Wykeham Terrace and Ice Rink Site

There are several examples of Regency Gothic in Brighton & Hove of which Wykeham Terrace is no doubt the finest. Its residents are worried though.

Behind the thirteen houses of Wykeham Terrace is situated the west side of Queen Square, that dreadful cul-de-sac between the Clock Tower and Churchill Square where taxis queue to pass through what seems to be Brighton’s most confusing set of traffic lights.

I well recall the ice rink at the top of Queen Square. The 60ft by 40ft rink was a little cosy at time but certainly enjoyable. I last skated there around twelve years ago and got soaked when I fell over in the water that should have been ice. Prior to the opening of the ice rink in 1970, the rather drab building served as a Territorial Army drill hall.

Queen Square currently looks odd – characterless actually – without a focal point at its northern end. The derelict ice rink is squat and featureless after all. A taller building at the top would be most acceptable, desirable even. A planning application has been submitted for a replacement structure by the reputable local architect Paul Zara of Conran & Partners on behalf of The Light Brighton LLP. The concerns of residents about the architectural elements of the proposed are exacerbated by their unease over the intended occupier.

The Light Boutique ApartHotel in Manchester offers 46 so-called ‘apartments’ for business travellers, families and party-goers – and terraces with hot-tubs and stereo systems. Such a hotel so close to the meticulously-maintained buildings of Wykeham Terrace would be a nightmare. But as long as the much smaller Brighton offshoot takes the most desirable elements of the Manchester tower, it could become an asset. There is strong opposition though so here is my alternative.

The new building should be no taller than the existing houses of Queen Square and the logical building line at their rear should be embraced so that the hotel is set back from Wykeham Terrace. 11 Queen Square should be refurbished rather than demolished. There should certainly be no outdoor tubs or sound systems, especially with St Nicholas’ Churchyard so close. Whilst I am keen to see much of what is planned toned down, I would like to see the proposed bland façade given a radical overhaul.

I’ve seen The Light and I’m not afraid. The residents of Wykeham Terrace will take a little more convincing.