15 September 2013…..The Hove Recreation Ground is not often the focus of planning or conservation interest these days. A large chunk of it is leased by the Rugby Club and most of the attention, park-wise, goes to Hove Park the other side of Hove Park Gardens. The Rec lost its public toilet in the budget cuts this year – with the Rugby Club offering use of theirs (but only when they are open). Rugby and dog walkers is the Rec’s image these days.
And sitting forlorn and abandoned on the south-east corner of the Rec is this cottage.
Meet Leah Keating everyone, and her lovely daughter. Leah is going to bring it back into use as a cafe with outdoor terraced seating front and sides, seating inside & a disabled-access loo at the back.
Leah has secured a 12-year lease on it from Brighton & Hove City Council. It is an unfairly short lease in view of what she is going to have to do to bring it back into use, really, as a considerable sum will be needed to restore this dear little building. It took a battering in the 1980’s hurricane and some of its’ terracotta roof tiles are in disarray; but it is a sturdy little mess, worth saving, and Leah plans to make a cafe of it. Kitchen in one room, punters in t’other with outdoor terrace seating front and sides. She is a brave lady who wants to do right by this little building. And she would like to have a children’s play space close by.
In conversation at the last planning committee meeting, Cllr Jayne Bennett was made aware of this development on her patch. She said that the Rugby Club had gone into whether or not to take it on and decided against only about a year ago. And Jayne says there has long been a demand for children to have a play space on the Rec. There is certainly space below the Rugby Club boundary posts and close to the cottage to allow for something near the south-eastern gate. At the encounter in City Direct, Leah was advised to seek out the ward councillors and to enlist their help in getting BHCC to agree to play space. Jayne Bennett, in particular, has the historic knowledge Leah can draw on and hopefully they will work together on this aspect of the plans for the cottage. It is going to matter. Alternatively, might a sponsor come forward to do this?
A few days after meeting Leah in City Direct, whilst also in that area photographing Hove Park’s depot and Miniature Railway, the opportunity was taken to also check out the cottage and photo-explore it for an article here. You can see the job of external restoration that Leah is taking on in the gallery below. There is a fireplace inside that will be a treat in winter!
Making it possible to get the photos of both sites done in lovely morning light was saveHOVE supporter Neil Lewis, one of the Rugby Club’s Vice Presidents. Neil has a chimney pot in his garden which he reckons is more in keeping with the cottage chimney and building than the one on it now. He is happy to give it to Leah, for this project, if she wants to have it. In time a good working relationship will hopefully develop between Leah and the Rugby Club as a whole that sees mutual benefit and a very much improved park.
What saveHOVE will expect….. Retained use of the terracotta roof tiles for a start. Neil estimates £6,000 to pay for the roof to be sorted. And a close-by children’s area from BHCC is needed. A little line of swings could be fitted along the southern pathway margin for starters – quite decoratively too. Not a full-on playground – just a place for kids to go when Mum and Dad are at the Rugby and customers are chilling at Leah’s cafe. And no ugly, chavvy, cheapening pvc windows, out of character with the park and cottage….stout timber all the way. The outdoor seating area should be simple. I seem to recall decking in drawings, but paving, crazy or otherwise, would be less fussy, more in keeping with the park and more easily maintained and accessed by the elderly, and disabled . Small Batch Coffee has weird, weird, awkward, offputting and uneasy decking in front of its Goldstone Villas outlet that jars visually and physically every time it is passed and walked round. Feels like a barrier to entry! Bad feng shui! It is hard to justify or make it look appropriate at ground level anywhere. Should child-use areas be achieved, a gate may aso be needed at that south-eastern corner so tinies can be prevented from dashing out into the road..
Question: Can Hove Rec have some of the Park House public art s106 cash for a line of swings? For kids and adults too? Do Love A Swing! I can see it; can you?
There is a little shed behind and to the side of the cottage. On the day of our visit, Neil thought someone was in the shed. Certainly it is known that people are using that secluded back area, screened by bushes and trees by Shirley Drive and at the sides. There were stepping stones within the fallen leaves underfoot at the back. And painted graffiti on the brickwork. Have a look at what we found.
An application has been submitted, and has a planning reference number – which means it should be registered and out for consultation within the next week or two. Isn’t it nice to have a planning application that can actually be promoted and supported…..for a change!
27.9.13 Please note that the planning application is now registered and out for consultation. The fireplace appears to be lost in the conversion drawings. Sad that. The application form does not acknowledge all the greenery you can see closing over the cottage (which it should, as it is to be removed for decking and roofing and building a disabled loo at the back). External lighting is to be installed but no details were provided, and should be, because of wildlife, dark winter afternoons, the rugby club and how they would affect use of the field. Timber windows, clay (terracotta) roof tiles, masonry brickwork all as is. ‘Harris’ (Arris?) rail fences with timber decking….hmmmm. Brick, stone or similar paving would be more in keeping and need less maintenance (yes?) And why the railing need? Or fencing? Email your own views ASAP to email@example.com and by mid October latest.