Sackville Hotel Neo-Regency Proposal

I had high hopes for the Sackville Hotel in 2004 when its owners announced refurbishment plans with a view to regaining its five-star status. The building mysteriously collapsed in 2006 during the works.

The empty site has sat in a state of dreadfulness ever since it was swiftly cleared of debris. Like all development sites around Brighton & Hove (including several eyesores on the West Hove seafront), each planning application is an opportunity to create the modern equivalent of the architectural triumphs of the past.

Previous seafront triumphs include a number of groundbreaking architectural treats. 1798 saw the commencement of the construction of Brighton’s first unified composition, Royal Crescent, consisting of a series of Georgian townhouses faced with black mathematical tiles on the eastern seafront. Brunswick Town and Kemp Town followed during the 1820s as self-contained Regency settlements. The yellow-brick West Brighton Estate of Grand Avenue and its neighbouring boulevards followed during the 1870s as a fine example of late Victorian splendour.

Not a single one of these developments did not borrow ideas from buildings of the past. Indeed, the Regency style is essentially a Georgian take on the buildings of ancient Greece and Roman. But each development was true to the style of the day.

Representing the best of the Edwardian period, The Lawns was built on the Hove seafront in 1904 as a terrace of four glorious townhouses. By the 1920s, they had become a hotel which, after several name changes, became the Sackville Hotel.

A planning application was recently submitted for five new townhouses on the site with a detached house behind. Although I do not support the proposed communal underground car park, I am certainly in favour of the general concept of individual houses on the site. There is a problem though.

The architect in question, Alan Phillips, appears to have abandoned all of his principles to hoodwink the neighbours into supporting a scheme that ‘fits in’. Instead of pushing for a graceful and respectable design in the style of our day, he has opted for a box with, essentially, a fake Regency house stuck on the front. The Regency period actually began in June 1811 – that’s 200 years ago!

Giving Brighton & Hove a poor quality Neo-Regency building in a predominantly Victorian and Edwardian area insults our intelligence. Ideas for a suitable Regency punishment to this architectural crime should be sent to the planning department.