Plans to improve Black Rock ahead of a hoped-for redevelopment are going before city councillors.
The proposals are recommended for approval by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee when it meets on Wednesday, 10 June.
They include extending the road into the Asda car park, restoring the Grade II listed Reading Room and Temple, and replacing the sea wall.
The plans also include new toilets, a play area, and a pump cycle track.
Sussex Wildlife Trust has objected to the new free-standing structure replacing the sea wall, as it cuts off and “destroys” the vegetated shingle on the Black Rock Local Wildlife Site.
The vegetation would instead be relocated behind and to the east of the naturist beach privacy bund.
However, in its objection, the trust said: “The extent of the vegetated shingle in this location does not appear to have changed in many years, ie it has not naturally expanded.
“This makes us question the suitability of the translocation area.
“Sussex Wildlife Trust feels more should be done to try to retain, enhance and expand the existing vegetated shingle as a fundamental part of the city’s ecological network.”
Two comments with details redacted on the council’s website supported the development but raised concern about the shingle. Natural England has not raised any objection.
Green councillor for Queen’s Park ward, Clare Rainey also raised concern about the loss of the rare habitat but generally welcomed the redevelopment.
In her letter Councillor Rainey said she wanted to see an end-use for the site.
She said: “The site would lend itself to a permanent events space, which would allow the city to have purpose-built world-class facilities.
“Transport services could be provided in conjunction with the Bus Company and Volks Railway.
“The current habitat for wintering and migrating birds at Black Rock should not be unnecessarily destroyed.”
The site was earmarked for redevelopment with a conference centre and arena venue as part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Waterfront project, in partnership with Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI).
However, ASI paused the project in November to give it time to look into the feasibility of building it on a site currently occupied by the Brighton Centre, Kingswest and the NCP car park, leaving Black Rock open for other use.
As part of the interim proposals up for consideration next week the historic Reading Room and Temple, dating back to 1835, would be enclosed and weatherproof.
There is concern about enclosing the Temple as it has always been an open structure.
The heritage consultant’s statement said: “The change of use of the structure and its conversion from an open shelter into an enclosed space is a fundamental change to the original use of the Temple.
“Unlike the Old Reading Room, the Temple has always been open to those walking and visiting, and needing shelter, on the Esplanades.
“It should be considered as part of this discussion whether this fundamental change detracts from the significance of the structure and the heritage asset.”
However, the consultant added its current use for parkour, graffiti, and rough sleeping means the building is vulnerable.
The redevelopment plans come more than 40 years after Black Rock Lido closed to the public.
The virtual planning committee meeting is due to start at 2pm on Wednesday 10 June.
It is webcast via the council’s website brighton-hove.gov.uk
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