97 New Church Road

As I often walk along New Church Road to my mum’s, I’ve gotten to know most of the houses pretty well. One nicely-proportioned detached property, seemingly stone-clad, always struck me as being particularly ripe for transformation.

Much to my pleasure, several quality elements were added within a relatively short space of time including a slate roof, exterior cedar panelling (orange fading to a roof-matching grey), galvanised steel drainpipes and a smooth render coat on top of the building’s structural concrete block wall (not stone-cladding after all). Shortly afterwards, the twin bays which made up most of the façade were ripped off entirely.

Barry and Fiona Foley have owned 97 New Church Road, a four bedroom 1930s detached house, for around 15 years but it wasn’t until mid-2007 when they teamed up with Martin Swatton (www.martinswatton.com), an award-winning graphic designer, that its true potential came to light. I had seen Martin’s own house on Channel 5’s I Own Britain’s Best Home and in several national papers. A glazed extension on the back of the Foleys’ home overlooking a soon to be remodelled garden is certainly breath-taking and its cleverly-designed ceiling with recessed lighting may well be my favourite feature (just ahead of the locally-produced tulip wood and glass interior doors).

There is no doubt that 97 New Church Road does not match its neighbours. In an area where there is a high architectural style in place, Brunswick Town for example, it would be entirely inappropriate. However, given its setting amongst an array of inconspicuous buildings, it’s right that it stands out. Such buildings in this context add drama. Are there many other examples around the City? The Lanterns are a striking (but strangely identical) pair of houses on Tongdean Avenue and 5 Dyke Road Avenue, a bungalow conversion, is a beautiful gadget-packed eco-house. Thankfully, there are more.

Much of New Church Road was built between the late Victorian period and the 1930s with Brooker Hall (now the Hove Museum) and Aldrington House as two great examples. A modern building with a pleasing exterior, hopefully a future column topic, is tucked away behind a large building near Richardson Road but you have to really look to find it.

Martin thinks that the project will be completed in about a month but then the original plan was simply to update the hallway so who knows what might change? Whatever happens, it’ll be dramatic.