Regency Society disappointed at dismissal of ‘crackpot’ Hove Museum ideas

Posted On 25 Apr 2016 at 3:50 pm

The Regency Society says it is disappointed its proposals to knock down Hove Museum and build a new cultural centre and housing have been rejected out of hand as “crackpot”.

Hove Museum from Wikimedia Commons

Hove Museum from Wikimedia Commons

The society’s chair Roger Hinton earlier this month called for the demolition Edwardian Brooker Hall, in which the museum is housed, to make way for a state of the art new museum and library, built by a private developer and funded by housing on the same site.

But the proposal, put forward as an alternative to building an extension on the museum to house the library if plans to sell the Carnegie building go ahead, has already been dismissed as unworkable, which the society says is unfair.

Mr Hinton said: “The Regency Society of Brighton and Hove remains concerned that the council is about to rush into a very poor decision.

“We are disappointed that it does not seem willing to consider our alternative suggestions, which aim to improve the service to the people of Hove by creating a new, 21st century high quality library and museum to be funded by including housing in the site.

“The council has dismissed our proposal in a few words as ‘unworkable’, with no real explanation. According to the Council’s current plans, moving the library into the Museum building will mean it will have much less space compared to the current building (not much more than half).

“The museum building is unsuitable for a library as it is composed of a number of small rooms, which makes the space inflexible and cramped. Museums and libraries are a vital part of our heritage and we believe Hove residents deserve better. We believe that this impractical arrangement will not last long and a rethink (and yet more cost) will be needed in the near future if this goes ahead.

“This proposal is in stark contrast with the Jubilee Library and historic Brighton Museum which both offer bright, welcoming and spacious facilities.

“We believe it is vital that time is spent now getting this right, so we are urging the Council to think about the Hove Museum site again with a view to offering a more attractive, higher quality and community friendly solution which could cost less than a rushed conversion of the current museum.”

However, Tom Bewick, the city council’s education spokesman and ward councillor, stood by his view that the society’s plans are a “crackpot scheme”.

He said: “I have been out delivering 200 personal letters on the doorstep over the last two weekends, and I haven’t come across a single resident who lives anywhere within a square mile who thinks the Regency Society proposal is a serious idea.

“I have called it a crackpot scheme on Twitter and I stand by that. People are a bit bemused that the Regency Society should be devoting so much time on something which seems antithetic to what they’re thought to be about.

“Hove Museum has a very rich history and deserves protection. I find their whole position very odd.

“Look at what happened with the Sackville Tower – developers were sent away with a flea in their ear. This scheme has got another Sackville tower written all over it.

“If the relocation goes ahead, we want the Regency Society to work with us to ensure that what we get is the best of both old and new.”

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.

He said: “

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    If anything should be termed “crackpot”, it is the Council’s much-awaited “business plan” for flogging off the Carnegie Library. There are so many holes in it that it makes the back of envelope look like Proust or Musil.

    The Council meeting to debate the Carnegie is being held at four o’clock on Thursday (28th) at the Friends’ Meeting House near Ship Street – in Brighton!. This is of course open to the public, and it is the first item on the agenda. Although being held in a “pop-up” location (Hove Town Hall being made over), it will be streamed on the web.

    These are anxious days as Hove awaits news of its fate.

  2. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Great news that the council have rejected this lunatic plan from the Regency Society of Brighton and Hove. It is strange that they supported such a plan considering most of their activities seem to be involved protecting historic buildings.

    Perhaps they view that the outdated and under-sized Carnegie building is not suitable as a library and the facilities should indeed be moved. Or perhaps this was just a futile rear-guard action by the ‘Save Hove Library’ action to defer decisions after providing blatant misinformation about the library closing.

    It is good to see ex-Green Party councillor, writer, and library supporting activist, and self-appointed instigator of ‘Save Hove LIbrary’ Christopher Hawtree calling the council’s plan as also being ‘crackpot’ – so it seems if you put 2 ‘crackpot’ plans together then you somehow get a ‘sane’ plan?

    I’d also be intrigued to understand what this has got to do with ‘Proust’ or ‘Musil’ – perhaps Christopher would care to elucidate?

    At least the council is a group of democratically elected people who have a responsibility to the residents rather than a group of self-appointed activists who seem to have no ideas of concepts such as reality and economics. Did you see Phelim McCafferty’s suggestion (he’s also supporting Christopher) to use all the money from the sale of King’s House to prop up the Carnegie?

    • Valerie Paynter Reply

      Mr. Wiley you seem unaware that the proposed removal of the Hove Library function to a combined Museum/Library with an extension at Brooker Hall involves REDUCING the library by 59%. You think the Carnegie is undersized? Compared to that? Get a grip.

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        Ms. Paynter – but as I understand it, some of the space that is not currently used for true library functions will be shared with the museum and community areas. After all you don’t need 3 sets of 3 toilets in the combined facility.

        As you have pointed out previously, some of the space currently used for students supposedly studying but they apparently spend most of their time chatting on their iPhones.

        Similarly, on several occasions I had to climb over buggies, to get to some books whilst listening to youngsters having a musical event on the children’s library.

        As to the actual amount of space needed for library facilities vs. museum vs. community (including possibly getting buggies left outside) I’d leave such decisions to our accountable democratically elected representatives rather than self-appointed non-elected activist groups who seem to represent no one other than themselves but seem to demand special treatment.

        I do get confused – when do you post as Valerie and when do you post as SaveHOVE, and what is the difference?

        As to the Carnegie building itself, it seems strangge that all the various groups seem more interested in retaining the actual building, rather than considering the needs residents and library facilities in the 21st century.

        BTW – do you have any idea what this has got to do with ‘Proust’ or ‘Musil’?

  3. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Tom Bewick lives in Pembroke Avenue directly opposite the Brooker Hall premises. He no doubt blenches at the thought of a development on his doorstep which makes his view of the Regency Society scheme pretty suspect and 100% NIMBY in my books.

    Eight storeys is too much for that site which is not a tall building node. But 4-5 storeys could go on that site and a newbuild would be of better long-term value for the city than the amateurish plans proposed by Sally McMahon to fill the green area at the back with an extension and the green area at the front with a playground for children.

    Sadly, the lazy councillors will no doubt just rubber stamp this messy nonsense on Thursday and look to sell the Carnegie to Wetherspoons or some interest group close to the Lsbour Party’s heart (!). Rather than sell it, if they go for the extension nonsense at Brooker Hall, they should offer it to one of the two universities who OWE this city bigtime for hoovering up all the housing they do so they can expand and with impunity. They MUST need offhousing of library collections or somewhere to expand library capacity to by now.

    A newbuild would take a couple of years on the Museum site by which time a handover of the Carnegie to university use could be easily organised.

    Within 5 years of putting an extension on Brooker Hall that site will be up for sale, you mark my words.

  4. saveHOVE Reply

    The Brooker Hall building is 1877 – Victorian. Not Edwardian.

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