The oldest building in North Street is to be demolished as part of a scheme to crate a new entrance to The Lanes.
Some members of the Brighton and Hove City Council said that it was surprising to learn that the shoe repair shop, which dates from the 1770s, was a grade II listed building.
But the owners say that the new entrance will open up access and views of another grade II listed building, Puget’s Cottage, which is even older and has been hidden for generations.
The application, creating Puget’s Lane, is part of a bigger scheme to create another new lane – Hanningtons Lane – and to revamp Brighton Square.
Neighbour Julian Komosa objected to the proposal. He said: “The Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission’s successful application for grade II listing in 2013 of not only Puget’s Cottage and number 15 North Street but also the yard between them and the side passageway I understand make this nationally a very rare listed ‘micro site’.
“The reason is because this site represents a part of old Brighton which has been untouched for at least 160 years.
“My case for rejecting the demolition of Timpsons is it is undoubtedly now the oldest building in North Street, marking the north side of the town in the late 18th century.
“Its timber-framed mathematical-tiled upper floors front façade make it a rare survivor of pre-resort times.
“”Nationally it is important because it is has been in continuous commercial use as a shop since the 1780s which is rare.
“The street scene is mainly of late 19th century and 20th century buildings, all at this point dominated by the Chapel Royal tower.
“The proposed out-of-place and ugly black glazed entrance tower to the new Puget’s Lane would compromise this pleasing street scene as it would not be visually subservient to the listed Chapel Royal.
“The reason for the listing process is to protect heritage buildings from this type of destruction.
“I believe most people are agreed that a new entrance to The Lanes is a good idea but not at the expense of a listed rare survivor of the 18th century.”
He suggested creating the entrance using a neighbouring site which was not listed.
John McLean, director of architects Morgan Carn, said: “We’ve been master planning this scheme for nearly 5 years, and were delighted when our first applications for Hanningtons Lane and Brighton Square were unanimously approved by this committee.
John McLean, director of architects Morgan Carn, said: “The North Street improvement works are well under way and the regeneration of Brighton Square should commence this summer.
“But the regeneration of this area will never reach its full potential without the new entrance and Puget’s Lane.
“This application was resubmitted at the request of local traders and residents, who felt strongly that a crucial part of the scheme had been lost when 15 North Street was spot listed and the scheme went ahead without the link lane.
“Our week-long public exhibition was widely advertised and received significant press coverage. We invited local traders to attend and also arranged a site visit for members of (the Conservation Advisory Group).
“The interest from local workers, residents, businesses, visitors and tourists has been absolutely amazing.
“The council has received 330 letters of support yet only five objections.
“That’s a staggering 98.5 per cent support.
“In addition, members should be reassured that key conservation groups, such as the Regency Society, the Hove Civic Society and even the Brighton Society, all support these applications and have acknowledged the substantial public benefits that would result from them.
“Creating the high-quality new entrance that our world-famous Lanes deserve, improving the city’s north-south connections, and revealing and meticulously restoring the real gem that is Puget’s Cottage will enhance the Old Town Conservation Area.
“These are substantial public benefits which do outweigh the harm caused by the demolition of 15 North Street.
“This isn’t just my opinion. We have received overwhelming support from a wide range of reputable groups and the general public.
“There is much more at stake here than 15 North Street. This is an exceptional case and (landowner) RBS have made it clear that they will not appeal. I urge members to be visionary when making their decision.”
Ed Allison-Wright, of property firm Centurion Group, said: “On behalf of Centurion, I have been committed to helping to unlock Puget’s Cottage, forming a new link lane.
“It is crucial in safeguarding and optimising our imminent multimillion-pound investment in the regeneration of Brighton Square.
“This will create new jobs, businesses and socio-economic benefits for our city.
“Sixty-eight local businesses represented by the Lanes Traders Group have written in full support, as have the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce.
The city’s business community is 100 per cent behind this scheme and emphasises a convincing justification for the substantial economic benefits of these proposals.
“This will only go ahead if elected members want it to and, with significant support received, this is an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which mustn’t slip away from our city’s grasp.”
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