189 Kingsway – Ahead of the planning stage, Hyde seek consultation feedback from interested parties

16.03.17…..In February Hyde Housing hosted an exhibition of the latest design for what it wants to put on the site of the fallen Sackville Hotel.  Some of you went along to it.  The exhibition material was subsequently put online for further public feedback ahead of submitting its planning application in the spring.

CGI panorama which does not do justice to the difference between the cream painted, rendered San Remo terrace (special and not grey) with the proposal

Please use this link to access the site, have a bit of a look and click on the feedback link to give your view.  Below I copy a few images from the Hyde consultation site and provide the saveHOVE comment submitted.  But your own views should also go in.  What more needs to be considered?
OVERSHADOWING
Chief among considerations is overshadowing as the sun moves across the sky above the sea.  In winter especially, when the sun sets over the sea, light to Walsingham Road and Sackville Gardens will be impacted a lot.  Look at this section of a photo from the consultation page.

Shadow over Clarke Court from Girton House on the Kingsway

I reference this to show just how badly any building at all on this site is going to inevitably impact those to the north of it, as almost surely, the Sackville Hotel itself did.  But it was not a tall building.  This proposal is.
DESIGN
Here are the CGI images provided on the consultation site:

Kingsway view

Kingsway view with San Remo Terrace

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunate Sackville Gardens view 😦

 SOME saveHOVE CONCERNS
NB:  The Hove Seafront Residents Association view is that it still needs to lose height and numbers of flats.  Copied below is the comment submitted in support of their position.   There are only 25 possible parking spaces which Hyde can design in and so there should only be 25 flats MAX.  Sadly something like double that is proposed (though not specified on the consultation site).  You may wish to say something about that (which I forgot to).
“The design development has been productive of a much improved design that has interest, is not screaming “look at me” just for to be noisy, nor dull template-driven dross.  It strikes an appropriately happy note for the seafront.
On the downside, it upstages the San Remo terrace to the east a bit more than is visually comfortable with a certain ‘fatness’ of appearance and look of town cramming.
It is 2-3 storeys too high and one of the site context photos shows the clear overshadowing issue.  A heavy shadow falls over Clarke Court from Girton House – THINK how heavily the adjacent Sackville Gardens house would be overshadowed/sunlight-deprived and Clarke Court would lose even more sunlight and suffer even more overshadowing than at present.
The Sackville Gardens elevation betrays the lack of appropriate step down from the main block to the oddly tacked-on extra shorter bit at the back.  Why is there no continuity of design?  The step down could be achieved by knocking off two storeys.
Instead of the number of flats proposed being crammed in, a more mansion-block style arrangement providing larger 3-4 bed family flats would fit into this neighbourhood better and provide what the city needs – but anything that is to include children living there needs to make the balconies safe for them so they cannot fall off.
To repeat what was said at the workshop, the Kingsway is a busy, multi-lane  arterial highway which produces both extreme noise and particulates from vehicle exhausts.   Balconies need to be designed to mitigate this, and to provide shelter from extremely intrusive south-westerlies year round and a way for balconies to be useable space in winter.  Glass surrounds means the jumble of  balcony belongings being visible to passing traffic and neighbours in a less than attractive manner and this must be mitigated.
The latest design has a close to internal balcony appearance which helps with some privacy and verticals may break the wind a bit.  This needs to be demonstrated in application documents.”

 

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A Poetic Echo, allowing Medina House to live on through time – if Conditions of Consent are met

The Polly Samson (and Gilmour family home) redevelopment 

09.03.17…..Following on from yesterday’s Planning Committee meeting, which granted planning consent, subject to s106 Agreement being signed, and 19 Conditions being met, we now have to look at what lies ahead concerning Medina House, the site, the neighbours – because only one hurdle in the planning process of change has been cleared.  A great deal of work still lies ahead.
What has not been discussed at any stage and is not a Condition of Planning is how the replacement building will be addressed.  In the minds of locals it will continue to be Medina House and, if the plans are not changed (which they could be, more on that later), it will look like a poetic, ghostly echo in form.  The main building repeats much of the existing detail with the lost original east frontage brought back nearly identically to give the new amenity space some privacy and a front wall.   It is also part of the agreed plans that what remains of the original bespoke Royal Doulton tilework is retained on the retained north elevation on the east side.  A really serious echo, apart from contemporary twists like shuttering and the new east wing and the brickwork. Will this building just be 9 Kings Esplanade or will Polly Samson and David Gilmour want to retain the name “Medina House”?
Notoriously, however, once those first, immediate, planning consents are given, public attention and councillor attention ends.  Everyone goes away, leaving them to it.  Mistake.  Experience demonstrates that ‘carrots’ go into planning applications to sweeten and encourage consents which are later withdrawn via planning applications to alter or delete Conditions of Planning Consent or to tweak the design itself (see Condition 3 for this).  As well, uneasy problems that developers hope to keep out of the public consultation process, along with unfinished business that is expensive to organise and best left till you KNOW you have consent make up the inevitable list of Conditions, some of which prevent any start whatsoever until resolved.
So let’s look at the potential tweaks first.
The Design
Keb Garavito Bruhn, the Pilbrow & Partners architect for this project, sat a seat away to my left looking stressed, tense, concerned, focussed – even a little distraught – as councillors quietly, seriously, and joylessly considered his proposal on behalf of Polly Samson (the applicant).  Instead of gushing praise, he was hearing concern for neighbour impact and hearing officers admit that their recommendation was about benefit outweighing detriment to the conservation area, the townscape, heritage – but not neighbouring properties.  It would not have taken much to get a better response from all of them.  Five councillors turned it down because of neighbour impact and five accepted the outweighing argument and supported the plans. One abstained and one had (very unusually) not turned up.  This gave the decision to grant to just one person.  The Chair.
A project like this, for famous people, in a seriously prominent seafront position, with a design like this could have been more than grudgingly accepted.  And in my opinion, the design potentially merits nomination for an award within the architectural field.  It is a clear collaboration between Polly Samson and the architect and I’d like to hope they want a clean and happy all-round best of all worlds outcome and kudos.  It was achievable.
The five councillors who turned the application down echoed one another in saying if it came back with the east back wall and overall height reduced, they would be happy to support it.  So the project was never in danger of being a Taghan-style no-hoper.  Almost everyone wants this redevelopment to be a huge success.  Ball’s in the applicant’s court on this one now….
But, about that ‘carrots’ issue!  The east area back wall with the bespoke Royal Doulton tiles has the potential to be dropped.  The actual piece of wall must be retained in order to keep the tiles and to be incorporated into the overall structure.  It was one of the lovely reasons for wanting this proposal.  But they COULD come back with a design tweek  that demolishes and loses it on viability grounds.  See Condition 3.

The List of 19 Conditions

Please click here to see the Report to Committee containing the 19 Conditions at the front end.
Condition 3:  Any alteration to the design
This requires a planning application to be submitted and agreed.
Condition 7:  demolition and rebuilding
The council needs to see and approve contracts for demolition and rebuilding to ensure there would not be a vacant Sackville Hotel-style or i360-style demolished and blighted site left for years and years.  There seems not to have been any time limit from 2006, beyond planning consent that was deemed implemented in 2009, for i360; and the council and West Pier Trust were caught by the balls somewhat as Marks Barfield pleaded poverty and failed to get financial backing.  It is entirely possible that this blackmail situation was what led in a straight line to the PWLB financing, just to remedy the blight!!  So now the council are careful to bind developers with this condition.
Condition 8:  Materials
There is an ongoing concern and difficulty about  the creamy ‘chalk’ coloured white brickwork proposed for this replacement Medina House .  My own observations in formal response to the application for saveHOVE were echoed by Keb Garavito Bruhn in his speech to the Committee.  When Medina House was built, everything built along the Elsplanade was red brick.  Now nothing is.  Not even Medina House!   St. Aubyns Mansions was over-rendered and Medina House was cement rendered in 1923 because the Marine Environment destroyed cheap, porous brickwork so fast.  The newishbuild Bath Court and Benham Court are light buff yellow brick.  The non-original frontage of Marrocco is rendered and cream coloured. Plus,  the housing along Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages behind is also cream painted render for the most part.  So why would you want a dirty great red brick building stuffed between them all now???  It would be loud and garish.  And it would neither enhance the character of the area nor honour the memory of Medina House or do justice to the contemporary echo of Medina House…IMHO.
Condition 10:  the retained bespoke Royal Doulton tilework
How this is proposed to be effected within the redevelopment requires proofs and plans to be agreed by BHCC’s planning department to ensure it happens and happens well.  I hope and expect that Amy Frankie Smith, (new ‘fluxsurface’ website here)  an architectural terracotta specialist, whose Fellowship Paper on Medina House was read by Keb Garavito Bruhn, and who we brought to our consultation meeting with him and his team in August 2016, will be involved here. The fact this has been conditioned serves as a warning to the applicants that this part of their plan has importance and is expected to be realised.
Condition 11:  a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)
From the pov of residents this is almost the most important Condition of all.  How the hell are they going to actually DO this!!!!  The tight configuration and site access difficulties draw breath.  Plus there are queues in front of Medina House in summer for ice creams from Marrocco, use of his garden for dining and tourism along the Esplanade and the beach area itself to consider.  Demolition into the yard area could help contain the mess of demolition but the prevailing westerlies are going to blow the dust into Benham Court open windows and over the Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages area.  It would be a kindness of this could be a late autumn/winter demolition and newbuild to help with that.
RESIDENTS PLEASE READ THIS CONDITION IN THE REPORT AND BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO BE INVOLVED IN RESOLUTION AND MANAGEMENT OF THIS SITUATION.  I HOPE WE CAN EXPECT A PLANNING APPLICATION FOR THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT MITIGATION PLANS.
These are the Conditions for which your attention is most needed.  There is a Condition about car-free except for anyone holding a disabled Blue Badge which involves an agreement that applicants have to sign but this is not an issue as they have parking close by anyway.  It means the house is car-free if it gets sold on.
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Angsty Planning committee split! Medina House is approved on Chair’s Casting Vote

08.03.17…..How ironic.  The for/against public consultation split was duplicated at the meeting of the Planning Committee.  Nevertheless, an actual judgment had to be made by them.  Five voted for, five voted against, one did not show up and one abstained.  So the Chair’s casting vote had it.
Concerns mostly hinged on the 3-storey east wing and its unneighbourly impact on residents directly behind as well as just how much heritage value was salvageable in any retained conversion attempt and at what financial cost; and these issues were thoroughly explored by councillors. The lack of financial detail to demonstrate the unviability of retaining the existing structure was set against and beside the structural decay information provided by the applicants.  Concern for Sussex Road and Victoria Cottages light provision was considerable.
Sitting beside me were the Pilbrow architect (and partner at Pilbrow & Ptners), Keb Garavito Bruhn, and his PR team.  The victory should have made the architect happy but he left looking tense and unhappy.  Had the application been refused, a further small concession on heights given, and the application returned for a second vote, there would have been relief for residents and near unanimous support from councillors.  Instead….everyone left looking upset.  Including the winner!  Of course the applicants now have a list of 19 Conditions to fulfil so its not over.  Brickwork remains a bit of an issue.
The council officers said they placed reliance on Local Plan HE8, item C to underpin their support.  Councillors were minded to explore this a bit.  The benefit is to the townscape, the conservation area and some retention of heritage.  But it was acknowledged there is no benefit to existing residents and some negative impact.

HE8    Demolition in conservation areas

Proposals should retain buildings, structures and features that make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area. The demolition of a building and its surroundings, which make such a contribution, will only be permitted where all of the following apply:

a)     supporting evidence is submitted with the application which demonstrates that the building is beyond economic repair (through no fault of the owner / applicant);

b)     viable alternative uses cannot be found; and

c)     the redevelopment both preserves the area’s character an would produce substantial benefits that would outweigh the building’s loss.

Three of the Planning Committee Members were absent.  Two sent in substitutes and one was a no-show.  On the Tory side, Cllr Jayne Bennett did not arrive.  Cllr Lynda Hyde sent Cllr Dee Simson to sub in her place. On the Labour side, Cllr Inkpen-Leissner sent in Cllr Kevin Allen to sub for him.

How the Planning Committee Councillors  spoke and voted

Greens Cllr Leo Littman was firmly in favour and voted with the recommendation to        Grant.    Cllr Phelim MacCafferty voted in favour, after consideration of why it was not a Listed bldg.
Labour:   Cllr Kevin Allen did not utter one word at any point in the meeting. He abstained.   Ward Cllr Clare Moonan voted against, but would vote for if there was height reduction.   Cllr Adrian Morris voted against, with concerns about neighbour impact and height.   Cllr Russel Moye voted against, but would vote for if there was height reduction.  Cllr Penny Gilbey voted for it.  Chair, Cllr Julie Cattell understood the 900mm plinth need and supported it.  Voted for and her casting vote for the application decided it.
Conservatives:  Cllr Carol Theobald was quite the cheerleader on this and voted for the application.  Cllr Dee Simson, subbing for Cllr Hyde need to see more on the financial viability issue to be confident, and lower east wing height and could not support just because better than the previous attempts.  She voted against.  Cllr Joe Miller voted against but would vote for it with proof of repair/restoration unviability on cost grounds, need to reduce east wing and depth of the 900mm privacy and flood mitigation plinth.
The meeting was webcast live on 8th March, uploaded 9th March (incomplete and in need of sorting), full version including Medina House expected to be online by 10th March.

ARCHIVED WEBCAST

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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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The 17 and 18 Seafield Rd sub-divisions into anything are, were and remain ILLEGAL

23.2.17…..It is surprising to read the Decision and Report concerning applications for Certificates of Lawfulness to turn a load of bedsits with shared facilities into self contained units (for possible use by West Pier Project clients); surprising too that it took so long for the Refusals to come (with a twist to the tale!).
Each of these two addresses was already sub-divided into 10 bedsits each (with both shared kitchen and bathroom use for some and just shared bathrooms for others.  Application  BH2016/06234 for 17 and BH2016/0621 for 18 sought to make everything self-contained.
Just one problem:  the existing bedsits were there entirely illegally – no consent to sub-divide and no HMO licence!!  According to a Seafield Road resident these two addresses had people living in them up to Christmas and the buildings have for at least 4 weeks now been undergoing renovation work AS PER THE NOW REFUSED APPLICATIONS TO SELF CONTAIN.  They have to stop, apply for retrospective planning consent of some kind and residents should immediately seek a stop by reporting the ongoing building works to Enforcement.

The two jawdropping Reports which refuse the applications are more or less identical and devastating to read.  Here is the one for 18!

And here is the Decision Notice for 18, signed today and placed online here!

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It is worth just adding this little note on “sui generis” uses as it is relevant to this situation.  It comes from https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Sui_generis_use_class_in_planning

Sui generis use class in planning

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order categorises uses of land and buildings. Developments may not be used for purposes that are not within the use class for which they received planning permission. Changing the use of a development from one class to another may require planning permission, although changes of use may be permitted without the need for a planning application for certain allowable uses (for example changing a restaurant into a shop – see permitted development).
Sui generis’ buildings are those that do not fall within any particular use class. The Latin term ‘sui generis‘ means ‘of its own kind’.
Sui generis buildings include:
  • Theatres.
  • Houses in multiple paying occupation.
  • Hostels providing no significant element of care.
  • Scrap yards.
  • Petrol filling stations and shops selling and / or displaying motor vehicles.
  • Retail warehouse clubs.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Launderettes.
  • Dry cleaners.
  • Taxi businesses.
  • Amusement centres.
  • Casinos.
A material change of use from a sui generis use, or to a sui generis use, will require planning permission.
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