Friday, 11 October 2013

Back to the drawing board: BHASVIC's controversial building plans rejected by B&H council



by Jian Farhoumand.



Controversial plans for a new teaching block at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) on Dyke Road, Hove, have been rejected.

Brighton and Hove City Council met in the Council Chamber at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday 9th October and – after vociferous debate – rejected the college’s proposed design for being "out of character" with local amenity.

BHASVIC had applied to construct a stand-alone, three-storey building on the site of its current car park between the Main Building and College House. Both of the latter buildings are listed.

The proposed new building, which would have appeared from Dyke Road to be composed mainly of steel, glass and cladding – in direct contrast to its listed red-brick neighbours – would have taken the place of 29 parking spaces.

Seven new parking spaces were proposed to be created elsewhere on the site, resulting in a total loss of 22.


BHASVIC is a popular college and the first in the country to be awarded Grade 1 Outstanding status by OFSTED.

The college has over 2,200 students, and the new building would have created 12 new classrooms whilst seating 288 students.

However, as the proposed building was deemed “out of character” with its neighbours and surroundings, councillors voted seven to four against it.

Councillors explicitly cited opposition to the plan’s colour scheme – including garish green and blue cladding – and obtrusive exterior design for being too over-bearing.

Furthermore, several councillors cited objections made by neighbours, local residents, the Brighton Society and even the council’s own Heritage team.

Councillor Lynda Hyde reiterated: “It is totally and utterly obtrusive in terms of design, material and palette. Neighbours, the Brighton Society and the Heritage team object. And I object.”





Neighbours on Dyke Road feared the proposed building’s “negative impact” would also include impending “loss of light”.


The Heritage team had reported that the building would be set too far forward and would be more prominent than its listed neighbours.

Councillor Hyde reminded those present that any new development in Brighton and Hove must enhance the character of the local amenity.

She added that, as plans for a bungalow extension had recently been rejected for similar reasons, this new proposal should also be rejected.

Councillor Carol Theobald concurred: “I think the design is terrible, too high and too visible and would break the sense of the street scene.”


Councillor Mike Jones added: “I’m really disappointed by the choice of colours. I do not understand why this palette of colours has been deemed acceptable.”

One councillor suggested that if the cladding was instead composed of red brick, then at least it would be in character with the listed buildings either side as well as the neighbours opposite.

Another agreed, saying of the current proposal: “This does not respect the neighbourhood character and design. The whole community are against it. It is not popular.” She asked why BHASVIC couldn’t create a structure similar in spirit to the new construction at Brighton College which has successfully stayed in character with surrounding buildings.

Councillor Alan Robins said: “I see no beneficial reason for the coloured cladding." He added: "I agree with what most have said. To me this design of cladding looks like it’s permanently covered in scaffolding.”


Councillors voiced their regret and emphasized that, although rejecting the proposal, they were not opposed to the idea of a new construction at BHASVIC, but simply wanted a more fitting design.

BHASVIC’s principal, Chris Thomson, said after the vote: "Obviously I'm very disappointed.” He added: “But I’m very much hoping we can find a way of meeting the planners' requirements so that we can meet the demand for the outstanding provision we make for young people."

When asked if BHASVIC and its architects could design an exterior that would be more in keeping with its listed neighbours, whilst still maintaining the same interior provision for classrooms and students, Principal Thomson said: "I'm sure our architects will be very responsive."

                                Brighton College's more sympathetic new build design, Kemp Town

Councillor Leo Littman called the current proposal, “an opportunity missed for a terrific addition to the BHASVIC site”.

Councillor Jones said: “I hope that the design team can come back with a design for a good, modern building that reflects the colour palette of the buildings around it.”

BHASVIC has been awarded the maximum allowable government funding for the new building.

When asked if this funding was tied specifically to the current, proposed design, Principal Thomson said: "There’s no direct connection between the government funding and the design. The government do believe in the project because they gave us the maximum £1.5 million available. We approach them with a general plan, they give us the approval, then we go ahead and procure the building, including its design."

Principal Thomson concluded: "We - that is the college along with the architects - have another meeting with the planners today and hope to make progress from there."

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