A revamped building in central Brighton can keep its new windows even though they are out of keeping with the conservation area.
Councillors were advised to refuse planning permission as the The Lace House in Old Steine is within the Valley Gardens Conservation Area.
Sash windows were described as a “unifying feature of the area”, with both the neighbouring Grade II* listed Royal Albion Hotel and Grade II listed Royal York Buildings having that traditional style of window.
But new windows in the The Lace House installed as part of the conversion from offices to flats have a different design which opens outwards.
Regency ward councillor Tom Druitt spoke in support of the new windows after receiving comments from residents of Lace House.
He said they thought the windows were a “huge asset to the building” due to the views of the gardens and seafront without a horizontal bar blocking them.
Councillor Druitt said: “The previous windows were traditional sash windows that you or a child could easily fall out of, or you could lose things out of.
“The current ones doesn’t allow that, they open from the top and push out. You can’t fall out of them because of the design.
“I would like to support this as it improves an area of the city centre. It has reduced graffiti and unsightliness in an area where I think the design of the windows enhances the building.”
Councillor Druitt was substituting for fellow Green Phélim Mac Cafferty on the Planning Committee, and left the council chamber for the debate.
Labour councillor Daniel Yates supported officers recommendations to refuse. He said it was difficult to support non-sash windows next to sash windows and expect them to work together.
Councillor Yates said: “We have to consider the visual impact on the scene and the area as well as on the building.
“As far as I can see they have a fairly debilitating effect on the Royal Albion Hotel when one building is viewed in front of the other.”
Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh also supported the application pointing out nearby Grade II listed Madeira Terraces are in urgent need of restoration.
She said: “This property is only 50 metres from Madeira Terraces.
“I suggest we need to get our own house in order before we start lecturing other people.”
Councillor Fishleigh also said it was hypocritical of the council to roll out new LED street lighting in the area and criticise a different development.
Conservative councillor Sameer Bagaeen said the council had “bigger fish to fry” and praised the geometry of the building.
He said: “It is taller than it is wide, we have this in the geometry of the window casings. It gives it a beautiful geometry.
“I would be happy to leave things as they are. One of the better buildings going through permitted development and come out looking pretty decent.”
Green councillor Leo Littman described the area as having a “mish mash” of different style windows.
He said: “I’ve been going back on Google and looking at this building’s history.
“Personally I think the current windows look better than the sash before.”
He seconded Conservative councillor Joe Miller’s recommendation to approve permission.
Councillor Miller said: “Sash windows are more in keeping but they were only put in in the 70s after it was a car show rooms so how historic is it?
“Are we going to suggest they rip all these windows out and put in windows that are very similar with a bar that’s higher.”
Members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee voted six to two to keep the new design windows with committee chair councillor Tracey Hill joining Councillor Yates in supporting officers recommendation to refuse.
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