Letters to The Whistler

Dear Editor

Now that the Seven Dials area has been greatly improved with the new road layout and the removal of railings etc, there is one building that spoils the effect and that is the Co-op on the corner of Dyke Road and Buckingham Place, where the ground floor windows are blocked up, giving a run-down, derelict look to that part of the road. I wonder if the Association in its official capacity could perhaps try and persuade the Co-op to fit some dummy windows here. The cost would be very little to a company of that size but I think it would surely have a great improving effect on the look of the area. Yours sincerely,

G.Finn, Dyke Road

[We have spoken to the manager of the Co-op and she has taken up your suggestion with her manager. We await their response – Ed]

Dear Editors

I was wondering if anyone else in the West Hill area is being disturbed by the noise of buskers around Brighton station.

Over recent months, there seems to have been a considerable increase in busker activity. Some continue for a considerable period of time and sometimes there is a succession of them.

We live a little way up the hill and moved there deliberately to a house within easy reach of the station. We accepted that it would not be the quietest part of town. I also do not want to sound as though I am against busking per se. My objection is that most of them appear to use amplifiers meaning that not only can we hear them in our street, we can often hear them inside the house with the windows shut. This is particularly invasive during the working day when we’re working from home.

The City’s busking advice leaflet requires buskers to play at a reasonable level so that it is audible only to passers-by in the vicinity. The rules also say that amplification is not permitted nor is drumming – there is the occasional performance by a drumming group, which is especially loud. Performances are also supposed to be limited to one hour but this is often not the case.

The Council says that anybody may ask a busker to stop if they are disturbed by loud, continued or repeated singing or playing instruments or amplifiers. However, I would feel very uncomfortable asking buskers to stop, fearful of them turning aggressive. There is a video on YouTube of a Brighton busker who refused to stop when asked to do so.

I have contacted the Council but have, as yet, received no reply. I was wondering if any other residents felt similarly or had experience of asking buskers to stop.

Name and address supplied

Dear Whistlers

I read your magazine with interest living in Alfred Road. I have a query about the conservation area where you may be able to help. Brighton & Hove Council no longer have conservation officers available to discuss issues and all they offer is an enforcement form, available online. This is primarily for additions or structures that have been erected without planning permission and does not cover the issues I am interested in.

The principal issue is the neglect of the property in which I live, and where I am a leaseholder. Years of inaction and lack of response from the freehold company have begun to take their toll. It is probable that repairs will now cost far more than would have been the case had the freehold company addressed the problem earlier.

My question is therefore:

Do you have any knowledge or insight into the conservation zone and access to information which might help me to resolve this issue?

There are other properties in an adjoining the street which are also in a similar state of neglect. The original walls, porches and steps are in danger of falling into such a state of disrepair the only option would be to demolish them. All of which is totally contrary to the principles of the conservation area.
If you have any contacts, within the area or at the Council, who may be able to help I would be very pleased to hear from you. Thanking you in advance.

Sincerely, David Graham

Dear David

Thank you for taking an interest in this problem and for drawing our attention to the houses in Alfred Road and nearby. Although conservation officers can still be contacted (with difficulty) to discuss such issues they are not considered of high priority. Even listed buildings are not now being properly protected using the available legislation. An example in West Hill is the grade 2 listed 47 Buckingham Place.

It is nevertheless important that you and others living in the immediate vicinity of the problem submit a “Complaint”. This can be done online. Complaints are all kept confidential by the Council, by the way.

I have copied the paragraph below from the Council’s website (follow: Planning-Heritage-Historic Buildings in Disrepair). This explains the position in simple terms. A dangerous structure is probably a matter for “Building Control” at the Council.

A more general power is available to the council under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This allows the service of a Notice if it is considered that the condition of a building or land is adversely affecting the amenity of an area. As ‘amenity’ is the key test, the scope of such notices is confined to visible parts of buildings and they cannot be used to require substantial restoration or structural repairs.

Jim Gowans, WHCA rep on the Conservation Advisory Group

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