Friday, 20 October 2017

Shelter Hall progress

The site today.

In total 135 piles almost a metre thick have now been sunk up to 20 metres into the ground. During the task, contractors shipped in 750 cubic metres of concrete in hundreds of cement lorries. The next phase will involve a similar quantity of concrete to create a solid slab half a metre thick on which to build the new Shelter Hall.

Piling in progress
A lorry compound on the upper prom and second diversion to the cycle lane are expected to be in place until June 2018.

Access to the beach and all businesses on the lower prom remains the same.  A temporary pedestrian crossing in front of the Brighton Centre will also stay.

Once groundworks are complete, a reinforced concrete frame will be created. External finishes will mean the new building looking similar to the Victorian structure it replaces.

The new building is expected to open in Spring 2019.

Mister Adam in Rottingdean

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A new Valley Gardens park

Work continues behind the scenes on plans to improve the environment and transport links through the central valley leading to Brighton seafront and city centre.
The Valley Gardens project aims to reduce the impact of traffic between St Peter’s Church and the Royal Pavilion, to better link the green spaces to the city centre. 
Features include an improved network of paths for cyclists and pedestrians. General traffic will be placed on the east side of the valley, going in both directions. On the west side will be a quieter route, just carrying buses, taxis and other local traffic headed for the North Laine area.
Most of the £10m cost is being paid for with government money coming via the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The money can only be spent on Valley Gardens.
A planning application covering re-landscaping the area is hoped will go to planning committee in November. Subject to approval, work is expected to start next spring.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The William IV pub renovation


The William IV pub on the corner of Bond & Church Streets has no doubt gone through many transformations in its 170year+ history. The latest this year by the pub group Indigo has revealed the original cobble walls and retained the United Ales green tiling. It has also regained a hanging sign,

But the painted signage looks cheap & nasty compared with the previous raised gilt lettering. I hope they've kept the letters for when the fashion cycle turns back again.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Pavilion ice-rink for another 6 years

Ice skating on the Royal Pavilion east lawn has been given planning permission for the next six winters.  This year the rink organisers’ website says the attraction will be open from November 4 to January 14.

As well as the main rink, roughly 40m by 20m, permission also allows a beginners’ rink, restaurant, cafe, toilets, skate hire and associated plant and lighting.

This will be the eighth successive year the rink has been staged outside the Grade 1-listed Royal Pavilion.

Opening hours for skating allowed are 10am to 10.15pm. Up to 315 people are allowed on the rink at any one time. The café can be open from 10am to half past midnight.

Information about the rink’s operation, tickets and more is available at its website.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A pedestrianised North Street?

The temporary pedestrianisation of North Street for resurfacing has demonstrated what a difference the absence of buses makes. The air is noticeably cleaner and the general environment quieter, calmer and more relaxing. People seem less rushed and have more space to just saunter if they feel like it.

Meanwhile, along the King's Road diversion the buses are less blocked in than in North Street, there are sea breezes to disperse the fumes and plenty of space on the upper & lower promenades for pedestrians to put a distance between themselves and the traffic.

If North Street were to be permanently pedestrianised the needs of less mobile people could be met with small electric shuttle buses running between the Old Steine and the Clock Tower with perhaps a couple of intermediate stops.

If such a scheme were considered too far-reaching a useful halfway house would be to make North Street one-way west to east. Traffic emits less pollution when travelling downhill and buses would have more space to pull away at bus stops and so minimise waiting and engine idling times.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Royal Pavilion & Museums - a bumper summer

Between April and September the Royal Pavilion received more than 220,000 visits, up by 6% and on target to reach an estimated 325,000 this year.

The Royal Pavilion is a good general barometer of the local tourist economy and this year has seen a notable increase in the proportion of foreign visitors - 43% compared with 37% in 2016/17.

Visits to Brighton Museum also increased by 13,000, despite entry charges for non-residents. Between April and September there were 61,000 visits to the museum – a massive 27% increase on last year.

The increases are partly due to the weak pound attracting overseas visitors and some popular exhibitions, such as Jane Austen By The Sea at the Royal Pavilion  and Constable at Brighton Museum.

Preston Manor visits were 2,600 above target, with 11,768 through the doors of Brighton’s Edwardian mansion between April and September. Two-thirds of visits to Preston Manor are school groups and almost all the autumn sessions are fully booked.

Monday, 2 October 2017

West Blatchington windmill restoration wins award.

Watercolour by John Constable

The Grade II* listed West Blatchington windmill has been awarded the 2017 Public & Community Award from the Sussex Heritage Trust.

The  announcement  follows a £100k restoration  -  a joint project by Brighton & Hove City Council’s Property & Design Team,  Fowler Building Contractors,  Baqus Construction Consultancy Ltd and  CTP Engineers, in consultation with The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill which contributed half of the funding.

The award, a commemorative plaque, was attached to the Grade II* listed structure, at a special ceremony last week.

The judges commented: “The Mill is a fantastic heritage asset, a museum both of its own history and of windmills in general. The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill are to be commended for their effort, energy and enthusiasm in its preservation, without which it would almost certainly have been lost.

The 74- week long restoration project, led by the council’s Property and Design team, saw specialist contractors carrying out structural repairs to the fan tail and gearing mechanism, reefing stage decking and supports. 
Weatherboarding  and flint walling were also repaired and the mill and barn repainted in a traditional colour to replicate the original tarring. Existing materials were reused where possible and work was careful programmed to minimise disruption and ensure safe access for the general public attending classes in the attached barn.

West Blatchington Mill, which was beautifully illustrated by John Constable in a watercolour 1825, is open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holiday afternoons from May to September. School parties and other groups are shown round at other times by appointment.


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Palace Pier revamp

Over the coming winter Brighton Palace Pier Company is to invest £1.3M in revamping the bar and restaurant facilities.

With 4.65 million visitors a year the Pier is the fifth most popular free destination in the UK.

It is good to know its immediate future is secure.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Massive Lewes Road regeneration scheme gets go-ahead

Preston Barracks proposals

One of the city’s biggest regeneration plans of recent decades has today been granted planning permission by the BHCC planning committee by a unanimous vote.

Permission covers the redevelopment of three adjacent sites along Lewes Road; the former Preston Barracks site, the current car parks of the University of Brighton’s Watts House and Mithras House. 

Planning permission allows:

Preston Barracks site - a seven storey research laboratory, 534 bed spaces of student accommodation in three blocks of between 13 and 15 storeys; 369 residential units consisting of 45 studio apartments, 111 one-bed, 192 two-bed and 21 three-bed units in eight blocks ranging from two to 10 storeys, ground floor workshop, commercial and retail space and 156 parking spaces, plus cycle parking and public realm works. 15 per cent of the residential units will be affordable properties aimed at local people in housing need. 

Mithras House site - a mixed-use campus development consisting of 804 units of student accommodation in five blocks of between nine and 18 storeys, students’ union and welfare facilities, gym, 13 disabled student parking spaces and a  pedestrian /cycle bridge crossing Lewes Road.

Watts House site – outline planning permission for a six storey academic building for a Business School, a 551-space, eight-storey car park to the rear, cycle parking, plus public realm and landscaping improvements.

A new public footbridge across Lewes Road will unify the campus and make the busy route less of a barrier for local communities.

As part of a planning agreement with the city council, developers will pay £1.7m for local recreation and open space provision, £371,000 for local employment schemes, £255,000 to improve local sustainable transport and £83,000 for improving or expanding five local nurseries.

Footbridge over Lewes Road 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Simulated fly-through of the RSCH redevelopment

The video is derived from a virtual reality modelling of the new development which has been created to aid staff familiarisation and training.

The VR model reflects all the information in the redevelopment’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) database. The VR model will continue to be updated until the end of the hospital redevelopment as new equipment is bought and the interior design of the new buildings takes shape.

This work on VR has been short-listed for Building Magazine’s BIM initiative of the year.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

91 Carlton Hill

Photo: RPM

Until it was demolished in the early 1960s this general shop on the corner of William Street had been in the Corder family for 50 years. The last occupant was a Miss A. Corder.

The corner of Carlton Hill & William Street today.

New A & E Department gets go-head.

The planned expansion of the RSCH Accident & Emergency Department has been approved by the city’s Planning Committee.

The current department has insufficient patient capacity and failed to meet performance standards for a number of years. The new plan will provide space for 70 short-stay assessment beds over two floors, and for complete refurbishment of the A&E department. The proposal aims to provide a much-needed fit-for-purpose facility, reduce pressure on scarce beds in the main hospital, and improve clinical care.

The new 70 bed Short Stay Unit will care for both surgical and medical patients who need to be admitted to hospital for 48 hours or less.

The new unit  will be housed  in an extension of the existing A&E Building on Bristol Gate. It will be located above the department’s ambulance and car drop off and will stand on columns to allow access for vehicles and pedestrians to the front door of A&E.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

North Street closure

North Street is going to be closed to through traffic from tomorrow, Monday 18th September until the middle of November.

All buses will be re-routed via King's Road and West Street.

It was last dug up in 2007 for renewal of Victorian water mains and apparently not reinstated properly.

The work is being done in 3 phases starting at the Clock Tower.

Phase 1
Queen's Rd. to King St.
Phase 2
King St. to Bond St.
Phase 3
Bond St. to East St.
It will interesting to hear of any effects the lack of buses has on footfall.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

East Street to lose Cath Kidston.

'Cath Kidston' East Street frontage

East Street Arcade.

Cath Kidston, the ‘Modern Vintage’ international retailer, has signed a lease with Redevco, for 1,700 sq ft of ground floor sales plus ancillary storage, at 6-7 North Street.  Cath Kitson, which began in 1993, has been trading at East Street Arcade since 2011. The move is being made in search of more display space. 

6-7 North Street is part of the Hanningtons estate currently being redeveloped and refurbished by Redevco.

It is unfortunate that North Street's gain has to be East Street Arcade's loss.

Beach rubbish sculpture

The sculpture isn't rubbish - it's clever - it's just made of rubbish.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Puget's Cottage exposed

For a few months, before the new buildings conceal it, the west elevation of  Puget's Cottage is fully exposed.
The south elevation.
Footings going in at the west end of the new lane.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Huntingdon House refurb.

Huntingdon House before the scaffolding
Google Earth

Following the demolition of Timpsons and work to reveal and restore the historic 17th century Pugets Cottage, Redevco’s contractor Westridge has started to refurbish Huntingdon House on North Street. Huntingdon House is named after the Countess of Huntingdon's church which was demolished in 1972.



Redevco started redeveloping the 1.3 acre site, which includes the former Hanningtons department store or ‘Harrods of Brighton’, in February.

A building at the rear of the site has been demolished and existing space reconfigured and significant investment and improvements should appear over the next few months including larger, bolder and more permanent signs to Meeting House Lane.

It is expected that by the end of Summer 2018, Brighton will have a new Lane and new spaces for shops, restaurants and cafes.

Architect's visualisation of the refurbished building

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Legend of the Devil's Dyke

and in verse:-

Six hundred years ago or more or, if you please, in days of yore,
A wicked wight yclept 'Old Nick', renowned for many a wanton trick,
With envy from the Downs beheld the studded churches of the Weald.
Here Poyning's cruciform and there, Hurst, Albourne, Bolney, Newtimber.
Cuckfield and more with towering crest, quae nunc prae scribere longum est.
Oft heard the undulating chime, proclaim aloud 'twas service time.
While to the sacred house of prayer went many a pious worshipper.

"Can I with common patience see these churches and not one for me?"
"Shall I be cheated of my due by such a sanctimonius crew?"
He muttered twenty things beside and swore that night the foaming tide,
Led through a deep and wondrous trench, should give those pious souls a drench.

Adown the West the steeds of day, hasted merrily away,
And night in solemn pomp came on, her lamp a star, a cloud her throne.
So Nick began with much ado, to cut those lofty downs in two.
At every lift his spade threw out a thousand waggon-loads no doubt.
Oh! had he laboured to the morrow his envious work had wreaked much sorrow.
The Weald, a wide and beauteous place,  o'erwhelmed a sad and watery waste.

But so it chanced a good old dame, whose deed has long outlived her name,
Waked by the cramp at midnight's hour, or just escaped the nightmare's power.
Rose from her humble bed when lo, she heard Nick's terrible ado,
And by the starlight dimly spied that wicked wight and dyke so wide.

And, as with wonderment amazed, at workman and at work she gazed,
Swift cross her mind a thought there flew, that she by stratagem might do,
A deed which luckily would save, her county from a watery grave.

Forth from her casement in a minute, a sieve with flaming candle in it,
She held to view, and simple Nick, who ne'er suspected such a trick,
Scared at the sight of a new sun, fled, his work undone,
And muttering curses that the day should drive him from his work away.

Night after night our heedful dame, watched, but again Nick never came.
Who now dare call the action evil, to hold a candle to the Devil?

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Shelter Hall piling starts

The latest phase of rebuilding Brighton’s historic seafront Shelter Hall gets underway from early September, as contractors start sinking 135 concrete piles, up to 20 metres into the ground. These will then be capped with a half-metre thick slab of concrete to provide a stable base for the new building.

Around 1450 cubic metres of concrete will be pumped into the site – enough to fill three swimming pools the size of Brighton’s Prince Regent.

Hundreds of cement mixer deliveries will be needed. To accommodate them, a special compound will be created across the layby and prom opposite the Brighton Centre. This will entail a second diversion in the seafront cycle lane to be put in place imminently, shifting it a few metres south into a space shared with pedestrians. An existing diversion to the east will stay.

Piling and capping work is expected to last until around next February. However the compound and cycle lane diversion are expected to be in place until June 2018 to assist subsequent works.

Once groundworks are complete, a reinforced concrete frame will be created. External finishes will mean the new building looking similar to the Victorian structure it replaces.

The new building housing a large destination restaurant, a rotunda café, a retail unit and public toilets is expected to be fully open in Spring 2019. Revenues will help maintain the seafront in future. The council is also reinforcing the A259 to eliminate the risk of it eventually collapsing.

"Trixi mirror" for Lewes Road/Elm Grove junction

The extensive improvements (details here) currently underway at the junction of the Lewes Road and Elm Grove will include installation of a 'Trixi mirror'. 

A Trixi is a convex mirror attached to traffic signals to help drivers (especially HGVs) to see down the side of their vehicle for the presence of people on cycles, especially before turning left. This is a common cause of some very serious accidents in these situations.

In this case the mirror will be positioned under the signal head on Lewes Road southbound carriageway at its junction with Elm Grove.

The complete work is expected to last until 20th November and cause considerable temporary disruption.

West Pier - a Journey through Time

See also: Last days of the West Pier

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The Boots corner.

The 100 year-old+ White Lion Hotel building

The 1974 modernist building
Photo: RPM

The re-designed, re-clad building. 2017

Boots have had some presence on this corner since 1903. Their modernist store which replaced the White Lion Hotel building & Regent cinema in 1974 at least had architectural integrity. It was designed by Derek Sharp of the Comprehensive Design Group. But its understated. elegant modernism was all but ruined by a re-design in 1998, changing it into a semi-industrial carbuncle. The cladding hasn't weathered well and the ridiculous  mortar-board roofs still look gimmicky and out-of-place. Hopes that it might be replaced by what seemed a fine new store for John Lewis were dashed earlier this year with a change in their plans.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The new seafront landscaping

RSCH car park - access route change.

From Tuesday 29 August until Sunday 24 September the normal route to the multi-storey car park, from Bristol Gate across the hospital site, will be shut. This is to allow the delivery of modules for a new building in the hospital and engineering works to connect it to power and water supplies.

During this period drivers should follow the signposted route (shown in blue on the image below) to reach the hospital’s multi-storey car park.

To help manage traffic during this period:

The bottom of Whitehawk Hill Road will be made one way (from north to south), as shown in red on the image below.
Parking bays next to the hospital on both Upper Abbey Road and Whitehawk Hill Road will be suspended.
Please allow extra time if you are driving to the hospital and wish to park in the multi-storey car park.

If possible, please think about using a different way to reach the hospital or parking elsewhere. Links to information about using public transport to reach the hospital can be found on the RSCH information page.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

How the BA i360 was built

In the i360 beach building an interesting exhibition is open to the public until, come winter, the pod starts loading and unloading from the lower promenade level.

Interesting facts about the construction:
The 4,150-tonne concrete foundations are 3 metres deep.
7,200 tonnes of natural beach shingle was excavated during construction and returned to the beach at Shoreham, to help reverse the longshore drift.
The 162-metre-high tower consists of 17 steel cans that were bolted together using 1,336 bolts.
The steel cans vary in thickness from 85mm at the base to 20mm at the top.
The pod is 18 metres in diameter and is 10 times the size of a London Eye capsule.
The glass panels of the pod were shaped at high temperatures using bespoke moulds.
The West Pier tollbooths were reconstructed using castings from the original structures.

Seafront sculpture sacrilege

Aug 2017

Notwithstanding the reputation of Brighton as a centre for the arts and artists philistines seem to be alive and kicking.

The setting of an important 20thC artwork has been recently ruined by the unthinking addition of a motley collection of seafront clutter. It is no consolation that some of it may not be permanent. Even the security camera mast, in itself, is sufficient to spoil the composition.

How it should look.
See also: Passacaglia postscript

Thursday, 10 August 2017

New homes in old buildings

At yesterday’s BHCC planning committee approval was given to convert Preston Road School, to provide 25 flats. Consent allows the locally-listed 1880s building to have a roof conversion, mezzanine floors, and a rear extension.  Ten of the flats would be affordable units aimed at local people in housing need.

Developers would pay the council £71,000 to local open spaces and indoor sports facilities plus £55,000 towards local schools.

Over in South Street, Portslade, planning permission has been granted for a scheme which will provide 37 flats on the old Brewery complex.

The scheme will utilise the classical revival-style buildings on the site which are all locally-listed.  There would also be commercial space including artists’ studios with ancillary galleries, community space and a café. Other industrial buildings would be demolished.

Elsewhere on site will be 11 new  houses. This would include two units of affordable accommodation aimed at local people on the housing waiting list - or a payment of £126,000 instead towards housing elsewhere. Councillors agreed they preferred the on-site option.

In a planning agreement developers would pay over £100,000 to improve local parks. Another £48,000 would go towards sustainable transport, £21,000 for city sports centres and £16,000 to a local employment scheme.

View of the corner of the site from South Street. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Corn Exchange project - time lapse video.

Pride 2017, BHCC video

Grenville Place

The north-east corner of Grenville Place with Upper Russell Street in 1967

From left to right is the back of Home & Colonial Stores; no.2, a hairdressers and, on the corner, the back of Dorothy Normans

The corner of North Street with Farm Yard. 2017
Before Churchill Square the frontage of the Western Road shops was level with what is now the Metro Bank at the end of North Street.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Circus Street update

Construction has at last started on the vacant Circus Street site. This follows the developer U+I  securing funding for the delivery of the project with GCP Student Living plc, the UK’s first Real Estate Investment Trust focused on student residential accommodation, and Gravis Capital Management Limited.

A public-private partnership between U+I and Brighton & Hove City Council, this important £130 million project will see a derelict, former fruit and vegetable market in central Brighton transformed into a thriving new quarter and cultural destination for the city.

The development, designed by leading architects shedkm with TP Bennett, will create over 400 jobs and inject £200 million into the local economy over the next ten years.  It includes 142 new homes; 450 student bedrooms; 30,000 sq ft of new office space plus workshops offering creative businesses start-up accommodation and room to grow.

Central to the Circus Street designs is a new public square, with restaurants and shops targeted at independent businesses, creating  new retail and leisure destination for the city. A state-of-the-art dance space will open onto the square and provide a new home for South East Dance, a leading arts organisation and charity.

Brighton & Hove City Council has sold part of the site to the University of Brighton for their plans to be brought forward at a later date.

British firm Henry Construction has been appointed as contractor standing out for their emphasis on offering local jobs and apprenticeships for young people on the construction. Henry has previously worked on The Boiler House at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, another of U+I’s regeneration projects and has also worked on important London regeneration projects including King’s Cross and North Acton.

Piling is currently underway and the majority of the buildings on site will complete in 2019.

Earlier post: Circus Street scheme approved.

Monday, 7 August 2017