Old Market Planning

Every time I pass the Old Market in Hove, there’s something going on. But despite the huge number of events held there, the building’s owners are in serious financial trouble.

The Old Market is owned and run by the Old Market Trust which was set up in 1997. The problems of today began when a number of unpredicted items during the initial conversion caused an overspend of £1.2 million. The Trust now hopes to construct two penthouse flats and sell them to eradicate as much of what is now a £1.1 million debt as possible. An application from the Trust was turned down in May and an appeal is now underway. However, a second application is to be considered on 15th October.

Charles Augustin Busby’s original market building opened in 1828 as a prized component of his Brunswick Town composition. It was not successful in its intended form and had become a riding school by the 1850s. Alfred Dupont ran the building from the 1870s and the success of his business continued well into the 20th century. During the 1950s, bacon and ham were smoked there; during the 1960s, it was used as a warehouse; and, since the 1970s, it has been used as an arts centre in various forms.

The market was in fact a single storey structure and extra floors were added by the riding school. An unambitious yet fairly inoffensive extension was added in 1997. Both penthouse applications basically involve the addition of a new sleek glass floor onto the top of the building in a deliberately contrasting modern style.

I do wonder whether or not it is right to extend the building at all and also if another less radical design would be more appropriate. What will happen though if the Trust’s debts are not seen to and the building ends up derelict? These are issues which will no doubt be discussed on the 15th. If the venue was ever empty, I wouldn’t be too bothered but the fact remains, forgetting the debts from the 1990s for one moment, that the venture is viable on a day-to-day basis.

Stephen Neiman and Caroline Brown along with an exceptional in-house team work tirelessly to keep the Old Market above water. Although I think that the plans could be further improved, I’m acutely aware of what’s at stake. We certainly don’t want another Astoria or Hippodrome on our hands.