West Hill’s ‘Character Statement’

Most residents of the West Hill will know that they live in a conservation area but may not be aware of the ‘Character Statement’ that the Council adopted for it in 2005. The purpose of the 9 page document is to describe the history and character of the area and to provide a context for policies contained in the City’s Development Plan. The City’s latest Development Plan (Part 1) has been revised and adopted this year, whilst Part 2 (more policy detail) is being discussed now, with a view to adoption in 2019.

There are no proposals to revise our area’s character statement but given its very nature, revisions should not, in any case, be required, except in minor details. This does, of course, assume that the character of the area is properly conserved, but, sadly, there are continual threats to it. Mostly, it is householders making inappropriate alterations: such as fitting plastic windows and doors visible from the street; or fixing satellite dishes to the front elevation; but sometimes the culprit is the Council’s own Highways Dept, eg the proposal to convert Terminus Road into a taxi rank, and its habit of putting tarmac on our pavements, and then cluttering them with un-necessary signs!

Currently, the only major development is at the corner of Buckingham Road and Upper Gloucester Road. This will create about twenty flats in a new block on the site of the 1980s day centre, which is to be demolished, and will also restore the adjacent four town houses. It is interesting to note the comments on this building in the Character Statement. “…a large modern building built of light coloured concrete blocks which replaced a building marked as Brighton Grammar School on the 1876 map. This building seems to merge with the streetscape along Buckingham Road (although the slate hanging to the upper floors is perhaps a little heavy) but is very discordant when viewed from Upper Gloucester Road”. It is always difficult to know from a planning application just how a building will look when built but let us hope that the replacement will “preserve or enhance”  the character of our area. We shall see.

Jim Gowans


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