PortZED

Bill Dunster is perhaps best known as the architect behind Beddington Zero Energy Development – “BedZED” – in Hackbridge that was completed in 2002. As much as I was pleased to escape my home town of Croydon in 1998, I certainly would have been fascinated to see that scheme being built if I had stayed.

In conjunction with developer Colin Brace and architect Alan Phillips, Dunster has been working on an equally exciting scheme to bring hardcore eco construction to Hove. After a well-publicised and long-running planning battle, “PortZED”, was refused permission earlier this month. The proposal consisted of a series of six blocks of five-storeys on Kingsway (more storeys if measured from Basin Road North in Shoreham Port below).

Aesthetically, I do rather like PortZED but I do take the point that it is far too domineering in its current state. Worries about height and bulk can at least now be tackled by Colin and his team. As a Dunster scheme, it is no surprise that there are eco features aplenty. Most interestingly of these are the sets of helical wind turbines that are mounted between the buildings. The turbines can take full advantage of the city’s south-westerly wind due to the orientation of the blocks. Each faces the south-west in the way that a plane’s wing cuts through the skies ahead.

During the planning process, I have been somewhat fixated by what is going on between the proposed blocks; not so much because I am taken by the turbines, but more because I am adamant that views must be preserved. In this case, turning the buildings to the south-west reduces the precious views from Kingsway.

If I had to make a choice, I would pick a tall scheme with gaps over a low terraced scheme. After all, the low buildings to the east of the site offer no views whatsoever. As such, I will be campaigning for more to be made of the gaps between the blocks, which would involve removing clutter, but also for gaps to be left at either end of the site.

All things considered, it was correct of Brighton & Hove City Council to reject this application as it has some way to go before it is a development of which everybody – particularly those living nearby – can be proud. I have every confidence that the necessary adjustments will now be made to make this a reality.