Brighton’s Regency Society has taken the unusual step of advocating the demolition of a civic building, saying the Hove Museum site should instead be used to build a state of the art library, museum and housing.
Councillors are expected to approve hugely controversial plans to move Hove Library from its current home in the Carnegie building in Church Road a few hundred metres west to the museum site in New Church Road.
Brighton and Hove City Council said it needs to do this because the cost of making repairs to the existing building would lead to the closure of branch libraries in the city’s suburbs.
It is currently proposing to build an extension to the Edwardian museum to house the library across the ground floor, with the museum moved to the first floor.
But the Regency Society, which usually fights for the preservation of historical buildings, has called for the council to go one step further and give the site to a developer in return for building much-needed homes, as well as a new library and museum.
Chair of the society Roger Hinton said: “It may seem strange to hear the Regency Society say it want to demolish a building, but it’s not listed by Historic England and although it’s a nice enough building, it’s been messed about quite a bit. It was divided into two separate houses, it’s been chopped about.
“If it’s possible to get 100 homes on the site a developer would snap it up and part of the deal could be that they would finance the building of a library and a museum. It would cost the council nothing.
“They would be left with the Carnegie building and that would be a capital receipt for them, and the city gets extra housing which it desperately needs.”
The society has written to the council’s policy and resources committee, which is due to make the final decision later this month.
The letter in full:
The Regency Society of Brighton and Hove is disappointed at the lack of vision shown by Brighton and Hove Council in its plans for Hove Library and Museum.
In this time of budget cuts and housing shortage, we believe that consideration should be given to a more ambitious re-development of the Hove museum site. The existing building is not considered worthy of listing by Historic England.
If it were to be demolished there is the chance of a far greater prize for the city: a new, state of the art library & museum, plus much needed new homes, at no cost to the City Council.
The benefits of this scheme could far outweigh the loss of the existing museum building. The society’s feasibility study suggests that a new building on the site could contain library and museum spaces of 540 sqm each, plus offices, a cafeteria and a function room. A basement car park would accommodate about 50 cars.
The upper floors could provide 100 homes of one to three-bedrooms. This would involve the loss of some, but by no means all of the public open space on the site. The council could then benefit from the sale proceeds or rental income from the existing Carnegie library building.
Given the extent of its listing, including internal features, our preference would be for the Council to retain the freehold and lease the building for an educational type use.
Roger Hinton, Chair of the society said: “We feel the Library Plan has not considered the wider strategic opportunities offered by changes to Hove Library and Museum. These should be investigated before a final decision is made” The Council has already approved the library plan, but without having seen the business case, which is to be reviewed by the Policy & Resources Committee before the decision is finalised. We hope that the option described here can be consideredwhen that happens.The society has written to the Council Chief Executive setting out our views. A copy of the letter is attached.
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