Gardens & wildlife

Richmond House 2013 1st Proposal evaluation

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See also details of Richmond House 2013 1st Proposal

Richmond House
BH2013/00197 - Richmond House, Richmond Road, Brighton

Members of Brighton and Hove's planning committee were unanimous in their decision to refuse this unsuitable development.

They agreed with local residents that it was unsuitable in height, amount, use, materials, and would have an unreasonable impact on the infrastructure, amenity, character and appearance of the adjoining Round Hill conservation area. Furthermore, little thought had been given to the accesses for such a large development (visitors; refuse collection; moving in & moving out), neither was there evidence of a well thought out management plan.

Before one of the officers acknowledged receipt of a message that the owner of the Sainsbury service road was denying access to the ground-level entrances of the proposed 5-storey block, it was clear that this application was already doomed. The developers lamented the officers' refusal to engage them in further discussion and asked for the application to be deferred until this opportunity was given. However, the officer at the meeting explained that there were fundamental objections in principle to this proposal, which could not be tweaked. To pretend that they could, would merely waste both the Council's and the developer's time.

Both the quality and the thoroughness of the Case Officer's report was facilitated by a strong residents' campaign, based around D'Aubigny Road and Richmond Road.

Two Councillors, including ward Cllr Ian Davey, focused on the fact that Richmond House was last in commercial use just 6 months ago. It was felt that the existing building was still in good enough condition for further commercial use and that this would be preferable to the proposed use. The developer was questioned as to whether the proposed student use was for "overseas students". Although the developer claimed support from one of the city's universities, this did not seem to come from a mainstream university department. The developer confirmed this by saying that the proposed occupants were unlikely to have cars, but a member of the planning committee doubted that a development of this scale would not draw a large number of motor vehicles.

The decision gives a strong signal to the developer to go back to the drawing board.

The campaign against this 1st 2013 proposal Details of the 5 & 3 storey buildings proposed. The proposal is to demolish Richmond House (the two-storey building at the junction of Richmond Rd and D'Aubigny Road) and to replace it with two buildings: one of 5 storeys providing 129 studio rooms and the other of 3 storeys providing 15 'cluster rooms'

Although objecting to unsuitable proposals gives residents insight into the planning system, most of us would prefer not to have long stalemates with developers which result in planning blight if they are allowed to continue.

Round Hill has shown itself to be a caring community with neighbourly values and it would be good if a developer could offer us a proposal on a reasonable scale which taps into readily available resources. We have nurses and social workers among our local residents as well as people who have excellent IT and administration skills. We are also badly in need of a focal point (e.g. some community space within another enterprise) where residents could work, volunteer or just meet. A permanent venue for resident's association meetings would be very good for the neighbourhood - a space where community efforts could be co-ordinated. A developer who truly wants to give something to a neighbourhood, should find Round Hill receptive, though a really good proposal would need to be forthcoming to justify demolition of the existing Richmond House.

Help to find a better planning brief for Richmond House and
avoid another long and costly stalemate

Example: Extra Care Housing of Community Care Home

Would it not be better if Round Hill residents who know their own community were given a role in finding a suitable planning brief for the Richmond House site.

Transport assessments which fail the public

186-space proposal prescribes mass cycling at an accident blackspot

The transport assessment offered in support of this unsuitable "car-free" proposal refuses to look at the accident data available from the police. Instead, it serves its client (not the public interest) by hiding behind the hope that a new road scheme will reduce the accident rate and justify adding many more cyclists to streets where traffic density is already dangerously high and air quality is notably poor.

Review the proposal & decision
at Brighton and Hove City Council's website.

Sample letters used & adapted
1. Example: letter 1 (Microsoft Word .DOC)
2. Example: letter 2 (Microsoft Word .DOC) - more detailed

Dear Round Hill resident

BH2013/00197 - Richmond House, Richmond Road, Brighton

A major planning application has been submitted to the council which will affect you and your family. The plan includes demolishing Richmond House offices on the corner of Richmond and Daubigny Rd and in its place constructing accommodation for 144 students in the form of two buildings, one five storeys high, the other three storeys. Three entrances to the buildings are proposed, one from Daubigny Rd, another from Richmond Rd and the third from Hughes Rd.

Richmond House
The developer's pictures of the Hughes Road and Richmond Rd sides of the 5-storey building are on pages 17 & 18 of Access & Design Statement respectively. These pictures fail to show the disproportionate size of the development in relation to the size of the building they propose to demolish.

The burden that such a large development would have on Round Hill, which is already densely populated is concealed through failure to be up front about how the 129 studio rooms would be serviced, whether there would be any expectation of the occupants having friends & families who visit them, and the notion that a "car-free development" never needs to be serviced by motor vehicles (e.g. furnished with personal belongings or evacuated). Refuse & recycling for all 144 rooms would need to be done from Richmond Rd and D'Aubigny Rd.

If successful, we believe this application will have a major negative impact on the character and quality of life in Round Hill for residents. It will effectively create a large ‘student hotel’ which:

• Will create a material nuisance for residents in Daubigny and Richmond Rd through a major increase of traffic (on foot and car/lorries) from 144 students using the closest entrances to Brighton city centre and for the refuse/recycling collections and deliveries for the whole site (especially when parents are delivering/collecting students at the start/end of each term as there is no parking near the alternative small entrance in Hughes Rd).

• Has 72 window individual student room windows, common rooms and an outside communal space opening onto Daubigny & Richmond Rd , all of which will increase noise in a very quiet residential area.

• Is designed on a massive scale, crams in students and, through its height and design, visually detracts from the unique architecture of the conservation area it fronts onto.

Sketch - multiple accesses

See The Design & Access Statement (PDF 14/21 or page 16 as numbered at bottom) to visualise the impact of this massive development proposal on Round Hill.

Focus on how the 5-storey building will be serviced (refuse & recycling collections, parents helping students to move in or evacuate their possessions, any kind of delivery).

No waiting or parking would be permitted in Hughes Rd since only vehicles connected with the operation of the industrial estate or trucks & vans accessing Sainsbury's delivery yard can circulate on the lower level. The Hughes Road access would neither be safe for a lot of bicycles or a large number of pedestrians. The junction of the truck/van service road at the mouth of the industrial estate is not a place where I would advise even one cyclist to mount or dismount. I doubt that there would be any greater safety in numbers unless the obstruction brought Sainsbury's deliveries to a halt.

The full burden will fall on Round Hill

A car-free development still need services and will still draw visitors coming and going in motor vehicles. Round Hill does not have sufficient onstreet parking space to carry the burden of a 144-room development.

Sketch - Proposed elevations

Click here for the developer's sketches of the Hughes Road (top = NE) and Round Hill (bottom = SE) elevations. These show just how massive the development is in relation to the 2-storey building they want to demolish.

Count how many windows would belong to the 5-storey building and compare this with the existing number of windows on the east side of D'Aubigny Road.

Could a building of this bulk set into our hillside possibly preserve the character & appearance of The Round Hill conservation area?

Already, with circa 2,300 residents living within an area of half a square kilometre, tightly knit Round Hill has twice the population density of the average UK (medium-sized) city. Is this not enough?

In addition to the proposed 5-storey building, they also want to erect a 3-storey building in front (in line with the existing terrace on the east side of D'Aubigny Road).
This page was last updated by Ted on 13-Feb-2019
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