Take a look at Lewes Road in Brighton the next time you are in the city and if you haven’t been in a while you will be surprised.
The feeling of space of this road between the Bates estate and the Vogue roundabout has practically disappeared. Instead, there are new no-compromise office blocks, retail warehouses, and student apartments crammed into the neighborhood, making it look like mini Manhattan rather than Moulsecoomb.
There are jobs provided by the University of Brighton, private companies and the city council at a rate not seen since the sixties.
Some of us applauded when the polytechnic became a university and started competing with Sussex a mile down the road. We asked both institutions to provide student accommodation and they did.
We looked a little gloomy when Sussex created a suburb extending far into the South Downs for its student houses. But at least they were bland enough to blend in with the background.
Head to the end of Mile Oak in Portslade and you’ll see new homes perched on a hill. They will be a stain on the rural landscape for years to come.
In addition, people who are unlucky to live there will be assaulted day and night by the noise of the Brighton bypass.
Brighton has been a cramped town since it began centuries ago as a fishing village. The small houses were nestled against the cliff to protect themselves from severe storms.
Some of the slums erected in the 19th century were also overcrowded, and Sun Street next to Edward Street was so narrow that it only received sunlight for two hours a day at best.
The square mile comprising Marine Parade and Elm Grove was the busiest in the south-east outside of London. This area included cemeteries and I think the dead have more space than the living.
The councilors decided to demolish the slums from the 1930s. In the beginning, the replacement houses were spacious and each had a rear garden the size of a subdivision so that tenants could be self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables.
Then, in the 1960s, the first skyscrapers were built in the Albion Hill area, obscuring the view of the Royal Pavilion.
They were remarkably ugly but at least a few areas of green were provided around their bases.
This was more than could be said for the monumental blocks that followed them once the skyscrapers were deemed unsuitable for the habitation of children. They were lower but bulky and off-putting. In Hove, the skyscrapers built on Clarendon Road were originally intended to descend to Clarendon Villas, but they were so hideous that the council immediately stopped.
But now new skyscrapers are under construction. They have already appeared at the marina where they will rise much higher than the cliffs.
There are more going back inland – not just Lewes Road but London Road as well. All of these developments will provide welcome housing and jobs. But they are changing Brighten’s face, and not for the better.
Why do most skyscrapers have to look so simple and gaunt? Brighton doesn’t expect to see an Empire State Building on the waterfront, but it surely deserves a better design than it has. Valuable green space is also being wasted all the time in favor of extensions and it is amazing how big it can be before needing a building permit.
A minor monstrosity was erected this summer from a house near my home in West Hove. It does not affect me directly in addition to being an architectural aberration but it dominates the neighboring houses.
All day long, white vans fill the streets of the suburbs and the gardens are turned into parking lots. Traffic is increasing, with some side streets being busier than many main roads 20 years ago.
The government continues to tell councils like Brighton and Hove that they must meet tougher targets to build hundreds of more homes.
Yet there is less land available in the city by the sea than in almost any other area outside of the major metropolitan areas. Things have reached such a bad state that many households are rebuilding their homes to create more space. It will surely not be long before the first planning applications are submitted to build vast basements under houses as is already happening in London.
Quite ordinary suburban semi-trailers in Hove sell, often to wealthy Londoners, for over a million pounds. This forces the local population. The government should restrict new housing in the city, unless it is affordable housing. This will allow Brighton and Hove to breathe again.
There is a lot of land available in much of the Midlands and the North. Let these sites relieve Brighton and Hove, allowing them to breathe again.
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This notice was published: 2021-08-26 05:00:00