Tag Archives: Preston Park

End is nigh for ugliest building in Sussex

From The Argus

Anston House

The clock is ticking for Sussex’s ugliest building as its demolition date draws closer.

Demolition of the infamously unaesthetic landmark Anston House, which has been leering over Preston Park in Brighton since 1969 and been vacant for almost two thirds of its existence, is due to begin later this year.

It looks set be the first of three developments worth £100 million whose construction has been held up by red tape and complex negotiations since they were given the green-light in December.

In total, the three developments, which include Station Street in Brighton and the former Texaco garage in Kingsway, Hove, will deliver almost 300 new homes, 10,000 square metres of business space and nearly 1,000 jobs on sites that have been derelict for more than half a century combined.

The planning committee decisions to grant consent to the three projects, all in excess of seven storeys, was greeted with criticism and derision in some quarters by campaigners who claimed the schemes would set a precedent for the city to be transformed into “Croydon-on-sea”.

Anston House developers First Base have been involved in complex discussions with Brighton and Hove City Council over Section 106 agreements with site preparation underway as the developers deal with a number of issues including slow worms.

But haters of the building will not get the chance for a cathartic moment watching the structure being blown to the ground. Instead its demolition will be a gradual process over a number of weeks.

The construction of its replacement will take the best part of two years, with residents due to move in in 2019.

The site next to the King Alfred in Hove is said to be “under construction” though the fenced-off site has not altered since the petrol station closed in 2015.

A nine-storey block of 55 flats and the redevelopment of the 109-year-old Alibi pub are planned for the site by Rocco Homes, which has four projects in the pipeline around Worthing, including 32 apartments in Chapel Road and 76 flats in The Causeway in Durrington.

For the long derelict corner site of Station Street, currently used as an ad-hoc car park, a seven-storey grade A office block has been granted consent.

Developer McAleer & Rushe will announce later this year when work is set to begin on the site.

A First Base spokeswoman said: “We are excited about the possibilities for Anston House which has been derelict for too long. We are in the final stages of completing the Section 106 planning agreement and have been carrying out preliminary survey work ahead of construction. It is hoped that work will start in the near future.”

 

Advertisements

Anston House – from the Brighton Society

From Brighton Society

The latest application for the Anston House site with three tower blocks of up to 15 storeys was approved in December.  We were extremely disappointed as it ignores many critical planning policies and sets a precedent for similar high rise buildings across the city.

We submitted a twelve page objection to the application emphasising that it did not comply with planning policies that were the reason for rejecting the previous application.

We pointed out that a low rise, high density, development was entirely possible. And we provided an overshadowing analysis showing that the Rose Garden and adjacent areas of Preston Park would be in shadow for 6 months of the year.  Our objections were not mentioned at the committee meeting.

For such a crucial application we were expecting an intense level of discussion but many critical questions were never debated or even asked.  And there were so many questions that should have been asked.  Why the massive overdevelopment of the site  – 230 flats, and towers twice the height of any nearby buildings? Why were the issues of scale, height, overbearing impact, important views, overshadowing and overlooking not discussed and why were the policies that cover these issues completely ignored?  How could it be acceptable for such high towers to be built up against small terraced housing?  Whatever happened to the planning policies that specify that developments have to be sympathetic to the local area? How could the committee meekly accept that 13% affordable housing was acceptable when 40% is the current requirement? The local residents’ group presented a strong case for rejection because of over-development, overbearing presence in the surrounding area, and detrimental effect on the listed Preston Park and on the houses in Dyke Road Drive – all contrary to numerous planning policies.  In addition, the percentage of affordable housing was minimal and the amount of commercial space was inadequate. The previous application was rejected for similar reasons so logically this one should have been too.

To add insult to injury the spokesman for the Conservation Advisory Group, who is ex officio a member of the planning committee, was only called upon to speak after a majority of the councillors had confirmed that they were going to approve the application.  So much for any consideration of the conservation issues.  Reasons given by councillors for it were: a liking of tall buildings; the site has been derelict for years so anything is better than nothing;  dislike of the design but something has to be built; we ought to be thankful for 13% affordable homes because it’s free.  Only two councillors voted against the application on planning policy issues.

The result has driven massive holes into the planning policies. It will create a miserable environment for residents in the adjacent terraced housing, will dominate and overshadow Preston Park and will set a precedent for 15 storey tower blocks to become the norm.  And the acceptance of 13% affordable housing sets the bar so low that other developers will see this as what they will be able to get away with.

The views expressed are those of the Brighton Society, not of SRRA.

The webcast of proceedings can be viewed here – http://brighton-hove.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/203922.

Is it finally the end for Anston House?

From The Argus

imgid88889007-jpg-gallery

A building dubbed ‘Sussex’s ugliest’ could come tumbling down within the next six months if developers get the green light next week.

Brighton and Hove City Council planning officers have recommended Anston House should be levelled and replaced by a 229-flat complex despite the objections of more than 450 residents. Should planning committee members agree with officers next week, building work could begin early next year and be completed in 2019.

Developers First Base and Hyde Housing are the latest to try their luck in seeing off the nine-storey building which has stood derelict off Preston Road for almost 30 years and which has been the subject of a dozen unsuccessful planning applications in the last 15 years.

The partnership are proposing three towers of between 13 and 15 storeys and three smaller blocks totalling 229 flats though the scheme falls below council’s requirements for 92 affordable homes offering just 46 for shared ownership.

The independent District Valuer has agreed with developers that it is only economically viable to provide half of the required 40 per cent affordable housing.

The applicants say additional café and flexible office space will support 280 new jobs as well as hundreds more during the construction phase as well as bringing £1.3 million of funding for school, transport and recreational improvements through s106 payments. The site will also have 111 car parking spaces which opponents to the scheme have labelled both too many and not enough.

The plans have attracted 465 letters of objection and a petition of more than 3,700 signatures but it does have the backing of Brighton Chamber of Commerce while the Friends of Preston Park believe any overshadowing would not harm visitor’s enjoyment of the park. Opponents to the scheme say it is too high, will have a detrimental impact on parts of Preston Park, offers too few affordable homes and described the design as an “unwelcome return to 1960s and 70s anti-social and unsightly high rises”.

imgid88889017-jpg-gallery

The council’s heritage officers have also objected saying that at 50 metres in height, the tallest tower would be “unduly assertive and overly dominant”.

A First Base spokeswoman said the firm had designed the buildings to minimise “impact on the local area”, in particular any impact on Preston Park’s rose garden and rotunda while maintaining views of the park for residents living behind Anston House.

She added: “We are really pleased that the planning officers are recommending the plans for approval. We have spent the best part of two years talking to local residents to understand what they want from Anston House. It was really loud and clear that residents wanted to see it go, it is a real blot on the Brighton landscape, and they wanted to see much needed homes and jobs delivered which Brighton needs.”

imgid32303468-jpg-gallery

Preston Park Hotel to be converted into flats

Preston Park Hotel

Preston Park Hotel

Brighton & Hove City Council has approved the plans after the owner said he could no longer compete with cut-price chains like Travelodge.

The planning committee unanimously agreed the building could be turned into 22 flats, nine of which will be affordable, and 23 parking spaces.

Directors at the hotel said the 34-bed venue is currently trading with “unsustainable” annual losses of up to £103,365 and has required capital injections of more than £53,000 per year continue trading.

Sadness at decline of Brighton and Hove’s parks

From The Argus

Autumn colours in Stanmer Park.

Autumn colours in Stanmer Park.

Brighton and Hove’s parks boss has expressed her sadness at the decline in our city’s green spaces.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment committee, contacted The Argus after we highlighted the plight of Preston Park in last Monday’s paper.

She said: “It saddens me that many of our residents, city parks staff and gardeners can remember a time when there was more funding available and a real sense of pride in the city’s parks, and are now having to witness this decline.”

The city’s parks are suffering following budget cuts over the last few years.

Council bosses now propose cutting a further £600,000 from the budget.

The city’s largest park, Stanmer, is hoping for £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Funding to overcome a number of problems which are widespread across Brighton and Hove’s green spaces.

Cllr Mitchell said: “It’s encouraging to hear how much people really value their neighbourhood parks and recreation areas, and want to see them protected and preserved into the future.

“It’s good to see The Argus taking an interest in the future of parks and open spaces in the city.

“The parks and open spaces budget is one of the council’s smallest budgets- approximately £14 per person a year – and the continuing central government funding cuts means the council is no longer able to provide the levels of funding currently needed to maintain its parks and open spaces.

“This leaves us with no option but to radically rethink the way we manage parks in the city.”

The city’s parks budget was £4 million last year but the department’s budget is due to be cut by £600,000 to £3.4 million between now and 2020.

The council has launched a consultation into the future of its 147 parks and green spaces warning that they will not be able to save all of the city’s 53 playgrounds as they tighten their belts.

Community groups and residents could be asked to take responsibility over parks.

Residents are being asked to support replacing play equipment with natural play features carved from trees which require less maintenance.

The consultation continues until October 28.

THE SURVIVAL OF STANMER IS ESSENTIAL FOR EVERYBODY

THE future of the city’s largest park will be dependent on heritage funding.

Brighton and Hove City Council has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £4 million to restore Stanmer Park.

Councillor Gill Mitchell described the funding bid as “a one-off opportunity to halt the decline of the city’s largest park.”

While those closest to the park agree that funding is desperately needed, the question of priorities remains.

In July 2014 the council made two applications for Heritage Lottery Funding. There was an unsuccessful grant application to renovate Home Farm but a £300,000 grant to develop a proposal to regenerate the walled garden and other parts of the landscape was accepted.

Since then, council officers have been working with Plumpton College and the South Downs National Park and Heritage England to prepare a master plan for the park and develop a long-term vision for the estate.

A decision on the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is due in December.

A public consultation on Stanmer Park earlier this year highlighted concerns about access, signage, dog mess, parking, cycle lanes and the lack of public bus services.

For campaigner Jamie Hooper, who founded the Friends of Stanmer Park, the survival of the park is essential – not just for Stanmer residents like himself but for all in Brighton and Hove.

He said: “I’m looking from the perspective of the person who lives in a tower block or terraced cottage and wants to come out with the family and kick a ball about and have a cup of tea in the tea room.

“The problem is nobody thinks about the park as an amenity for the wider community. They don’t think about it as a city park but as a private property for an aristocratic family.

“I don’t think what’s being planned is going to be good value for money.”

Some of the issues currently facing the park include damage to the access road which has been badly patched up over the years.

Many of the farm buildings have also been left to fall into disrepair.

Among the conservation plans include the felling of 200 trees and moving another 50 to restore the park to Capability Brown’s (the park’s designer) original vision.

However, for many users their priorities are that the park can be maintained in the future for all of the city’s residents, who don’t care where the trees are located.

Of more sentimental concern is the fact that many of the trees are memorials with people’s ashes sprinkled at their trunks.

Mr Hooper added: “I don’t think most park users particularly care if the park exactly resembled Capability Brown’s vision. Most probably don’t know who he was. But that’s not what makes Stanmer special.”

Mr Hooper said he would rather see a kiosk and toilets or cycle hire facilities.

The crumbling public toilets in the village are set to be moved but he said the money could be better spent repairing them.

“If the council officers making these decisions were talking about their own property they would never let it fall into this state.

“As a businessman I don’t think they are making the best use of the money.

“I’m sure there will be benefits but perhaps not as great as there could be.”

The plans will also reduce the amount of parking space within the park, which campaigners fear may send visitors elsewhere.

The city council has plans to rent buildings next to the walled garden to Plumpton College.

However it is understood the college will not pay any rent until the walled garden, which it runs, is profitable.

The park, which falls within the South Downs National Park for planning purposes, is owned by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Brighton’s parks at risk

Have a look at this: – https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-parks

Britain’s parks are at risk. There’s no legal responsibility to look after them and squeezed budgets mean our local green spaces – from playgrounds, to the park you relax in on your lunch break – don’t have the money they need. We could end up being forced to pay to use our parks – or lose them altogether. 

A group of MPs are looking into the crisis right now. They’re thinking of making protecting parks a legal requirement, and they’ll advise the government on what to do. A huge petition, signed by all of us, will prove how much we love our parks. It could convince the MPs to come up with a water-tight plan for protecting them. 

Can you sign the petition now and demand that looking after our parks is made a legal requirement by the government? It only takes 30 seconds to add your name: – https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-parks.

Local areas granted Public Spaces Protection Orders

From Brighton & Hove News

Twelve areas of Brighton and Hove have been granted special protection from travellers after a vote by councillors on Thursday 14 July.

The 12 sites will be subject to a “public spaces protection order” (PSPO) which is intended to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The order – to be made by Brighton and Hove City Council – sets out prohibited behaviours which would include

  • occupying any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure
  • driving any vehicle on grass
  • littering or fly-tipping
  • lighting or maintaining a fire
  • defecating or urinating

The order would empower the council or police to

  • remove any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure within 12 hours
  • dispose of items as directed
  • put out any fires
  • require people to give their name, address and date of birth

A report to councillors said that the orders were intended to tackle anti-social behaviour that was

  • having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
  • persistent or continuous and
  • unreasonable

The 12 sites are

  • The Greenway next to the railway in the New England Quarter
  • Hollingbury Park
  • Lawn Memorial Cemetery and adjacent land in Woodingdean
  • Preston Park
  • Rottingdean Recreation Ground
  • The seafront including the A259 from Black Rock to Hove Lagoon
  • Sheepcote Valley and East Brighton Park
  • St Helen’s Green
  • Stanmer Park
  • Surrenden Field
  • Waterhall
  • Wild Park

Some of the sites are sensitive because they have heritage status, are heavily used or are next to densely populated areas.

For the full story click here.