Fresh hope for Madeira Terraces as conservation expert says repair bill has been vastly overestimated
A specialist surveyor believes fixing the Madeira Terraces would be “comparatively simple” after visiting the site last week.
The Morton Partnership was commissioned by the Victorian Society to look again at the terraces after the society discovered Brighton and Hove City Council’s survey had been carried out by transport specialists with no experience of conservation work.
Last week, Brian Morton and Cedric Profitt, who worked on the Albert Memorial, came down to Brighton and both now agree that if the cast iron work can be repaired satisfactorily, the cost of repairs will be a fraction of the figure originally estimated.
Mr Morton wrote to the Victorian Society to say: “We formed the opinion that the whole proposal is comparatively simple and certainly the question of recasting elements of the iron work.
“We have existing elements to recast, which is simple to manufacture once a new moulding is made.
“The structure overall is also quite simple and fairly easy to cost, but in order to get an accurate figure for grant aid etc, a detailed survey will be required indicating the number of elements that need replacing.
“There is nothing we see it difficult about the process.
“Myself and my colleague formed the opinion that the engineer who we met from the road section of the council simply did not believe that the cast iron structure could be repaired at all because, as he said, ‘you can’t repair cast iron’.”
He added that the initial council survey had made the job more complicated than necessary, and therefore the estimated cost of repairs was “very much higher” than a “realistic report will suggest”.
The Victorian Society’s conservation officer Alex Bowring said: “The Victorian Society is reassured that the Morton Partnership believes that the restoration of Madeira Terrace is likely to be simpler than the Council had initially feared.
“We urge the Council to commission a new full structural survey from a firm with proven historic buildings experience.
“Madeira Terrace is too an important Brighton landmark to rush into decisions about its future.”
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said it had no new response, and repeated the statement it made earlier this month when the new site visit was first arranged.
It then said: “The council has carried out a full structural investigation and the findings, plus the council’s further monitoring of the structure, have been shared with the Victorian Society.
“We have given the Victorian Society permission to obtain its own analysis of the structure to assess its future viability and another view would be interesting in helping us work with heritage partners to find a sustainable solution for the Madeira Terraces.
“We are currently exploring how to fund a project that would also need to pay for maintaining the Madeira Terraces in good condition into the next century. As a listed structure any changes would need the consent of English Heritage.
“We are planning to report back in the summer on what funding opportunities may be available for Madeira Terraces and how the council is supporting the wider regeneration of the seafront.”