Jim Gowans, WHCA’s rep on the Conservation Advisory Group, assesses local developments…
Further planning applications have been made recently, most of which seem to have little harmful effect on the listed Grade 2 building. The design of a proposed storage building on platform 8 seems to enhance the existing structures with its replication of traditional timber shiplap elevations. It is concerning, however, that kerb stones and terrazzo floor tiling laid relatively recently is likely to be dug up in order to comply with health and safety requirements. No wonder ticket prices continue to rise and huge public subsidies are still demanded.
31-33 Bath Street
An application to replace the three ‘live-work units’ with three self-contained flats and three separate business units has been made. This request to abandon ‘live-work units’ is no surprise. The concept of ‘live-work units’ seems to be something of a gimmick sometimes used to introduce residential development into sites designated for employment. The idea that living above the shop or workshop reduces the need to travel and therefore saves the planet is attractive, but if living accommodation and place of work have to be sold as one unit the chances of finding a buyer or tenant are reduced. Whilst the present application offers a more practical arrangement of separate work space and living space it will be interesting to see how the ground floor units are used for business. The plans show no toilet or washing facilities so options appear limited.
26A West Hill Road (former Pickett Garage site)
To the dismay of neighbours the application to build a four bedroomed house with a hard standing for cars has been approved by a government planning inspector. Little account seems to have been taken of existing building lines or the policies which are intended to protect the conservation area.
The City Council objected to the proposals but these objections were swept aside, as were representations of neighbours who voted 20:1 against the development. The government’s planning inspectorate and the recently introduced National Planning Policy Framework are becoming increasingly unpopular in Sussex and the South East, in particular.
Brighton and Hove City Council has written to the Secretary of State Eric Pickles and the Planning Minister Nick Boles, expressing its deep-seated concerns about the way in which communities are being locked out of planning decisions, whilst the residents of Balcombe, who believe that local views have not been given sufficient weight in deciding the fracking issue, are taking their case to the high court.