Medina House goes to the Planning Cttee for decision on 8th March ‘Minded to Grant’

28.2.17…..The original saveHOVE response was logged as a Comment but the subject line was “Qualified Support” to reflect the fact that there is a dilemma here.  Even with amendments, there are persisting concerns  over height for residents behind Medina House.  Removal of a few inches of height has been enough for the Planners, however, and they are now taking it to Committee with a ‘Minded to Grant’ recommendation.
Read:  The Report to the Planning Committee
Read: Response on headed paper from Cllr Wealls in support of resident interests which is included in paperwork to the Planning Committee.  Regrettably his most considered response, which he submitted using the online comment box,  based on his visit to 13 Sussex Road, and detailing window/light issues is not in Committee papers, and is presumably buried within the anonymity of the summarised and unattributed responses under Objections, Support and Comments, as is the saveHOVE main response.
Read:   Cllr Weall’s considered response to the height amendments not included in committee papers.
Read:  The main saveHOVE response before the slight height reduction amendments. See photo of back areas that NEED to be visited by the Planning Committee on a site visit!
Read: The formal supplementary saveHOVE response to the Report to Committee and height amendments.  It is regrettable that the officer’s Report fails to acknowledge the considerable saveHOVE involvement with an entry in the report or to supply the addresses of other respondents in the normal way.  There is a mixed response among us about supporting/objecting to the proposal but saveHOVE has conferrred with many and actively assisted residents to make their case to ensure the light loss issue gets properly focussed assessment.  And it is the reason for making a Comment only response.  Numbers of those objecting, supporting, commenting ONLY, without addresses are given in the Report which means the Report does not reflect the level of response of those most affected by the proposal and represents a huge departure from the norm.
Read:  supplementary saveHOVE representations made through the council’s online facility: one and two.
BH2016/05893 was received by BHCC on 31.10.16 and could have been expected to be decided before now. The increase in building height (2.7 metres) and addition of height along the back wall adjoining Victoria Cottages (the old pool area), where 3 storeys of height are proposed, does not comply with the Medina House Planning Brief which indicates that any replacement building should be no higher than existing.  There is also the question of how necessary demolition is.  The Brighton Society representative on the Conservation Advisory Group is an architect who believes the building CAN be converted and retained but CAG per se voted to recommend approval of the demolition and newbuild house proposed.  The applicants insist it is not financially viable to retain it.  There are grumbles about white brick (cream actually, and it would match Marrocco colourwise) with murmurings about preferring red brick because the original Medina House (under the 1923 render) is red brick.  If not this proposal, then what?  It is a lovely bit of architecture, but.but, but!
 It was the excellently realised objection from 13 Sussex Road, drawing attention to anticipated light loss to rear area rooms, over and above existing light loss from the bulk of Medina House – especially when low sunlight casts deep winter shadow – that led to the small shavings from height in amendments.  The level of light loss suffered already is about a third…substantial.  Basement area windows are worse.  Victoria Cottages at the sea end are also affected, but the Committee Report does not acknowledge their rear patio garden area need for sunlight, only the public footpath access to main Victoria Cottages entrances.
Ground floor flats in Bath Court within Sussex Road opposite the back part of Medina House  also stand to lose light from the proposed main building’s roof height increase of over 2 metres (even after height reduction).

Bath Court itself and Benham Court beside Marrocco are of a height that blocks sunlight from both Victoria Cottages and Sussex Road to a significant extent so  sunlight from above Medina House and through the demolished pool area is all that properties immediately behind actually get.  In winter the sun is too low to give much sunlight.  Their creation resulted in Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages losing a third of their sunlight and created significant overshadowing there.

medina-house-view-from-victerr-with-benhamcrt

View south: sunlight access between Benham Court and Bath Court needed for Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages….Photo 3.3.17 by Pennymay Griffin

Back in the 1960-80’s period Hove Council wanted to towerblock the entire little Kings Esplanade area!!!  Instead of those 3 blocks of flats that did go up, they should have put in two or three more little terraced streets running north/south either side of Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages to create the same amount of housing without anyone losing light.  Space would not have been wasted on ugly car parks either.

On 15th February 2017 letters were sent to existing objectors informing of amendments to the proposal and giving a period of consultation up to 1.3.17  for comment on the height reduction.  And it is not huge. 500mm off the main building apex (half a metre), 420 mm comes off the 3 storied back wall of the existing old pool area and 220 mm comes off the chimney.  When Pennymay Griffin spoke with the planning officer she was given to understand that officers feel this reduction provides the “step down” to Victoria Cottages that they needed to see and, on balance, benefit now outweighs detriment.
But the light levels issue created by the heights proposed just does not go away.
The report does reflect a lot of the application negatives, so the Committee will hopefully wonder why it is recommended ‘Minded to Grant’ and be motivated to come along to 13 Sussex Road, the twitten and Victoria Cottages on a site visit before making their decision.
1.1.17 update…..The objection from Cllr Wealls which is currently missing from the online Agenda bundle for Committee (see above link to the objection) will be added to the Late List on Friday, ahead of the Committee meeting.  Neil Vowles is today preparing an article for The Argus.  Final objections have been lodged by the residents who would be most affected by light loss from the height level of the proposed newbuild which can be viewed on the Planning Register.  A site visit has been requested.  It is hoped that Pilbrow have a further potential concession in reserve (on height) which they can offer either before Planning or during the meeting.  And where are the demolition/logistical plans for the newbuild if they get consent?  Residents need to know.
Please note:  Neil Williams from 13 Sussex Road will speak for objectors on Wednesday at Planning.

Do have a look at the estimable Judy Middleton on the subject of Medina House and note this paragraph below taken from her blogpost.  Anyone supporting arguments to convert what is left of Medina House NOW, needs to understand the state it was already in, that cement render was required to stabilise it in 1923.  The bricks used in building it were very porous and did not last well.  Architects say they are just powder in places now.  So what of the original materials are reasonably salvageable?

“In 1916 the Borough Surveyor reported the external condition of the brick and terracotta was in a serious state of decay and it was too expensive to cut out and replace the defective parts. Therefore it would be better to render the whole surface with Portland cement; in 1918 sanction was obtained to borrow £800 in order to carry out the work. In the event, rendering did not take place until 1923 when Parsons & Sons agreed to undertake the work for £1,279.”

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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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