Please Note: the application written about below was withdrawn. Replacement application BH2014/03742 submitted November 2014 with the proposed open northside walk way enclosed. As at 20.4.15 the application remains live and awaits determination following deferment from one planning committee meeting. Information from Rox Dance Studio has led to request for further noise data.
Unless there is a trained set of councillors ready and appointed the day of the election, and in possession of an agenda they feel they have had time to deal with, it may not be possible to hold the May planning meeting less than a week later which suggests this application cannot expect to be back at Committee before June 2015
4 August 2014…..This application seeks to put 9 flats, in a line, down the centre of the roof of the old Dubarry perfume factory – now the Hove Business Centre, with a Fonthill Road address in the planning register. This photo from 1931 does not show it, but there is already roof development at the far eastern end by Hove Park Villas. This application would tidy up the snaggle-toothed roofline if approved, but bring problems too.
Fonthill Road/Newtown Road
A short terrace of housing abutts the western end of the old Dubarry factory – now Hove Business Centre in Fonthill Road. These are in the foreground of the photo above. These dwellings would not see a set back flat above them. It would be quite close to the edge and increase an already overbearing cliff-face appearance at the end of their very tiny gardens and reduce sunlight further. Sunlight to gardens is blocked from the west and east and relies on a brief passage of the sun from the south for any sunlight.
Newtown Road housing already loses a lot of sunlight from the south, especially in winter due to the presence of the Dubarry factory. Is it reasonable to ask residents to increase the building height any further?
Dubarry north-side walkway
The new roof-flats would be accessed from the ground up a lift/stairs and a communal walkway is proposed to the north side facing the line of Newtown Road housing you can see in this aerial photo. The Walkway is a problem. Like those council estates that had them in the 1960’s, there is the assumption it is OK to have people walking close to and past your windows to get to their flats. It is a privacy issue. Worse, in order to deal with the Newtown Road overlooking, overshadowing of housing there, the flats are set back from the edge and the walkway wall is made of glass panels with gaps in them.
Obscured banding on sheets of toughened glass with gaps between them do not ‘feel’ safe or one bit nice for Newtown Road residents to look out onto at such close range. As you can see from the aerial photo, many of the Newtown Road houses have dormer windows in roof spaces where extra living space was created. This gives an eye-level view both ways to/from proposed Dubarry roof flats.
Dubarry southside terrace
Between the set-back flats and the trackside roof edge, developers propose to provide private patio/terracing. But with dividers up between the flats. Minimal privacy. The drawings show this behind the flouncy decorative rooftop area which gives the lie to how hidden these terraces would be along the length of the building. No drawings show edge treatment or safety height barriers either side of this decorative roof detail. The building and any new roof treatment is close to and visible from Hove Station platforms and the walkway over the tracks.
Brighton and Hove City Council are under immense pressure to find housing opportunities in every nook and cranny of the city. This is both a nook and a cranny. But it is also town cramming to put nine flats along the rooftop of this building which can only be managed with roof edge areas being used for access and amenity in a way that compromises amenity for any new residents – violating QD27 of the Local Plan. Looking at a planning application requires looking not just at impact on the area but also impact on potential residents.
One design change which has been suggested involves enclosing the proposed open walkway (making of it a hallway with no windows), making the flats single aspect from the south, but with added rooflights. It remains to be seen how the planning dept will deal with this suggestion which went into a response from the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum. It makes more sense, gets rid of overlooking, but loses the set-back value that mitigates overshadowing fears. It could still present an overbearing appearance.
The target date for a decision is 20th August 2014. Consultation responses can go in and be supplemented up to the Friday noon of the week before the application is scheduled to be determined at the Planning Committee. It is not currently scheduled and whilst the formal period of consultation has passed deadline, this is still a live application under consideration. Do have a look at documentation online via the Planning Register at http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk and see what you think.
The Dubarry Building in a wider context.