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SAVE OUR CENTRE

The Argus : 13 February 2008
Ninka Willcock, Brighton Society Committee

I AM GRATEFUL to The Argus and Christopher Hawtree for alerting readers both to the threat to Brighton and Hove City Council’s committee system and even more urgently to the threat to the Connaught Centre in Hove (Letters, February 11).

This building was opened as a board school in 1884 and is one of the finest school buildings by the esteemed local architect Thomas Simpson.

Although it has recently been neglected, having presumably been earmarked for disposal, the building is essentially structurally sound. Its roof was totally unscathed by the 1987 hurricane, which is good going for a building which even then was 103 years old.

It is rumoured that Tesco might be interested in the site for a petrol station. Indeed, such a sale would realise considerable capital for the college but at what cost to Connaught Road and the surrounding area?

As a community education facility, the Connaught Centre is highly valued by many adult learners.

Conversion of part of the building, and perhaps even part of the car park, to living accommodation could generate considerable funds for City College’s exciting Pelham Street project while also allowing the Connaught Centre to continue to flourish. Victorian educational buildings can adapt well to living accommodation, the former Finsbury Road Board School (also by Thomas Simpson) and the 1897 building in Richmond Place being two impressive local precedents.

Ninka Willcock, The Brighton Society, Terminus Street, Brighton