Friday, July 27, 2007

plans for brighton

Brighton, my home town, has changed a lot since I moved here nearly ten years ago. It has a bright and successful (if rather deadening) shopping centre (Churchilll Square), a beautiful and much-loved new library in the North Laine, a variety of attractive new residential buildings. All of this without losing its scruffy, individual charm. There are plenty more developments lined up, too - the New England district, having been a wasteland sprouting cranes for several years, is coming together, a tall and impressive observational tower (the i360) will shortly be built on the sea front, and the beautiful and controversial Gehry buildings are finally approved. The Brighton Centre and Odeon, two ugly spots on the otherwise beautiful seafront, will be demolished soon, apparently. Most recently, the Local communities secretary, Hazel Blears, finally gave the go-ahead for Brighton and Hove Albion to build an attractive new stadium in Falmer, just outside the city. This is wonderful news for Brighton. Next on the list, I assumed, was the old pier, still standing forlorn in the water, a burned out shell of its former glory.

But no, it seems like the ever changing city will be developed in an unexpected fashion, next, if Council plans are given the go-ahead. The Evening Argus this week revealed a selection of exciting plans to renovate the three major gateways to the city, Preston Road, London Road and Lewes Road, long run-down and neglected parts of our town. The proposals - which at the moment are just that - look genuinely promising, and if a third of what is planned is completed it will be a great step forwards. The plans are outlined below. Thoughts from Brighton residents or interested observers are most welcome.

Lewes Road - this rather unattractive thoroughfare of the city, on the way out to the universities, has long been the most affordable area for student housing, and is at present a busy but unappealing road consisting mostly of funeral parlours, takeaways and budget grocers. The council plan to turn this area into an academic corridor, adding a public square at the Vogue Gyratory, demolishing Sainsburys and the petrol station and encouraging improved shop fronts. They intend to line the road with trees, ban fast food outlets and move Moulescombe station southwards to join it better with the city.

London Road - the closest that Brighton has to a suburban shopping street, London Road is ripe for regeneration sitting as it does in a valley, making high rise development feasible in a city which is famously protective of its skyline. To the west of the high street, the council has already invested in a dense outcrop of buildings, centred on a new Sainsburys, which they hope will provide a new focus for local jobs. But far from reimagining London Road as a financial district, the council see it, post-development, as a new arts district. It's the soon-to-close St Peter's Church which will serve as the catalyst, as it is soon to be converted into a 'cultural centre', complete with art studios. Elsewhere, the open market, a crucial but run-down part of town, will be completely redeveloped and renovated. The approach to the seafront will be transformed into a "green boulevard leading from The Level to the seafront, cutting the fourlane carriageway to the west down to a bus lane and moving all other traffic to the east". There'll be a new car park, too, traffic fans.

Lastly, Preston Road, the main approach to the city, will be similarly redeveloped, focusing on fixing the unused or innapropriate commercial properties and developing the viaduct into a proper Brighton landmark, complete with 'imaginative lighting' and space for 'creative business looking for bespoke accommodation in a high quality, unusual environment".

This all sounds like a lot of work, but (with the possible exception of the Lewes Road 'academic corridor', which may house a lot of students and be on the university route, but which hasn't in the last ten years supported a single bookshop) it all sounds plausible and beneficial to the city, If some of these proposals are carried out Brighton will be all the better for it,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there just thought you may be interested in this site as you seem interested in new development projects going on in the city currently -

It is a forum (called skyscrapercity) for the discussion of new developments around the world, and Brighton has it's own thread in the UK section of the site, it would be great to hear your views on all things to do with Brighton projects.

Hope to hear from you soon.

A brighton forumer.