removal and replacement with Tesco’s corporate design (removed by someone without planning consent). To this day it is not known what was done with these extraordinary window and entrance bronze decorations.
An alert to saveHOVE from supporters living close by resulted in Tesco being asked to put things right. After a couple of feeble and ugly applications, LibDem ward Cllr David Watkins, who sat on Planning then, wearily made the above cave-in type statement. He was unwilling to hold out for reinstatement. “This is as good as we will get” kind of thing. This writer sat there heartbroken and feeling betrayed. Tesco had got away with it.
Many a complaint about failed planning applications mirrors the “Yes, Minister” quote – almost verbatim. And having the self-respect to demand that hungry-for-profit developers provide not just adequate but EXCELLENT and RESPECTFUL proposals is not about being “closed to business” – another tedious bit of tosh – but about what is wanted for the future of this city and as a legacy for voting politicians.
One or two, not adequately in the know, will be reading this and smirking that saveHOVE was set up to stop Frank Gehry’s King Alfred proposals and they will be thinking we opposed a class act. We did not.
To just give one example….those two tall central towers were cruciform, concrete, tower blocks and no more. All that wavy metal in the drawings for just tacked-on, bent-about aluminium sheets with window-like holes in it. It was what architects term a “rain screen” and people would have viewed the world from their balconies through the holes in these rattling sheets of aluminium. The building was not some innovative, titanium-covered, shape at all. Just a cross – which thankfully Hove did not in the end have to bear, but only thanks to the global banking catastrophe. The Planning Committee (Labour plus LibDem David Watkins) gave it planning consent. Green cllr Sue Paskins and all the Conservative cllrs voted against it.
On the 24th of April, 2013, five councillors did this city proud by not feeling obliged to accept a badly flawed replacement scheme for Anston House – which officers had recommended for approval in their Agenda Report. And it was refused – but only just. Just five councillors out of 12 carried the day; the rest wanted it or abstained. The Minutes of that meeting, available after 8th May, will contained the who voted how as the decision was made with a recorded vote. Urban Splash will no doubt appeal rather than come back with a better proposal.
You DON’t accept a proposal on the grounds that Anston House has stood there for years and is gross and just because “something needs to be done”. You DON’t accept the Urban Splash proposal on the table because “This is something; therefore this needs to be done”. You stand up for Preston Park, the London Road corridor into the city and for space standards and affordable housing and design standards that do not put an overdevelopment disrespectfully looming from pavement’s edge.
Why does BHCC not demand developments are set back from the pavements’ edges? Why?