The Brighton Society recognises the need for a new conference centre to compete with facilities elsewhere in the country, and we welcome the Plan’s commitment to “high quality building design and townscape”.
However we think that the Black Rock site for a conference centre would be a disaster. Previous schemes fell by the wayside as getting large numbers of delegates to and from the site would not be practical. We think that conference delegates enjoy being close to the lively city centre with a number of shops, restaurants and pubs and would not enjoy waiting for buses to and fro from Black Rock in the driving rain.
We would also welcome a pedestrian link between the Churchill Square shopping centre and the seafront; however such a link has failed to work in the past so plans for a new one would need to be convincing.
We strongly question the need for additional shopping floor space. High street retailers are struggling to hold their own against online competitors and there are empty shops in the existingcentrre and nearby. It is true that there is currently a recession, but we believe that the proposed extension to the centre would result in the permanent loss of shops in nearby streets.
We are also strongly opposed to the creation of any further closed off areas in the city centre, that is areas which cease to be public spaces, known as common ground, once the shops close in the evening.
We welcome the commitment to improved public safety in and around West Street.
We do not think any more tall buildings would appropriate in this area as this would make the Old Town look like Toy Town. Refer to our response to Section CP12 – Urban Design.