Newsletter, May 2014

Chairman’s letter

Dear Members

Having just come home from a number of trips abroad I almost started this newsletter with the words ‘Brighton and Hove is a dump’. Fortunately this is as yet an exaggeration – but I can’t help getting very irritated at the ease with which we accept a second best physical environment for this great and exciting city. The list of complaints and niggles I get to hear of is long and covers many details such as why we don’t maintain our Victorian street lights properly, why we have to replace fine granite kerbstones with cheap concrete replacements, why we don’t replace our street trees once they reach over-maturity, why we don’t replace them at a sustainable rate and why we don’t wash our streets like any self respecting French provincial town.  Each of these concerns are perhaps not that grave but once you put these and many others together you get a feeling of neglect and decline of our public realm.

I thought a lot about this when I was asked to appear at the Seafront Scrutiny Committee on behalf of the Conservation Advisory Group and the Society towards the end of March. As far as I can see the key challenge for the committee is to find ways of suggesting sustained funding for the upkeep (and improvements) to the seafront. A huge task where the current annual spend on the seafront is between £250 to £400K, whilst some of the repair works, such as the reconstruction of the arches on either side of the West Pier head, typically range in the millions.

I suggested to committee it was imperative that a fund was ring-fenced for maintenance of the seafront as this is the key show piece and attraction of the city. We heard that almost every visitor that came and stayed in Brighton and Hove visits the seafront – it needs to be well maintained, attractive, clean as it probably is one of the key economic drivers, if not the rationale, for the city.

I also argued that the buildings fronting the sea and their immediate hinterland, an almost unbroken line of conservation areas from Kemp Town to King Alfred, should be included in the definition of the seafront and that these areas, many of which are suffering a not so gentle decline, need to have detailed improvement plans if we are going to maintain and improve the attraction of the city – by ‘polishing the pearls’.

Where is the funding for all this going to come from? One avenue is to have detailed enhancement schemes which we then ask the large new developments along the seafront to co-fund for example through S106 agreements. Enhancement schemes should allow the city planners to link new developments to these much needed improvements and be able to secure additional funding. We are talking about improvements to pavements, street lights, tree and other planting, managing car parking to help bring out the attractions of the many conservation areas. This presupposes that the planners and the planning committee can see the urgency of progressing the many major development proposals along the seafront that often take far too long to materialise.

This is one of the reasons why I, in consultation with the officers of our committee, publicly expressed my support for the council approving the loan facility for the I360 – this decision is bound to revitalise an important part of our seafront and help generate income that in turn can be invested in further much needed improvements. So thank you again to both the Green administration and the Conservative Group for supporting this proposal.

Unfortunately I don’t believe that new developments on their own will deal with the funding shortfall we are likely to experience as council expenditure is reducing down to a level where we are told there will be no government grant by 2020. The council in its own publicity suggests that between £100 and £125 million will need to be saved in the next 5 years in addition to the £60 million already cut. I don’t believe anybody has completely grasped the implications of this for our vital services and for our local environment. It could become a massacre. Ultimately if we don’t want our city to become a real dump we will need to think of ways of making up that shortfall. Tourist tax on overnight stays, voluntary contributions by residents and businesses might have to be considered. One way or the other we will all have to pay – either by propping up our environment that we all love, by putting our hands in our pockets or by suffering the consequences of an acutely impoverished public realm.

With best wishes

Helmut Lusser

Planning update

Since the beginning of the year we have made a number of representations.

The draft Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan has been out for consultation. This closed on the 24th April. There is much in the plan which we support but we have asked the planners to give stronger emphasis to their notion that the harbour area should become a hub for renewable energy. We have suggested that a new section concentrating on energy is inserted in the plan and that this contains a number of policies that relate to how new development could bring about a higher level of renewable energy generation on site. We have also made the point that the waste heat from the power stations (Shoreham Power Station and Edgeley Green Power Station) should be harnessed as far as possible.

Our representations build on what we said in the context of the Brighton and Hove City Plan and the resulting modifications which we agreed with the City Council.

You can find the Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan here: http://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/media/media,121462,en.pdf .

Please click here for our full response (Word, 175.5KB).

Two major developments have come in front of the Conservation Advisory Group namely the Hippodrome and the rebuilding of the Lansdowne Place Hotel. We expressed our support for both developments at CAG but only made written representations as far as the Hippodrome is concerned as follows:

We welcome the proposed rescue of the Hippodrome and fully support the proposal. This is an important part of the City’s heritage and the works proposed are now urgently needed to prevent further decay of what is one of the most stunning domed structures in the City. We are convinced that it is unlikely that any public sector funding will become available to fund a restoration of the site or its use as a theatre and it therefore requires an imaginative development package to facilitate restoration.

We believe that the integrated package proposed by the developers is very imaginative and will make the site viable again. We also believe that the proposed footfall arising from the proposed cinemas and restaurants will be not much different from the visiting numbers which used to occur when the site operated first as a circus then theatre and finally as a bingo hall. We believe that the additional cinema block is well integrated and will not adversely impact on the surroundings of the site. We are very much taken by the potential for the main dome to be restored to a theatre at some time in the future should economic circumstances allow this. This potential reversibility of the changes in levels to the floor of the domed structure makes the proposal doubly attractive.  Whereas one could question the design of the proposed entrance and the new building corner Duke Street we would accept this as a small price to pay for an overwhelmingly positive proposal.

Hove is where the Art is

During the month of May the Artist Open House Festival will be in full swing with Hove Arts adding its own vibrant voice to the ensemble. This year Hove Arts Trail will be showcasing the works of over 100 local artists in a variety of intimate and working locations.

New and established artists will be welcoming the public into 10 of Hove’s beautiful homes, gardens, studios and workshops, inviting us to enjoy their works in these friendly, relaxed and inspirational environments.  Each venue offers a unique experience with an eclectic range of styles, subject matter and mediums; paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawings, prints, mixed media, furniture, jewellery, glass, textiles – and more!

The Hove Arts Trail offers visitors the rare opportunity to view and purchase art works directly from their creators.  You can also tour working studios and workshops to gain further insight into how some of the works are produced.  

All the stops on the trail are within walking distance of each other and the Hove Trail Passport handily points the way round.  Now all you have to decide is where your journey into the fascinating and beautiful world of these local artists begins.  For the full list of venues and trail map visit the Hove Arts website www.hovearts.co.uk

Reminders from the Membership Secretary

Subscriptions

If you have forgotten that subscriptions were due on January 1st and have not already paid yours please send it to the treasurer (£12 for one person and £20 for two persons) Andrew Haicalis at Flat 6, 32 St Aubyns, Hove, BN3 2TD. Cheques should be made payable to “Hove Civic Society”. Once again I encourage you to pay by Standing Order to reduce administration costs. The Standing Order form can be downloaded from the website and should be forwarded to Andrew. If you do not have the facility to download the form get in touch with me on 01273 417303 and I will one to you.

E-mail addresses

Thank you to all those who have given us an e-mail address. This is most helpful. However, currently we only have the addresses of about one third of our membership. We should be grateful if you do have an e-mail and are prepared to receive the newsletter and e-mails to update you by this means please send your address to me at angelahamish@btinternet.com. If you change your e-mail address please let me know so that I may update the list. If you have received a hard copy of this newsletter and believe we have your e-mail address if may be because I have an error in it so please send an e-mail so that I may check. Thank you so much.

Angela F. Turner, Membership Secretary

Programme of Summer Events 2014

The Festival is in full swing so we have avoided the month of May for HCS events! We have planned three so far, one in June and two in July. Please look on the website from time to time because we are exploring other possibilities as well.

Here is an outline of each event and you are asked to book places as soon as possible by email or post, using the information below.

Solar Power in St. George’s Church, Kemp Town

5th June 2014 at 6pm

Brighton Energy Co-op is the south of England’s largest community funded renewable energy scheme. It has so far raised more than £700,000 from local people to install solar panels on buildings in Brighton and Hove, including St. George’s Church. On our visit to the church Brighton Energy Co-op’s founder and director, Will Cottrell, will talk about how he became inspired to set up a community energy scheme, how the Co-op works and what the benefits of this approach are to local people. Father Andrew Manson-Brailsford will talk about the architecture and history of the church and how its involvement with the Co-op is helping the church to thrive. There are many steps up to the roof should anyone want to see the solar panels in situ, but those who can’t manage the climb will have an opportunity to spend more time downstairs in the building. It is estimated that the visit will last a little more than an hour and a half.

As an optional extra you may wish to join us for supper in a Kemp Town restaurant afterwards.

Visit to the Newhaven Lifeboat Station

10th July 2014 at 2pm

In February many members attended the HCS lecture given by Margaret Kimber about the work of the RNLI nationally and locally. Our trip has been arranged with the support of the visits officer at the Newhaven Lifeboat Station, Brian Baker, and we will be able to go there on a normal working day. Unless our programme is cut short due to an emergency call out of the boat, a Severn Class all-weather lifeboat, we will have a talk about its activities, its crew and the local people involved in the saving of life at sea. There will be a chance to watch films of actual rescues at sea carried out by the RNLI. This will be followed by an escorted tour of the lifeboat (not at sea!) to see the crew control bridge, the survivors’ cabin, the engine room and the deck area.

The RNLI is a charity so donations from individuals will be welcome – any cheques made payable to the RNLI.

The optional extra will be a walk around the historic site of the Bishopstone tide mills – allow at least two hours for this and prepare to enjoy the atmosphere of the Ouse estuary. This could be either after the RNLI visit or in the morning – we will ask for preferences from those who book for the tour.

Special Tour of West Blatchington Windmill

24th July 2014 at 2pm

During his March lecture, Peter Hill kindly offered to show HCS members around the windmill, and have tea in the Barn - thus providing an alternative for those who cannot manage all the stairs easily. Given Peter’s extensive knowledge and his commitment to our Hove windmill, this promises to be a truly special tour.

 West Blatchington Mill relies solely on donations for its maintenance and publicity so there will be an opportunity to contribute as individuals.

Clare Tikly and Ina Dincheva

Keep in Touch

Your committee is keen to communicate with you as much as possible – we encourage all members to get in touch with their ideas, comments and suggestions, and if you have time to spare we would be glad to welcome you on to one of our project groups.

We are also looking at new ways to keep you up-to-date with our work and highlight opportunities for greater involvement. So please…

• Send an email to: info@hovecivicsociety.org ...and we will add you to our email list

• Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hovecivicsociety

• Follow us on: Twitter @LoveHove