The Engineerium

The Engineerium

On Wednesday, 8th June, 2011, the Planning Committee sat to determine the Listed and newbuild applications for added workshops & a new glass and steel exhibition hall to be constructed at The Engineerium at the north end of Hove Park.

There are considerable parking, transport access issues concerning museum and any added future use of the British Engineerium as an events venue for things like weddings (as its owner is likely to want to do, given he does this with Stanmer House) was not catered for in the planning paperwork, in the case files or report to committee. 

The planning officer’s recommendation was ‘Minded to Grant’.

COMMITTEE DECISION:  Deferral

The Committee had requested the Council ecologist to be present and it was said he had been unable to attend. 

Following representations from Labour Cllrs Bob Carden and Leigh Farrow, a deferral was sought in order to allow the Council ecologist to be present to take questions from councillors and for him to prepare a report providing a greater level of information concerning the the badgers.  They objected to being asked to take more on trust than is appropriate.  Cllr Carden considered that the badgers were being “brushed under the carpet”.  Ability to comply with Conditions 7 and 8 in order to implement any planning consent would appear to be in question.

Valerie’s comment:  Natural England requires a distance of 20 metres from badger setts be given for excavation work and the application only offers 10 metres which I question can be right.  This makes Conditions 7 & 8 unimplementable.

I have asked the council to consider a land swap which would leave the badgers in situ and as part of Hove Park whilst allowing part of the adjacent scrub nursery/depot to be built on instead.  A quid pro quo development agreement between Mike Holland (Engineerium) and BHCC  involving council gardeners, security provision and a land swap would benefit all concerned and provide a mediating strip of land between the Engineerium and Hove Park so that buildings do not abutt the park and wildlife is safeguarded and left in peace.

All the cards are not on the table.  If Mike Holland intends to apply for a use class change from just a museum,  and an events licence for weddings and other reception-type events (which he absolutely should do because it would be amazing for the economy and for residents and allow him to recoup expenses & make a return on his investment), then the question of where the punters could park becomes deeply serious.

The officer indicated that visitor numbers in future would be as in the past…..bunkum!  I don’t buy that, even it is never used for more than museum purposes.

The fact that toilet facilities and a restaurant will be available (they weren’t before) means that,  just like Hove Museum, it will (and should) become a destination-for-lunches venue as well as, or instead of, being  just a museum to visit.  Helps with financial viability and overheads and it would be nice for residents.  There WILL be an increase in visitor numbers.  No question.

The scrub nursery/depot has a covenant on it owned by the Stanford Estate restricting its use as parkland.  The Council paid them to allow an indoor bowls structure to be added and that amended covenant restriction is in place and would need to be changed.  Watch this space!

A subsequent planning application got past all this and was given approval.