Hove artists facing eviction say gentrification is driving them from the city

Posted On 07 Mar 2017 at 4:41 pm

A group of Hove artists who are facing the prospect of being turfed out of the studio they’ve used for 32 years say their predicament is part of the gentrification which is pushing creative people out of Brighton and Hove.
Anna Chapman, Red Herring artist
Red Herring Studios, which is home to 23 artists at the Westerman Complex in School Road, which developers want to knock down to make way for a new complex of 100 homes and a handful of offices.

Also based at the complex is the Westows soft play and the Written Word church, both of which will also be made homeless if the new scheme goes ahead.

Chris McHugh, co-founder of Red Herring, said: “With property prices rising, and suitable industrial sites getting scarcer, it will be a challenge to find an affordable new home for this well-established and vital artistic community.

“With property prices rising, and suitable industrial sites getting scarcer, it will be a challenge to find an affordable new home for this well-established and vital artistic community.

“How do we value art and creativity in our community? How can we expect artists to produce the work that is enjoyed in galleries, private homes, schools and public spaces without affordable studios in which to make it?”

In the application, the developer’s planning consultant says that the current units are outdated, and therefore only yield modest rents.

The owners of the site have been in discussion with the council about the best use of the site since 2011. The final plans reflect the council’s wish to have 40% affordable housing, and this has been achieved by reducing the employment space slightly. However, the developer says that there will still be a net increase in employment levels, if not space, on the site.

It proposes paying the council £288,990 towards open space and indoor sports to make up for the loss of community facilities, specifically the children’s play area and place of worship. Of the other unit uses, it says: “There are numerous vacant industrial sites within Brighton and Hove that could accommodate the uses that are to vacate the School Road site.”

Red Herring is now looking for another large space within commuting distance of Brighton and Hove. Its current premises, for which the lease runs out in June this year, stand at nearly 8,000 square feet (740 square metres), but it says any suitable buildings – larger or smaller – will be considered. To recommend a new venue, visit http://www.redherringstudios.org.

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