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Brighton Society Objection to Synagogue development 29-31 New Church Road, Hove – Planning Ref. BH2018/02126

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We have previously commented on the proposal to build new facilities, housing and Synagogue on this sensitive site immediately adjacent to the Princes and Pembroke Conservation Area. http://www.brighton-society.org.uk/new-synagogue-an…ppointing-design/ ‎

Existing and proposed views from New Church Road. Aldrington House at left, Hove Museum and Art Gallery to the right

We have subsequently lodged the following objection to this proposal:

The Brighton Society objects to the above planning application on the grounds that the proposed new buildings are out of scale and character with the adjacent Princes and Pembroke Conservation Area and the other Heritage assets immediately to the east and west of the site.

The site is bordered on the east by the red-brick villas within the Pembroke and Princes Conservation Area, and to the west by the locally listed St Christopher’s School.  And just to the west of St Christopher’s School is the locally listed Aldrington House.

Just to the east of the Pembroke and Princes Conservation Area is the Hove Museum and Art Gallery, which is also locally listed, together with the Listed Jaipur Gate.  So on both sides of this sensitive site are recognised heritage assets for some considerable length of New Church Road.

In the centre of all these Heritage buildings will sit a group of high buildings which would be completely out of scale and out of character with its important neighbours.

Because these neighbouring buildings are all of heritage value and importance, it is unlikely that any new alterations on these sites will significantly change their scale and appearance over the length of New Church Road within which this site is situated.

It is important therefore that any new development located between all these recognised heritage assets respects the scale and character of the existing streetscape. This proposal does not.

Scale and character
The situation of this site requires a more sympathetic approach to the scale, height and architectural vocabulary of this scheme. It should definitely not take its architectural precedents from the taller blocks of flats further to the west and east of the site – as argued in the Design and Access Statement – but must take its references from those lower buildings with heritage importance on both sides of the site.

For example, we think that both the east and west wings should be the same height as each other and be no higher than 4 storeys maximum – the top floor being a ‘room in the roof’ or attic floor within a steeply pitched roof form, to relate to the pitched roofs of the villas immediately to the east, and that of St Christopher’s School to the west. The north wing too should be similar in height and form – which would then relate much more comfortably to Carmel House immediately to the north of the site.

The Synagogue building itself is not an issue, though one could question whether its resemblance to a wire cage is entirely appropriate.  It is so substantially different in function and scale to the other buildings on the site, it can stand alone as a separate visual and functional element.

Materials palette
In terms of materials, the main features of the villas within the Conservation Area are predominantly red brick, white painted timber and tiled roofs; those of St Christopher’s School are white render and grey slate. These materials should form the basis of the palette of materials to be used for the Synagogue site’s main buildings.

The Conservation Area Character Statement is quite clear what the characteristics of the Conservation Area are:

“…substantial buildings that exhibit the use of red brick contrasted with extensive use of white painted exterior timber and the overwhelming predominance of the plain red tiles.”

Any proposal as close as this one is to the Conservation Area must recognise this character and pick up these important references.

Yours faithfully,

Jeremy Mustoe MA (Cantab) DIp Arch.
Chairman, Brighton Society

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