2 June 2013…..Medina House was bought from Hove Borough Council in its’ dying days – just as it was merging with Brighton. Sirus Taghan paid £300,000 for it. What is it worth today after he ‘sold’ or transferred to two others, one of which is thought to be his wife, one wonders….
In the early years of his now 15-year ownership of Medina House, Taghan was given planning consent to convert Medina House to flats, with the pool (now yard) area having a house built on it, to be added to the length of little cottages making up Victoria Cottages – a row of hidden housing separated from Marrocco by a narrow pedestrian twitten which provides access from both the Kingsway and from the Esplanade.
In the wake of that, Sirus Taghan bought the Victoria Cottage adjacent to the back wall of the pool/yard area and he has since put a direct access into it from that yard. He never used the planning consent and it was left to expire. It is said the owner of that cottage sold it to him because of the planning consent to build beside him. Developments have a way of frightening people so they move away. Happened with the Karis/King Alfred too when people expected their way of life and reason for living where they did to be destroyed.
One of the many schemes and planning application attempts since then has involved converting that tiny little cottage into – would you seriously credit this – unliveably tiny bedsits. It didn’t happen. All just as the boom years saw developers plundering this country’s land assets for all they were worth and making serious mega-squillions out of the moment.
What did Taghan do? He went for attempt, after attempt, after attempt at putting a mega-tower on the site of Medina House. And b****r the Sussex Road cottages and the Victoria Cottages hard up against the back border of Medina House – no space separates the Medina House land from Victoria Cottages and no more than a metre of space separates it from the north-western flank of one of the Sussex Road cottages.
You can see just how serious this is from the photos above, taken on the day of the fire at Medina House on 31.5.13. It is so easy to see how profoundly absurd and unacceptable the idea of an eclipsing tower on that site would be, how ruthlessly cruel and destructive. And still he persists, refusing to acknowledge the rights of the residents of Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages to any quality of life whatsoever if a tower went up on the Medina House site.
And still there are members of the public who agree with him, people he can get to support and do new schemes for him. They should look at these photos and think on.
When Bath Court went up, only the area adjacent to Medina House (where the entrance to Sussex Road is wider), and along the Esplanade, was built as high as it is. Look at the photograph below to note the back area treatment. The height is starkly dropped by five storeys out of consideration for light, appearance of Sussex Road’s roofline and quality of life for existing Sussex Road houses. A drop of no less than 5 storeys ! Look too at the view down Sussex Road from the Kingsway end. It is a one-way, lane-like, street which, in his last couple of applications, Sirus Taghan wanted to use for access to an underground car park he proposed for the back area of a redeveloped Medina House site. Who in their right mind would think this reasonable? As it is, cars have to park on the tiny, narrow pavements there to allow other cars to pass.
And if you can agree that Sussex Rd has serious limitations, access-wise, cop a look down Victoria Cottages to the sea-end, as viewed and photographed from the Kingsway. Just a pedestrian passage – a twitten. Imagine their quality of life if the sea-end was blocked by anything higher than the existing Medina House. It already suffers from low light and sunlight provision. How dank and dreary would a replacement development at Medina House make it? Nothing higher than the existing Medina House can be put on the site. End of.
So why did Sirus Taghan keep on with his tall towers ideas. There was a 17-storey glass spire designed by Nick Lomax that never got to the planning application stage. A spinning plates design that saveHOVE got onto the front page of the Argus was proposed…but never became a planning application. Indeed a saveHOVE supporter outed tha particular design as an existing, already built, waterfront development in Scandinavia. That was the end of that idea from Taghan. And on it went to applications that failed and went to Appeal and failed again when looked at by a government Planning Inspector.
All this happened in the most inflationary boom years this country’s property developers ever had gifted to them. Were any of these attempts actually SERIOUS? What has this man been playing at? Why did he have all those caravans in the old pool area, now a yard?
Residents report this caravan parked in front of Medina House at the time of the fire had been there three weeks with visitor permits on it before the fire of 31.5.13. Residents do wonder how this is possible and what they might know about recent activity around Medina House.
They further report seeing people going into Medina House and bringing out wood whch is taken to the beach to use for fuel in bonfires. Bonfires on the beach are forbidden; plus, unless expressly getting consent from Taghan to go into Medina House, then they were surely trespassing or even breaking and entering to get that wood if the building was secured as the council asked. Are they stripping the interior fabric of the building and burning it on the beach? With or without the permission of the owner? What has been going on?
Why does Sirus Taghan even own the place? Why? When people approach him to ask to buy it, he demands £5m, we are told. He clearly does not want to sell it. And what has he paid in fees for all the designs, applications and appeals over the last 15 years? Money thrown away. Why? And since 2007/8 the mother of all global financial implosions has stopped the crazy overdevelopments everywhere, halted the developers’ gravy train (and left this country pock-marked by nasty, cheaply made tower blocks full of unliveably small one-bed rabbit hutch flats). But Sirus Taghan kept on keeping on with his impossible schemes for the Medina House site – all of which involved demolition. And he was happy to have a caravan site there and allsorts. I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote to describe that financial collapse everyone but Sirus Taghan seemed to take account of…which is still unloading grievous consequences on this beleaguered country and still keeping most developers pretty wary.
“This is a large crisis. In fact, if you’ve got a moment, it’s a 12-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour porterage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying ‘this is a large crisis’.”
– Sandy Chen, Panmure Gorden UK banking Analyst, quoted in London’s Evening Standard 12.12.08
All those years when Taghan could have done the Esplanade proud are gone and if you’ve got a moment, I have to say, Medina House is now, in the wake of the 31.5.13 fire, a ’12-storey crisis’, much of its interior surely now badly affected by the fire it took an hour and a half to put out. But it is still standing, sturdy, serene and in need of rescue. Compulsory purchase seems the only answer to put an end to the madness. Does Brighton & Hove City Council understand this?