50th Anniversary 1980s
The first leaflets were published – A Walk around the Best of Brighton and The Craftsmen & Materials for the Care of Old Houses.
In 1980 we gave evidence at the Public Inquiry into the multi-storey car park in King Street at which we were given the opportunity to cross-examine Council Officers and Councillors. Sadly, the scheme was eventually allowed. A multi-storey car park was a relic of the Wilson Womersley Scheme which somehow survived. The few houses remaining in King Street show what was lost through demolition while, when viewed from Church Street, the car park remains an eyesore.
The Manifold Charitable Trust awarded a grant to the Society to publish a paper on Brighton’s derelict sites.
In 1981 we gave evidence at the Public Inquiry into the Brighton By-Pass and were granted the opportunity to cross-examine several witnesses. There was much support to build a tunnel at Old Boat Corner, which would have preserved much of the landscape on the ridge at the top of Stanmer Park, but this was rejected by the Department of Transport.
In 1982 we strongly opposed plans for a seafront hotel built across Lower Market Street, radically changing the historic old town road pattern leading to the sea and obliterating views of and reflected light from the sea. Regrettably, the Council continued to support the development, citing the developer’s promise that views of the sea would be seen through the open foyer of the hotel. This never materialised and the front entrance of the hotel facing Bartholomew Square has remained a very sterile and sunless area.
A successful campaign resulted in the preserving of North Place after there had been several attempts to demolish this historic area of the town.
We supported the Council at the Public Inquiry into the pedestrianisation of Duke Street and campaigned to get the Victory Pub listed, putting forward a strong case for the listing to include the impressive display shelving behind the bar. Listing of interiors was quite a rare occurrence. We were successful with the pub listed as Grade ll, including interior listing of the bar – “Good late C19 bar-back of 3 bays and 3 shelves with turned balusters, entablature and scrolled pediment to centre”.
We arranged a meeting of amenity societies and residents’ groups to listen to the ideas for Brighton from Peter Robottom, the new Planning Officer.
In 1986 we were concerned about the Council’s intention to demolish Roedale Farm in Hollingdean and to build 81 flats in a tower on the site. The RIBA Community Architecture grant of £700 was awarded to the Society to commission a feasibility study for a housing scheme which included the retention of the farm. In 1992 Brighton Housing Trust put forward a proposal for 38 low-rise flats based on our feasibility study. The Council gave their approval, including retention of the forge.
At the second attempt, the Society succeeded in getting the Diocesan Training College in Ditchling Road listed. However, our applications for listing the Parochial Offices in Prince’s Street and the Tower House in Preston Road were rejected.
The Society joined with many groups opposing the replacement of paved footpaths with black tarmac which was being carried out by East Sussex County Council – the highways authority at the time. Even the local paper, The Leader, joined the campaign. The policy was abandoned.
With a grant from the Department of the Environment, we published a leaflet of Environmental Information for Brighton & Hove. A further leaflet, New Windows for Old, was published to show the damage done to old buildings by the insertion of inappropriate modern windows, particularly uPVC double glazing.
In 1986 there were proposals to demolish the south side of Prince Albert Street in the Lanes as part of the redevelopment of the Old Market, opposite the Town Hall, for new Council offices. Only the façades of the historic old buildings would have remained. The Society strongly opposed the proposals, predicting that any attempt at façade retention would result in the total collapse of the whole terrace. The Council eventually revised the development and the buildings remained intact.
In 1987 the Council proposed to demolish 24 to 33 Terminus Road and build new houses and flats. One of the reasons given for this development was the poor structural condition of the buildings. We queried the basis of the decision, in particular the report detailing the structural condition of the buildings. Amendments were made to the final scheme that was built a few years later.
The Great Storm of October 1987 uprooted thousands of trees across Brighton and Hove. The Society was heavily involved over the next year ensuring that the emergency funding was used to plant suitable replacement trees in the parks and that a scheme for planting new street trees was implemented.
In 1988 we campaigned with the Montpelier & Clifton Hill Association to change ‘Breeze into Brighton’ (a scheme to encourage cars into the town centre) into ‘Freeze the Breeze’ (to limit the number of cars in the town centre). The ‘Breeze into Brighton’ scheme was abandoned.
In 1988 we objected to the development of the Walter Gillett site on Nile Street and Market Street. Walter Gillett were printers and stationers with a large printing works in Nile Street and stationery shop in Market street. All the buildings were demolished for new shops and residential buildings. The Society objected to the large drum-like building on the corner of Nile Street and Market Street. We were unsuccessful. The building still looks completely out of place.
In 1989 extensive demolition took place in the Church Road and Portland Street area, destroying many 18th century cottages. The clearance of the site was in preparation for the construction of a large office building in Portland Street. The Society had opposed the proposed development since the demolition would destroy historic cottages and would force the closure of many small businesses. The most significant loss was Blaber’s Iron Foundry, which at the time was a thriving company producing metal castings using traditional sand moulding techniques. The local paper quoted a Council spokesperson who “could not understand what the fuss was all about”. The site is still derelict – the offices were never built.