Hove Civic Society

When Miss Ella Boyce-Stamper floated some balloons in her garden, she captured the imagination of a community.

It’s difficult to say whether or not a precedent is being set on New Church Road currently for a second wave of large flatted developments. The demolition of the Nuffield Hospital and recent construction of the gargantuan Coast development has resulted in a rather pleasing structure even though it does have many snagging problems, at ground level in particular. Further towards town, plans were controversially approved late last year for a pair of blocks to replace the Westbourne Hospital. Demolition was swift – a great opportunity was lost. It’s not certain what else is in the pipeline for the road. It is certain though that public resistance to the first wave of blocks led to the formation of Hove Civic Society in 1961.

The purpose of the balloon hoist was to show how high a proposed seven-storey replacement building at 15 New Church Road would be. A meeting at Miss Boyce-Stamper’s house, 9 New Church Road, resulted in the formation of the Society. The building went ahead though, which is why we’re now stuck with the drab Pembroke Court instead of the detached mansion that was there previously. Many other campaigns have been fought since but the greatest single battle took place during the 1960s. That’s not to say that things are quiet today but a single particular scheme that would have transformed Hove forever was defeated.

The ramps at the foot of Adelaide Crescent may be a little battered but they are without doubt an integral component of the famous Regency composition. It’s amazing to think that Hove Council once wanted to demolish them. Even worse, it wanted to replace them with road so that the end result would be a six-lane highway on Hove seafront. Years of campaigning led to a victory for the Society and, ultimately, the people of Hove.

The purpose of Hove Civic Society is to stimulate community interest in the beauty, history and character of Hove and its surroundings. Ian Crossman, the Chairman, told me, "The challenges to our politicians, planners and developers are formidable; they need advice from well informed local people." There aren’t many people in a better position to give such advice.

On top of its important planning work, Hove Civic Society arranges a varied programme of events throughout the year. See www.hovecivicsociety.org for details.