Newsletter, September 2011

Chairman’s annual report

Dear Members,

It seems only minutes ago since I drafted the last annual report. It is a strange time of the year to write an annual report with lots of things still scheduled to happen just ahead of us. Looking down the list of what we set out to do and what we have achieved in the last year I am satisfied that we are making progress but regrettably not in all areas, with some things being much more difficult to achieve than others.

First to our 50th anniversary celebrations, which included a celebration dinner and four excursions and visits, all of which were very successful and appreciated by our members. A special thanks to Elaine Evans for all the time she has given to make these events so enjoyable. The success of the dinner has led us to rearrange matters for the 2011 AGM with a sit down lunch just before the AGM on the 18th October. For details and booking see later in this newsletter.

We believe our members do appreciate and deserve more opportunities for socialising than we may have offered in recent years. Committee will also consider a repeat of the evening dinner probably in the New Year.

Our winter programme was in the main well attended, with many visitors from other groups. A much appreciated additional item was the guided tour of the Engineerium in March which showed us the huge potential and scope of the site. The Society has formally supported the planning proposals for adding exhibition space on the site and I believe this has all the makings of a major new attraction in Hove.

This leads me on to our work on planning issues, which has been extensive.

We now try to monitor all applications for Hove plus any larger ones of city-wide interest. The detail of our work is described elsewhere in this newsletter. It does involve quite some time especially once we have decided to support or object to a proposal as this may result in representations including discussions via the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) and council officers.

With the limited time available to us we try to focus on categories of applications or typical occurrences which we can influence in bulk via suggested policy changes. Last year this related to inadequate dwelling sizes, this year we are trying to get our heads round how the council’s sustainability checklist actually can influence developments. On this we are working together with the Brighton Society.

In general we are trying to be positive about new development and realise that building forms in future will have to seek a new vernacular if all the requirements of low or zero emissions are going to take effect. I see this as delivering huge and exciting opportunities.

In terms of long term policy, we are now in discussions with the council about changes to the local development plan framework. We were advised by the inspector, who was appointed to hear the core strategy objections, that we should seek to resolve our objections to the council’s plans as part of the rewrite of the core strategy, which is now being carried out. We will press for our concerns about dwelling sizes and the need for the spatial implications of renewables energy infrastructure to be firmly anchored in the new plans.

Closely allied to this is the work of our Renewables Infrastructure Group, where we are now seeking ways of securing a scoping study to explore how the waste heat of Shoreham power station could benefit the city. We are also exploring how we as a society can help encourage a larger uptake of solar panels on the city roofs. In this context we have put some suggestions both to the council and CAG on how to integrate sustainability considerations into conservation work and I am hopeful that we will see some positive changes coming out of this.

I regret to say that the Restoring our Victorian Street Heritage campaign is still not off the starting block. This is purely a matter of time and if one of the members would like to help me in taking the convener’s role for this campaign then I would be most grateful. It is an important issue affecting many of us.

Better luck on the Public Art Campaign, where we now have a convener and several prominent members. My vision for this part of our work is to emulate what our Victorian forefathers managed to achieve by means of public subscription and to raise sufficient money and interest for the society to be able to sponsor public sculptures throughout Hove.

Finally we have changed our approach to the newsletter, as you will have noticed, and have commissioned a revamp of our website, which is well underway. We have also decided to recommend to the AGM an increase in membership to £12 for individual membership and £20 for family membership. In addition we are inviting donations and legacies, especially for our street tree and public arts fund and we have submitted an application to HMRC to be registered under gift aid. We have been able to recruit additional help to the Committee on the website and editing of the newsletter.

I am pleased to report that we have been able to welcome a number of new members during the year, but we have also members that haven’t renewed so we are slightly down on last year. I hope that our new agenda will attract more members from Hove and would ask you all to help us recruit new members.

With great regret I have to inform you that Sue Ellerton will leave the Committee in the autumn after almost 20 years of unstinting service. She is, however, still prepared to help out on the newsletter dispatch. We owe Sue huge thanks for her help both on the membership side, for editing the newsletter and also for the many outings she ran and weekends she organised for so many years.

Elaine Evans, whilst still remaining on the committee is taking a back seat on the winter programme, which Clare Tikly has kindly agreed to take on. Great thanks to Elaine for helping organise many really exciting winter lectures.

Thank you for your support

With best wishes

Helmut Lusser

Planning Applications for Hove and Portslade, January to June 2011

Members of the HCS planning group look at the weekly planning applications register.

Many are for small-scale conversions or extensions and it is useful to look at trends among those that are either approved, usually with conditions, or refused. We are particularly interested in the sizes of living spaces, design features to enable occupiers to live on in their homes despite increasing age or immobility, and the construction and adaptation of buildings to achieve ever higher standards of environmental sustainability.

We urge in our reports that the sizes of living spaces should at least reach the dimensions expected for council and housing association properties, but this is increasingly not achieved in new conversions or newly built properties. We are pleased to note an increasing trend to reach Life Time Homes standards, a good example of which can be seen in application BH2011/00544. 

For some years Brighton and Hove planners have expected developers of medium and large-scale properties to monitor their intentions against national standards for sustainable living. This is improving, especially since the introduction of new procedures that can monitor developments as they proceed. Factors considered in achieving standards of sustainability are wide-ranging: from, for example, secure bicycle storage facilities and proximity of public transport to energy conservation and micro-generation installations.

We are recommending that this requirement should be extended to small-scale developments wherever possible.

There are also applications for large-scale developments and in significant cases we make representations to the City Council or put applications forward to the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) for consideration. Some examples of large applications that we have supported in the last year are given below.

Significant City Development Proposals Supported by the Society

BH2010/03379
‘Royal Alexandra Quarter’, Dyke Road, Brighton

BH2011/00228
The British Engineerium, The Droveway, Hove

BH2010/03739
‘PortZed’, Aldrington Basin, Portslade

Details of these can be found on the Significant Developments page.

Heritage Round-up

The Sussex Heritage Trust Awards luncheon in July was once again a most interesting event. It was held in the heart of Sussex and my travelling companion was John Small, an Honorary Life Member of our society, the first person I interviewed for the ‘Hove residents of note’ series and a patron of the Trust.

A number of projects are put forward, usually but not exclusively, involving heritage buildings. In Hove and Portslade three submissions won Award plaques: 

Grade II listed seaside residence in King’s Gardens – full refurbishment applying the latest environmental technology alongside authentic restoration techniques; 

46 Hillbrow – the enlargement and remodelling of the existing house; 

Neil England – ornamental plastering. This isn’t the first award Neil has won. His workshop in Portslade was open during the 2010 Open Doors weekend, and made a fascinating visit.

The awards have a number of sponsors, including Longbottom Ltd of Holmfirth. They have been specialist producers of iron work since 1919 and always bring along examples of their work, which are used in churches, stately homes, etc. One was a rose medallion, and their representative explained that one way up it is the Rose of York, the other the Rose of Lancaster, which is critical!

The rivalry between the Houses of York (white) and Lancaster (red) during the bloody war of the Roses in the 15th Century ended when Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, married the Yorkist heiress. The rose has five petals. The Tudor badge rests on a petal with a point each side. The York rose rests on a point with a petal each side. Some 20p coins have the Tudor badge, surmounted by a crown – have a look the next time you get a 20p piece.

Two more Blue Plaques have been unveiled in Hove to try to even the balance of plaques in the city. Dame Clara Butt was born in Southwick in 1873 and rose to fame as a contralto. For some time she lived at St Aubyns Mansions, King’s Esplanade. Vesta Tilley’s talents were as a male impersonator, but she retired from the stage when her husband was knighted. She also had a flat at St Aubyn’s Mansions, and you can see the twin plaques facing the sea, between the King Alfred and Marrocco’s.

I enjoyed the unveiling by the Mayor and Dick Knight of the new Heritage Board at Hove Park, facing on to Old Shoreham Road. It is double-sided: one side details the history of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, the other has information about Hove Park.

With the new Amex stadium up and running at Falmer, it is appropriate that the old Goldstone Ground is not forgotten, where Toys’R’Us now stands. It is hard to believe that when the Club first started, circa 1901, the ‘Goldstone Ground’ was just a field rented from the local farmer. Dick Knight, the former chairman, who did so much to save the Club, gave a speech. Incidentally he’s an old boy of Hove County Grammar School for Boys, Holmes Avenue (now Blatchington Mill School).

While I was at Hove Park, I walked over to visit the miniature railway (see the May newsletter) and had several rides round. It is great fun for all ages but a relatively little known attraction. It will be running on Sat Sept 24 and Sat Oct 29  2-5 pm, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Our 50th anniversary programme continued with two successful events – a walk round Portslade Old Village with Trevor Povey, and a visit to Southwick Manor Cottage guided by Nigel Divers. Both of these men are experts in their field, so they couldn’t have been better. I‘m very happy with the way our anniversary year celebrations have gone.

Elaine Evans

Report from the Renewables Infrastructure Group (RIG)

We have met seven times since last November.

We gave evidence to the Council's scrutiny committee in February on the potential for renewable energy in the city, when we called for a pre-feasibility study to be done on the utilisation of the waste hot water from Shoreham power station, half a mile from our western boundary, which generates 420 MW. We are corresponding with Scottish Power, council officers, and Mott MacDonald, consulting engineers in Brighton.  

The amount of this wastage is more than the 650MW Rampion offshore windfarm will generate (2TWh per year) from 2017.

This is enough energy to heat half the number of buildings (100,000) from Worthing to Brighton with a Combined Heat and Power / District Heating scheme, as shown on the diagram below. The scheme would cost about £3bn (similar to Rampion) and create 50,000 local jobs for 3 years. It would save the gas (2.6 TWh pa) that is presently burned to heat those buildings, and 750m tonnes pa of CO2. (1 TWh is 1 tera watt hour equals 1 billion kWhs)

Our next RIG meeting:

Wednesday 12th October at 6:30-8:00pm
16 Nizells Avenue 
Hove BN3 1PL. 

All welcome. If you would like to engage with us, please contact the secretary:

John Kapp,
22 Saxon Road
Hove, BN3 4LE

01273 417997 
johnkapp@btinternet.com.

We will be manning a stall at the Brighton Eco Energy fair on Saturday 15th October, from 10:00-5:00pm at:

Brighthelm
North Road
Brighton

We hope that you will attend.

Diagram of proposed combined heat and power / district heating scheme (CHP/DH) from Soheham power station to heat the towns.

Diagram representing combined heat and power district heating scheme

Announcements

Winter programme

Our traditional winter lecture programme starts on the 18th October in connection with our AGM.

The programme includes talks by the Bill Randall, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Adam Trimingham, Sarah Tobias, Valerie Mainstone and Geoffrey Mead. We will also have a discussion forum on the topic of ‘Sustainable Living and Travelling in the City’ with Roger French, Director of Brighton and Hove Buses, and a number of other experts.

Attendance is free to members. A charge of £3 for non-members.

AGM

On the 18th October is our 50th AGM and we will celebrate the anniversary with a special lunch followed by the AGM. At the lunch, Bill Randall, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, will give a speech. Members are invited to attend.

There is a £20 charge per person for the lunch.

If you wish to join . . .

If you want to join the society, please see the Get Involved page.