Significant developments

There are a number of key developments being discussed and developed in Hove and Portslade. The Society follows these closely, and sets up working groups to offer considered comment. If members are interested in becoming involved in these please contact our Chair, Helmut Lusser

Below are some of the major applications or development proposals we have commented on in the past.

Rampion wind farm

Hove Civic Society welcomes the decision announced on 16.7.14 to give consent to the Rampion wind farm project, which will generate 2.1 bn kWh pa of carbon free electricity to keep the lights on in Sussex from 2017, at a cost to consumers of between 12-16 p/kWh. This is a good step forward, but will not be enough in itself to meet the government’s target of providing 15% of all energy use, including transport, to be renewable by 2020, rising to 34% by 2030. Other carbon saving renewable energy projects are therefore also required.

Shoreham gas fired power station faces Rampion across the sea, and throws away 20% more energy than Rampion will generate, namely 2.5 bn kWh pa of hot water at about 30 degrees C. These carbon emissions could be saved if the station was converted to Combined Heat and Power / District Heating (CHP/DH) by removing a few rows of turbine blades to increase the temperature to 90 degrees C. The station could then keep the radiators hot in 100,000 buildings (150,000 homes) from Worthing to Kemp Town at a cost of less than 7p/kWh. The energy efficiency of the station would then rise from about 50% to over 90%.

This technology has been practised in Northern Continental Europe for a century, where most power stations are over 90% efficient by feeding their waste heat into a district heating network, keeping the radiators hot as well as the lights on in their towns. For example, in Denmark practically every urban building is already connected to a district heating network, enabling the Danish government to legislate to become zero carbon by 2050. 

This CHP/DH project would save carbon emissions at half the cost of Rampion (less than 7p/kWh compared to 12-16p/kWh)  It is also more  economically viable (less cost per kWh to consumers) than power from Hinckley Point C nuclear power station, estimated to cost 9.5p/kWh. It has less environmental impact than fracking for gas at Balcombe. It would also create more local jobs, with zero environmental impact once the pipes are laid in the streets, and have an economic life of more than a century. 

It is therefore the most cost-effective  and environmentally friendly way of saving carbon emissions in Sussex, so should be included in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s, (DECC’s) energy policy. It should be professionally evaluated in a pre-feasibility study (preferably by continental consulting engineers who are used to this technology) at an estimated cost of £40,000.

Download press release (PDF)

Shoreham Harbour

The draft Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan has been out on consultation. This closed on the 24th April.

There is much in the plan which we support but we have asked the planners to give stronger emphasis to their notion that the harbour area should become a hub for renewable energy. We have suggested that a new section concentrating on energy is inserted in the plan and that this contains a number of policies that relate to how new development could bring about a higher level of renewable energy generation on site.

We have also made the point that the waste heat from the power stations (Shoreham Power Station and Edgeley Green Power Station) should be harnessed as far as possible.

Our representations build on what we said in the context of the Brighton and Hove City Plan and the resulting modifications which we agreed with the City Council.

You can find the Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan here: http://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/media/media,121462,en.pdf .

Click here for our full response (Word, 175.5KB).

I 360

It was with great relief and pleasure that we received the news that the Council has agreed the £36M loan facility for the I 360. We believe that the I 360 will be an iconic statement on the seafront to complement the many exciting developments that make Brighton and Hove an international attraction. Apart from tidying up this part of the seafront and being a fine piece of architecture in itself it will provide an important additional attraction to Brighton and Hove. That means more footfall, more turnover, more business, which is exactly what we need to support the local economy.

Brighton Hippodrome

MIDDLE STREET / SHIP STREET, BRIGHTON - BH2013/04348

Works to Brighton Hippodrome and Hippodrome House to form an eight screen cinema (retention of Use Class D2) and four associated café/restaurant units (Use Class A3/A4)

i) Cinema with 8 screens and a total of 1,012 seats;

ii) Four restaurant / café units with a total GFA of around 2,420m²;

iii) New A1 retail uses (including a new unit on Ship Street) with a total GFA of around 1,287m²; and

iv) B1 offices above the proposed retail unit with a GFA of 394m².

Hove Civic Society was one of the groups of the city’s conservation advisory group being given a guided tour of the Hippodrome and a detailed explanation of development proposals late in 2013.

We welcome the proposed rescue of the hippodrome and fully support the proposal. This is an important part of the city’s heritage and the works proposed are now urgently needed to prevent further decay of what is one of the most stunning domed structures in the city.

We are convinced that it is unlikely that any public sector funding will become available to fund a restoration of the site or its use as a theatre and it therefore requires an imaginative development package to facilitate restoration.

We believe that the integrated package proposed by the developers is very imaginative and will make the site viable again. We also believe that the proposed footfall arising from the proposed cinemas and restaurants will be not much different from the visiting numbers which used to occur when the site operated first as a circus then theatre and finally as a bingo hall.

We believe that the additional cinema block is well integrated and will not adversely impact on the surroundings of the site. We are very much taken by the potential for the main dome to be restored to a theatre at some time in the future should economic circumstances allow this. This potential reversibility of the changes in levels to the floor of the domed structure makes the proposal doubly attractive. 

Whereas one could question the design of the proposed entrance and the new building corner Duke Street we would accept this as a small price to pay for an overwhelmingly positive proposal.

We would urge the Planning Committee to grant permission for this proposal without delay.

Hove station footbridge

The committee supports the need for access improvements to Hove station footbridge and welcomes this sketch design produced by local Architect David Kemp: open PDF (1.85MB)

PortZed

The Committee of Hove Civic Society have given careful consideration to the revised proposals for the PortZed development (BH2012/04044). We support the application for the following main reasons.

Function and Position

We see this end of Kingsway as both the entry point to the City from the West and the Eastern gateway to the Shoreham Harbour development area. As a mixed residential and commercial development it would be an appropriate part of this interface, enabling some residents to live close to where they are employed, and providing continuity with the new homes planned in the development area.  To quote a statement from the developers, PortZed is designed as a ‘demonstrator mixed use scheme’.

Design

Whereas we see PortZed as providing continuity between the Western end of Kingsway and the Harbour area, there are local residents who object to the proposals, even as modified. Taking the City as a whole, there has always been diversity in the design of buildings, even along Kingsway there are buildings of six to eight storeys in height close to two storey detached and semi-detached houses. However, PortZed would be built on the South side of the A259, changing the outlook towards the sea from the houses on the North side of the road at this point. We have looked closely at the Daylight and Sunlight Report commissioned from Schroedersbeg and note that residents of homes in the vicinity of the development would continue to receive daylight and sunlight at above the recommended minimum levels. The six blocks that would constitute PortZed above the level of Kingsway have been sympathetically designed to allow eight foot wide viewing corridors between them so, there would still be sea views and, it can be argued, they would be an improvement over the existing outlook towards the current buildings and brown-field site. We feel that the ‘shock of the new’ might soon be replaced by a feeling of vibrancy in the vicinity of the development – especially for future generations of residents.

We have also studied the designs of the proposed residential units and note that their floor areas exceed the Council’s recommended minimum dimensions for public sector housing, a standard that is not always adhered to in contemporary new buildings. We like the provision of private outdoor spaces that can be closed in when necessary, in addition to the pleasant public outdoor spaces at ground level. We support the combination of forms of tenure for residents and the fact that there would be some 3-bed apartments for small families. The orientation of the blocks has been designed for maximum light and ventilation. PortZed has the potential to become a pleasant living environment, with easy access to amenities, work and schooling.

We also appreciate the overall design with the Kingsway elevation presenting as a symmetrical arrangement of buildings of medium height, with the roof lines in a smooth curve.

Sustainability

The aim of Level 6 sustainability seems to us to be realistic given the significant features built into the design: communal biomass boilers, PV solar and thermal panels, maximisation of natural light and ventilation, and the installation of energy efficient systems appliances and lighting. Sustainable transport to and from the location is also a possibility, in line with the City’s transport policies. The developers have plans to minimise any additional transport for delivering the fuel for the boilers.

Hove Square

Plans for the land around Hove Station reveal a development of 380 residential units, office space, a cinema, an exhibition space, a public square, and retail units. Architect's drawings and an opportunity to provide feedback are available on the Hove Square website (external link).

Hove Civic Society are putting together a working group of local residents to examine and comment on this development as it progresses. If you would like to be involved please contact our Chair, Helmut Lusser.

* All work on this scheme is currently suspended *

Initial comments on Hove Square development proposals from HCS:

1. We generally welcome the proposal and can see that it has many advantages. The mix of residential and job creation proposals is positive and we believe that the residential blocks have a substantial design merit.

2. Size and mass probably right – height of buildings need to be thought through.

3. Volume of shopping 2 X 40,000 Sq ft – this seems large – especially as there is a strong need for housing and employment for the site. Restaurants and cafes should be for food consumption on the premises only, and not takeaways with their associated litter. Licensed retail should be strictly limited.

4. Car parking provision should be looked at very carefully – we believe that some co-management with the station car park could be advantageous. Generally we believe that visitors should be encouraged to use rail and buses to the site – however we can see an argument for the car parking becoming one of the parking facilities for access to the city – with buses providing park and ride type facilities. This would be most appropriate at weekends.

5. Link to railway footbridge important. The footbridge should be improved and made accessible with lifts at either end.

6. Link to George Street should be made explicit and Goldstone Villas visually improved (wider pavements and tree planting)

7. We believe the scheme needs to cater for the replacement of affordable studio and community space. In addition we would support a balance between performance and cinema space that allows a good proportion of spaces for live performances.

Toad’s Hole Valley

Several members of the Society have recently raised concerns about the development of Toad’s Hole Valley (external link), and requested a re-examination of the Society’s position. The committee welcomes all input from members and are keen to discuss this issue further. The following provides a background to the current HCS committee position, and calls for greater involvement of concerned parties.

Last year the Council’s local development plan was challenged by both the government inspector and HCS. We criticised the lack of decent standards for proposed new dwellings, and the government appointed inspector suggested that the housing figures were too low. The Council then produced a number of options, which developed into the City Plan.

The housing section of the options paper published by the Council in November 2011 proposed three options with various levels of dwelling numbers. The Council’s preferred option was for a housing supply of around 11,000 units and included the privately-owned area of Toad’s Hole Valley. A lower option would have been challenged for being inadequate, and a higher option would have been difficult to achieve. Following the November 2011 consultation exercise, and much debate and reflection within working groups of HCS, the committee also supported the middle option. We continued to discuss the issues within committee groups and followed through with our comments (Word, 192.5KB) on the full draft of the City Plan in June 2012.

In reaching this decision we were mindful of the need for new housing, the lack of an alternative large site, and the restrictions on city expansion following the creation of the National Park. In our response we suggested that the imagery of any development in Toad’s Hall Valley should be that of a Garden City at the fringes of the city and we support a strong focus on One Planet Living.

We were and are still concerned that the city has no Local Development Plan Framework that would place restrictions on development in the face of the National Planning Framework. If this site is rejected another area would have to be found which could accommodate a similar number of houses, and city planners have been unable to do this. Because the national planning legislation insists on new dwellings being provided, without an alternative and without the local plan we face the threat of uncontrollable development throughout the city.

HCS have suggested that a working party (as part of the Planning Advisory work of HCS) is set up to try to influence how the development shapes up and we would very much welcome participants in such a group. Please contact Helmut Lusser for more details. HCS fully intends to contribute robust, considered comments as the plans develop and provide careful scrutiny as we move towards a public hearing on the City Plan in about a year’s time. HCS works for the whole of Hove and we therefore owe it to all residents to take a responsible and well-argued approach, providing answers to difficult and key citywide questions on housing development and environmental conservation.

We are aiming to establish a working party to bring together the architects, local councillors and interested residents. Please check our website regularly for updates.

King Alfred site

The redevelopment of the King Alfred Leisure Centre site has been under discussion for several years. The site is owned by Brighton and Hove Council and in the draft City Plan (external link) they announced a strategic allocation "to ensure the replacement of sports facilities and to provide a mixed use of development including 400 residential units".

There is currently no planning brief available from the Council, but several ideas for the site have been discussed in the local media.

Recent ideas for the site include (external links):

 

BH2011/02886
Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton
Approved

The proposal is to demolish all the hospital buildings north of Eastern Road and south of the existing Children’s Hospital and the Thomas Kemp Tower. A helicopter landing pad and associated works would be constructed on the top of the Thomas Kemp Tower and there would be infrastructure developments including a new electricity sub-station, energy centre and flues. Car and cycle parking facilities would be increased, some road adjustments and minor relocation of bus stops. There would be extensive landscaping throughout the site.

The new hospital buildings would be constructed in three phases:

Stage 1: erection of a part 10, 11 and 12 storey building, including the reinstatement of the interior of the existing Chapel

Stage 2: erection of a 5 storey building

Stage 3: building of a service yard with single storey building

Heritage Statement

The developers intend to mitigate the loss of heritage assets by relocating the interior of the Chapel, by sensitive re-use of the material of the Bristol Gate Piers, and by carefully reconstructing part of the boundary walls within the Stage 2 development. These works will be carried out in accordance with English Heritage guidance.

Medical Facilities

Notable additions to the existing treatment facilities would include a trauma unit, with patients brought into hospital by helicopter if necessary, and a modern cancer treatment unit located in the Stage 1 buildings. The documentation submitted with the proposal provides a rationale for replacing the older buildings to enable the installation of technical equipment and up-to-date facilities for patient care and treatment.

Energy Conservation and Generation

There is a comprehensive energy statement included in the documentation, in which the reasons for the developers’ choices of conservation and generation methods are clearly explained. Proposals take into consideration Brighton and Hove plans for the city, the feasibility of exporting energy to the local area, and considerations of noise minimisation.

The site is too restricted to include some important forms of energy generation, apart from a combined gas-fuelled heat and power generation plant (3.0MW electrical and 3.8MW thermal) and PV solar panels on roofs. Significantly, space will be set aside for future installations such as biofuel and biomass generators as these become financially and technically viable. Energy conservation is planned through design features such as ventilation, low-energy lighting, smart controls and insulating materials, anticipating ‘carbon savings’ of 29%.

The conservation and generation strategies are expected to gain an overall grading of ‘excellent’ from the national association BREEAM.

Transport to and from the hospital

Planned provision of car and cycle parking spaces, increased as a result of public consultation, is still a major concern. Access to underground car parking via Bristol Gate will be easier but there are apparently no plans to improve access for buses.

Landscape planning map for new hospital development

BH2010/03379
‘Royal Alexandra Quarter’, Dyke Road, Brighton
Approved with conditions, July 2011

The development will retain the facade of the main hospital building and convert the space into 20 residential units, and all the other hospital buildings will be demolished, making way for amenity spaces, parking, access and 101 residential units, of which 15% will be for ‘affordable’ rental. The conditions for approval include Ecohomes certification and adherence to regulations about sustainability during demolition and construction.

Artists impression of the development proposed for the Royal Alexanrda Quarter, area view

 

BH2011/00228
The British Engineerium, The Droveway, Hove
Approved

The Engineerium is a listed building within its own conservation area. It is a significant part of our industrial heritage. The plans include the building of a two storey extension to the existing workshops and a new single storey exhibition hall.

There will be alterations to provide disabled access, including ramps and a lift.  There are proposals for solar panels on the roof of the new workshop. Considerable consideration is being given to conserving details of the original buildings.

Photograph view of The British Engineerium with an outline drawing overlay showing the proposed development

For fuller details of these developments enter the planning reference into: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/planning.