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Brighton Society objection : Unit 1 – 3 Ellen Street Hove

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Objection from the Brighton Society
Application Ref. BH2020/00917 – Unit 1-3 Ellen Street Hove BN3 3LN

The recent amendments to this planning application make no real difference to the deficiencies of the first designs shown in the initial application. The boxy design, the excessive height, the effect on the listed Hove Station buildings and the Hove Station Conservation Area are all just as bad as they were before. The changes amount to no more than tinkering around the edges and represent no real improvements in terms of any of these criticisms.

The Brighton Society therefore strongly objects to the above application on the following grounds:

1. Effect on the Hove Station Conservation Area and Listed and Locally Listed buildings nearby.
The character of the Hove Station Conservation Area which is just to the east of the development site will be severely impacted by the sheer scale, height, mass, bulk and ugliness of this design proposal.

The settings of two important Heritage buildings will be particularly badly affected:

1.1 The Hove Station buildings.
These (including the footbridge), are Grade II Listed. Their setting, together with the Station Pub, immediately to the south, make an extremely important contribution to the character of that part of the Hove Station Conservation Area.

The image shown above of the 18-storey block of flats towering above the Station pub really speaks for itself. It badly compromises the appearance of both buildings and the Conservation Area as a whole, which will change forever the quiet elegance of the Hove streetscape defined by the North/South Goldstone Villas and Denmark Villas and the streets between.

1.2 The Station Pub, 100 Goldstone Villas

The Local listing of this building includes the following description:

“Good quality, well-detailed example of a railway hotel, despite the later ground floor frontage. Within the Hove Station conservation area, it is unusual for the area due to its size, use and architectural detailing. The building is closely associated with Hove Railway Station, which is listed at grade II. It retains a sense of intactness, and its relationship with the railway station.”

Does this block towering above and behind the Station Pub enhance it?

2. Inappropriate development

A very tall building – into which category this 18-storey proposal falls (SPG15 para 5.2), is an inappropriate, unsympathetic and out of scale solution for this site because of its impact on these Heritage asserts.

It is of vital importance that new buildings close to the Conservation Area respect its existing scale and character, do not overpower its surroundings in terms of their visual impact and are not detrimental to the visual quality that the consistency of height, scale and character of those buildings brings with it.

Although this proposal is located in one of the tall building zones, its proposed 18 storeys is significantly taller than ‘mid-rise’ (6 – 8 storeys, such as the Council flats nearby), and very considerably taller than all other buildings within the Hove Station Conservation Area and adjacent residential streets.Out of scale with its surroundings…..

We therefore consider that an assessment of the mean height of surrounding development (as required by SPD15), should apply equally to this site as to any other within the city, and the results of that assessment – which we think would be interesting – should be a relevant consideration in determining whether this application should or should not be approved.

3. Harm to the Hove Station Conservation Area

Extract from the Hove Station CA Character Statement:  “The special character of the area derives from the relationship between the station and the surrounding late Victorian buildings which connect the station with the main part of the town along Goldstone Villas”

The application site is very close to this Conservation Area – a designated Heritage Asset. As such, the Council has a duty to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. It also has policies within its own City Plan which are designed to protect those Heritage Assets within the City.

The illustrations above (extracted from the Visual Assessments included within the application), shows the monstrous difference between the 18-storey tower proposed and its immediate neighbours. How this could ever be interpreted as ‘preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of the Conservation Area’ defies belief.

This 18-storey building is totally out of scale and character with the Conservation Area and will have a drastically detrimental effect on it.

On these grounds alone it should not be permitted.

4. Housing need
We recognise the need for more housing in Brighton, including the need for high densities so that the land within the city can be used as efficiently as possible. We support the development of under-used sites such as this for new housing, (though we do not subscribe to the myth that high density necessarily means tall buildings).

That said, there are some sites which are appropriate for high densities and some which are not. This site is too small to accommodate the number of 216 dwellings proposed at an incredibly high density of 574dph.

For comparative purposes, the first Anston House planning application – to which we objected, and which was refused in 2013, included buildings of 15 and 12 storeys. That resulted in what we regarded as an excessive density of 385 dwellings per hectare. That was very high by any standards – for example the average density even in Westminster in central London between 2002 and 2006 was only 186 dwellings per hectare.

This degree of overdevelopment on its own would be suffcient grounds for rejection of this proposal.

That said, the general principle of medium rise buildings surrounding a central courtyard (or two first floor level open spaces as in this case), is not one which we would oppose.

The problem with this design is that its height, its overbearing scale, the unsympathetic, boxy character of its design, and its relationship with the adjacent Victorian residential streets, the Conservation Areas and the character of the listed and locally listed buildings it dominates, is badly flawed.

We strongly urge the Council to reject this proposal.

Yours faithfully,

Jeremy Mustoe MA (Cantab), Dip Arch
Chairman, Brighton Society

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