Hove Station Redevelopment

Overcrowding, smallpox, cows, ‘unusually offensive’ manure, drunken fights and funfairs defined the neighbourhood to the south-west of Hove Station during Victorian times.

Although bus-related activities have taken place in the area since those days, it was the opening of the enlarged and remodelled bus depot on the north of the site in 1940 that saw the operation consolidated. 1965 was the year that demolition of the five-acre plot below the bus depot commenced, between Sackville Road, Ethel Street, Conway Street and Clarendon Road. Terraced housing, workshops and garage were replaced with four large residential blocks and several industrial units.

A proposal to demolish the bus depot and the industrial units to construct a nine-screen cinema, a climbing wall, a supermarket (Waitrose, I hope), offices, housing and a number of other bits and pieces is now in the process of being unveiled to and discussed with members of the public. It specifically involves the entirety of the four blocks which surround the Fonthill Road / Conway Street junction.

Andrew Lambor of local firm Matsim Properties is the man with the plans, and Nick Lomax and his team at Brighton-based LCE Architects have drawn them up. It is currently at the concept stage which means that now is really the time for neighbours and policy-makers to have their say. The planning stage is too late.

Seven years ago, when the country was spending more money than it had, there were major projects popping up in front of us left, right and centre. Ideas for the King Alfred, Black Rock, the Brighton Centre and the Marina came to nothing. Plans for inappropriate towers on the King Alfred seafront site gave major projects, especially those which involved tall buildings, a bad name.

This industrial location is quite different to the King Alfred in that there is no particular conservation angle nor are there buildings to the north. Any shadows that might be cast affect only a wide railway line. If the architecture is of a high quality, and it is accepted that more homes are needed, I can see little reason to not welcome this exciting proposal with open arms.

The King Alfred project was monikered the “tin-can towers’ but this scheme has not got a nickname yet, or even a name for that matter. Perhaps readers can help. I will publish any sensible, or amusing, suggestions that I receive in a column soon.