Designed-in conflicts of interest: the Holy Trinity Church pharmacy and GP surgery proposal

BH2014/04360 and BH2014/04361

Conversion to a GP surgery with its main entrance and …*alarm bells*…  an unfortunate newbuild pharmacy – both opening onto busy Goldstone Villas

20 January 2015…..Since 2008 here has been some secrecy and stalemate around the future of Holy Trinity Church in Hove, which occupies a prominent site, bordered by Blatchington Road to the south, Goldstone Villas to the west and Eaton Villas to the north.  A line of dwellings fronting Denmark Villas runs behind the eastern part of its Listed boundary wall.
The Church Commissioners first wish was demolition and getting their Housing Association (Hyde) to put up a huge flats complex right up to pavement’s edge.  That was seen off before it became a planning application.  Since then, all murmurings (and reasons for refusal to agree to Enforcement action over the collapsed wall section) have been of conversion to a doctor’s surgery, although some efforts were made to explore the possibility of converting it to school use.  In 2013, the Coptic Christian Church, based in Davigdor Road, was actively seeking to expand into a second church to handle its increasing congregation needs.  And Holy Trinity was of interest to their Committee.  Sadly, this seemed not to find favour with the Church Commissioners who have been clear they don’t want it back in Church use.  Appalling really.  And not mentioned in the marketing document for this application.
The developers for the GP surgery plan had fallen away and the price tag was just £750,000 I learned at the time from an email that came into saveHOVE informing us that it was back on the market and wondering if efforts could be made to get it for a school.  But perhaps the Church Commissioners already had the replacement developer in place and just did not want to talk about it.
History and Listing Info
Designed by James Woodman in the ‘Lombardo-Gothic’ or ‘Early English’ style, and built in 1863/4, Holy Trinity stood, loud and proud, in an open field.  A low flint wall was built around the grounds in about 1866.  The Annual Church Report of 1880 recorded the need “to raise the height of the wall on the north and west sides to prevent so much rubbish being thrown over”.   Look carefully, and you can just about see the join.  Various additions continued.   In 1912 it gained its outside wall pulpit, over near the vicarage house on the Blatchington Road side.  These are a rarity apparently. 
On the Eaton Villas side, the church hall went up in 1952 according to the Heritage documentation within the planning application.  And the long wooden building on the same side was a scout hut once upon a long ago. 
English Heritage gave the Holy Trinity Church building a Grade 2 Listing on 2nd November, 1992.  The flint wall was given its own, separate, Grade 2 listing on the same date. As there are two listed ‘buildings’ concerned, perhaps there should be two listed planning applications and not just the one (BH2014/04361)

So what are the problems…. 

The Red Line

The plans do not use the whole site.  The red line is drawn along the northern wall of the church, excluding the scout hut and church hall area on the Eaton Villas sideThere is not one single word of explanation within any document in the planning application to explain this. Why?  What IS planned for the scout hut and church hall area of the site? 

A newbuild ‘pillbox’ Pharmacy

Positioned in Goldstone Villas, beside and between the public toilet block and the church, a single-storey pharmacy would replace a large length of the existing listed flint wall and the mature and gracious fig tree.  Railings would then replace even more of the wall to give an open aspect because the west-side Church entrance is to be opened up and to have a porch extension added to create the main entrance and access from Goldstone Villas.

Who is not consulted that should be consulted and WHY!  Taxis, Boots, Bus Co., car drivers using Goldstone Villas…..those in love with the fig tree….etc.

1.  The planning application sees the bus stops in Goldstone Villas, outside the proposed entrance area as a plus.  I wonder if the worry about use of their stopping area to drop off and collect pharmacy customers/patients would concern the bus drivers.  There are two bus stops and buses often occupy the entire length of the block from Blatchington Road to Clarendon Villas….or need to.  Indeed their priority presence makes a major mockery of the dolt-headed, BHCC-installed, raised and painted “roundabout” that suddenly appeared a year or so back.  Northbound cars can’t drive through a bus in order to actually use it, so everyone goes over it.  Buses go over it too if cars are parked dead ahead!  And the white paint has all but worn off it now.  Would arriving and picked-up patients park in the bus stops area?  The bus company is not a consultee at this time. 
2.  The planning application sees the taxi rank in Goldstone Villas, outside the proposed entrance area as a plus.  The taxi rank is road-marked and reserved for taxi parking only from the public toilets area right down to the big tree yards from Blatchington Road.  People already feel free to park there, to use it for pickup and waiting for people.  Can you imagine how this would be ramped up by arriving and departing pharmacy customers and patients?  One needs only look at how the pickup area at the Church Road Tesco is abused by people parking on it to see the conflict of interests that putting the GP entrance THERE creates.  Worse:  imagine a fully parked-up rank blocking the access if a disabled person is being dropped off and double parking happens.  The taxi firms have not been consulted at this time. 
Cars travelling north up Ventnor Villas just S-bend into Blatchington Road and up into Goldstone Villas in one smooth, unbraked move if they can.  The pedestrian refuge was installed about 18 months ago to deal with the threat posed to pedestrians crossing Goldstone Villas.  So there is that, the dippy roundabout, a block-length of buses/stops and a block-length of taxi rank too.  A lot going on.  Is it wise to add a GP surgery entrance and a pharmacy to the mix? 
3.  And about that pharmacy!  Boots is about 30 yards away in George Street, is anchoring George Street and its pharmacy section is its busiest area.  They have not been consulted at this time about how it might affect their ability to justify staying in George Street if there is to be a brand new rival pharmacy so close by.
In Blatchington Road there is an independent chemist.  It is planned that HE is to go into the Holy Trinity pharmacy, he tells me.  But because no increase in pharmacy provision is allowed, a branch somewhere would have to close to allow the Holy Trinity pharmacy to open.  And it won’t be Blatchington Road that closes.  Somewhere else would close and that pharmacist would come to Blatchington Road.  So THREE pharmacies in close proximity.  How would this affect viability of all three of them?  Losing Boots would be a serious blow to George Street’s retail ‘offer’.  The duty manager has been informed of this application now and hopefully a response will be lobbed in.

So:  Fig tree uprooted, taxi drivers/rank compromised, Boots compromised, Goldstone Villas gets a little more crazy, the proposed future use of the Eaton Villas side of the church grounds is likely to be developed for – say – housing by the Church, quite separately, and we get a pharmacy in Goldstone Villas that nobody needs but which the applicants insist is required for their plans to be viable.  The Eaton Villas side should not be excluded from plans!  And we need chiropodists, dentists, physio and etc. services which could go there to make the project ‘viable’. 

Be sure to make two responses:  BH2014/04361 is the Listed Building application and BH2014/04360 is the Full Planning application. 

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About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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