Park House

An opportunity to restore an Edwardian gem and create a super new building on a landmark site between two parks presenting itself should be a cause for celebration. Instead, the gem faces demolition so that more dull flats can be built.

Park House, situated between Hove Park and Hove Recreation Ground, was built as a substantial detached residence. Today it sits derelict; not used since the previous occupant, Bellerbys College, relocated to Brighton Station some time back. A series of additional connected featureless blocks rudely interrupts the view over Hove Park. The site is still very green though and various trees, including some delightful yuccas, demonstrate what could be. Goldstone Crescent and the Old Shoreham Road to the west and south respectively may well be busy but a third road to the east, Hove Park Gardens, is a mysterious haven of wildlife.

I write having heard that our councillors have just turned down Hyde Martlet’s application to replace Park House with a solid five-storey block of 72 flats – and rightly so. It was one of those designs where strange angles and colours have been used to disguise a dearth of real detail. I strongly believe in the maintenance of an area’s character so naturally find it hard to support any proposal calling for flats within the Old Shoreham Road / Goldstone Crescent / King George VI Avenue / Dyke Road quadrant. Several examples already exist and each is completely out of character with its neighbours. This is not the way to create communities.

I first heard that Bellerbys had plans to move to new premises some years back when I worked for the surveying firm that was managing the then derelict site by Brighton Station. I actually manned the car park there for two hours before work each day (and was paid more than my daily wage for my trouble!). Bellerbys really is a local success story and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. With over 60 classrooms and around 400 bedrooms, its new base really is astounding.

If money was no object, I probably would demolish the lot and build a great house with a belvedere on the top tall enough to see the sea and the entirety of the parks. I would plant a few more yuccas. Under no circumstances though would I advocate the replacement of Park House with the 2000s equivalent of the worst of the 1960s.