Salisbury

If Brighton & Hove is to have a policy on its built environment that is worthy of its rich heritage, lessons must be learnt from other places where procedures are in place that do work well. Take Salisbury for example.

Upon learning that the spire of Salisbury Cathedral is the UK’s tallest, I was looking forward to something special. At 123 metres, the Cathedral is the tallest medieval structure in the world yet amazingly its foundations are just 4 feet deep. As impressive as its dominance is, the fine collection of individual houses of The Close facing it is truly divine and captures the true essence of Englishness. Indeed, ‘Arundells’ on the Westside was the home of former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath.

Salisbury is technically a city but it’s nothing like Brighton & Hove. In fact, it is more like Lewes in terms of size, atmosphere and layout. There is an interesting connection between Salisbury and Hove though – Churchill. Hove was where Sir Winston Churchill went to school and the small room at the front of the Haunch of Venison pub in Salisbury was where he and General Dwight Eisenhower met whilst planning the D-Day landings. Although Salisbury itself is steeped in history, a nearby ancient monument – one of the planet’s most important – was simply unmissable.

The history of Stonehenge is extensive to say the least but I found the human level of investigation and repair over the years fascinating. Mile Oak at the top of Portslade once had a henge of its own that was discovered when the A27 was built. All that remains is an exhibition in Foredown Tower on the matter. There is much debate on whether or not a tunnel should be constructed for the busy road beside Stonehenge; similar, in fact, to the battle that raged which led to the construction of the A27’s Southwick Tunnel. I’d be inclined to say that it shouldn’t be built. Tunnels may hide ugly roads but they are inflexible, expensive and susceptible to grottiness. Trees shielding roads in ditches would be preferable in my eyes.

Nearly £16 million has been spent on Salisbury Cathedral since an appeal was founded in 1986 and there are still ten years to go before the project is complete. There is a lesson here for the crumbling St. Peter’s Church, the closest that Brighton & Hove has to a cathedral of its own.