Row over replacement windows in historic Brighton building

New windows in a historic city centre building may be removed as they do not follow a traditional pattern, despite widespread support.

The Lace House with replacement windows

Changes to windows at the Lace House, in Old Steine, Brighton, mean that the owners of the grade II* listed building, known for the small cat sculpture on the side, have had to apply for retrospective planning permission.

It was derelict and converted from offices into flats in 2017. Between the 1930s and 1970s it was used as a car showroom.

However, in a report going before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee next week, the new windows are described as “at odds with the formality and symmetry of the building” by the council’s heritage department.

Supporters have sent the council 13 letters praising the new windows. Owners Lace Wilson Properties also has the backing of Regency ward councillor Tom Druitt.

The Green councillor asked the Planning Committee to review the application and said: “I understand that the managing agent is being asked to remove the new, safer, windows in favour of less safe windows and if this is true have to question the logic of this.”

Letters of support from the public describe the award-winning building as transforming the area.

A supporting comment, with details redacted on the council’s website, said: “Lace House has been transformed from a rundown eyesore to a stylish development – entirely in keeping with its prominent position – and the feel of modern, stylish Brighton – building on its architectural heritage.

“The overall look of the building is a fresh, modern take on a classic design and the windows are a large part of that contemporary classic feel.

“The redevelopment of the building has really enhanced and helped transform this very central location – and the windows play a big part of that.”

Another supporting commenter, whose details were redacted on the council’s website, said that the building had been an eyesore.

The commenter said: “I used to work in Lace House before the development and it was rundown, dark and quite an eyesore.

“The renovations and level of detail that the development has undertaken is fantastic. The windows look great and have given the building a new lease of life. What used to be a rundown office block is now a stylish and beautiful building.”

The Lace House in June 2016

Planning consultants Lewis and Co said that the redevelopment won a highly commended award in the House Builder Awards 2018.

The firm said that the new windows complied with the acoustic requirements for building regulations while sash style windows would not.

The firm said: “The pre-existing windows were not original. The property was used as a car showroom from 1939 until the 1970s with a large glazed shop front across the first and second floors.

“The pre-existing windows were installed after this to facilitate the office use, prior to the building becoming vacant.

“The original openings and windows of Lace House have therefore not been a feature of the conservation area since before 1939.”

The council’s Planning Committee is due to decide the application at Hove Town Hall next Wednesday (8 January).

The meeting is scheduled to start at 2pm and should be open to the public.

  1. Tony Ward Reply

    Absolutely infuriating to see the council wasting time, effort and money on something like this. The new windows are fit for purpose and unless you had a before and after picture, you wouldn’t notice the difference. The “original” windows were certainly not original in the true sense of the word. Perhaps the planners would have preferred the building to be left essentially derelict……

  2. SamC Reply

    Council’s heritage department stand in the way of eco-friendly double-glazing in conservaton areas all the time, so this is no suprise. They have never heard of carbon footprintor global warming…

  3. Becky Reply

    So agree with the above, there’s no logic or common sense in Brighton planning dept, and their idea of what is permitted far outweighs anything environmental. The environment is very low on their priorities sadly.

  4. Mr S J W Reply

    Agree with all the above . Cant believe the council would waste money like this . Before the development it was a well known drug den and full of anti socila behavior its now enhanced the area and the developers should be given an award for doing what they have done.

  5. Mike Bygrave Reply

    As a sash window manufacturer, I’d just like to point out that modern sash windows with acoustic glazing probably would have met the building regs acoustic requirement.

  6. Chris Reply

    This is ridiculous, the building renovation is a vast improvement and has turned a derelict office into a beautiful building. The renovation of the building really improves the local area and I think the developers have done an amazing job. You cannot notice the difference with the windows and they look totally in keeping. What a waste of council time to tax payers money!

  7. Mark Reply

    Having checked, the building is not Grade II* listed

    • benji Reply

      Yep, I checked “Historic England” and there is NO listing of this building, the others surrounding it are listed, but Lace House is not.

  8. Andy Hutchings Reply

    Be nice if they bothered cleaning the streets and getting rid of the disgusting graffiti all over the city

  9. GC Reply

    if the planning or other department want a change then they then qualify as a designer under the cdm 2015 regulations, a legal duty. if thy fail to comply with all the designer duties its a criminal offence and prosecution by HSE must be undertaken.

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