Plans to ban bright house colours leave residents feeling blue

Park Street, which falls within the conservation area

Plans to stop people in a Brighton neighbourhood painting their houses in bright colours have not gone down well with residents. 

The new restrictions, known as article four directions, are proposed for the Queen’s Park Conservation Area, which is included in Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.

Nine people responded to a consultation carried out in June and July and shared concerns about needing planning permission to paint their homes, changing sash windows, and installing bike sheds.

Papers going before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture (TECC) Committee on Thursday 16 September said notices went up around the area, legal notices published and community groups alerted to ensure people knew about the consultation.

The report said the nine responders were not among the 75 who responded to an informal consultation carried out in 2020, where more than two-thirds of those who took part were positive about the proposed changes.

Restricting house colours to eight approved shades of white, cream and grey came up repeatedly in consultees’ comments.

People described the proposed colour-scheme as “unnecessarily restrictive”, “incredibly narrow”, and “dull dull dull”.

One responder feared brightly-coloured houses would become tatty if owners were forced to comply with the limited colour scheme.

They said: “On Park Street, the coloured houses are beautiful and echo the nearby Hanover area as well as the Brighton Beach huts.

“They should be allowed to remain and develop further.

“A majority are already painted bright colours, and these rules will only discourage people from repainting and hence allow the existing facades to become tatty.”

The conservation area does not include Hanover or Queen’s Park Road.

The council said: “The intention is to avoid the use of unduly dark or garish colours, or the painting of murals without permission.

“Minor variations to the approved colours would not result in enforcement action being taken.”

Planning permission is not required to paint a house in one of the approved colours or repeating the existing shade.

Front doors can be any colour.

Another responder raised concerns about changing sash windows as modern metal-framed double-glazing would not be permitted.

They described single glazed wooden sash windows as “not environmentally sound”.

Timber double-glazed windows or fitting double glazing into existing sashes is permitted.

Householders can use modern double glazing at the sides and back of their homes.

Less controversial restrictions included changing the roof, extensions, building new porches, building or demolition of new gates, fences or walls.

The TECC Committee meets at Hove Town Hall from 4pm on Thursday 16 September.

It is scheduled as a live webcast on the council website.

  1. Billy Short Reply

    This is another strange story. The idea that only 9 people responded seems odd.

    And surely our views of how an area should look change over time? I would have thought many current owners like these rows of terraced houses all painted bright colours. They get photographed often enough.

    Does the Queens Park conservation area include Hanover? Or is that a separate conservation area?

    These are the same terraces that would have been scheduled for demolition just a few decades ago.
    It’s understandable we want to keep the Victorian sash window look, but it’s also understandable that these damp houses, often built from bungaroosh, need better insulation – and that would include modern windows.

    • Valerie Reply

      Modern? Or just plastic?

      Double glazing is available in wood surround

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Isn’t that the area with Homer Simpson upon the whole of a front?

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      No, that’s off Elm Grove. This is just the roads around Queens Park

  3. Nigel Jones Reply

    Absolutely crazy. the bright colours look great, and they ARE the character of the area.
    More not less please.

  4. Julie C Reply

    The council need to get their priorities right when it comes to tourism. They should focus on the vast numbers of drunks and junkies, aggressive begging, dumped rubbish, unswept streets, graffiti, and antisocial behaviour which all have a negative impact, rather than people painting houses in bright colours which get a positive reaction.
    Looks to me like a distraction as they have lost control of everything else.
    If they are really worried about house appearances, why don’t they force the owners of neglected properties to carry out repairs?

  5. Bear Road resident Reply

    One has only to look at the line of brightly coloured houses that span the harbour at Tobermory on the Isle of Mull to see the inappropriateness of Brighton Council’s decision. This is an area far more steeped in history than Queens Park (no offence to the residents) and the good burghers of the island don’t find a problem with it, in fact they make a point of it as a tourist attraction…
    I have to agree with Julie C – the council should concentrate on sorting out the sorry mess they’ve made of this once fine town inside of becoming focussed on inconsequentials like the colour of people’s houses.

  6. Hanover Resident Reply

    Is the Council now the arbiter of good taste? Why was this initiated in the first place especially when only 9 people responded. Part of the problem with this council is only a small number of residents are needed to request an “approved” project. For example “Local community groups can request the council considers a Low Traffic Neighbourhood for their area by taking a deputation – signed by (only) six people – to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.” With managed consultation/engagement – the Council can get the response they want. Similar things have happened with consultations on parking zones in Hanover – the Council organise a referendums until they get the answer they want or they allow individual streets to opt out when they want a different outcome. Democracy in action Brighton style!

  7. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Or Tenby in Wales – people visit the town to see the harbour and the coloured houses. When I first came to live in Brighton a very long time ago, Park Street was one of the first things I photographed and it had already been recommended to me as something to see. I agree about eyesore murals but they should leave the house colours well alone. Was this another ‘consultation’ that was snuck under the radar like so many others?

    I agree with the comments above – the council should sort out all the big issues that make the place so unattractive to both tourists and locals alike – and leave Park Street alone.

  8. mockduck Reply

    I walked along West Drive at lunch time and it struck me how entirely unnecessary this ruling is.

    The houses that line Queens Park are not currently under any such stricture, yet they are all, without exception, either brickwork or white render. It seems unlikely that anyone would take the initiative and paint those houses orange or purple.

    Meanwhile, less grand terraces such as Park Road are an absolute delight of different colours. It is purely a subjective opinion whether bright colours are undesirable, and especially the word ‘garish’ which is just another, more negative way of saying ‘vibrant’.

    Fine to use restrictions to guide homeowners into the most ecologically-friendly practices, but this is just imposing an aesthetic preference that not everyone shares.

  9. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    As is usual with this council, and a few of the ones before it, this is all about flexing flabby political/ideological muscles and fiddling at absolutely no cost to the council whilst Brighton metaphorically burns for lack of action on anything actually important.

    Might we be informed who exactly initiated this idea and the very dubious consultation with only 9 replies? Was it officers or councillors??? As with everything else, we will never get an answer. Total idiots never want to own their folly.

  10. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Had this story appeared in the April 1st edition of B&H News, we all would have spotted it immediately as a joke. That tells you just how stupid this ‘initiative’ is.

    A ‘leave Park Street alone’ petition to the council is obviously required and it will certainly get more than 9 signatories!

  11. Talled Reply

    You couldn’t make it up. Council who promote diversity and cycling, stop houses being painted bright colours and having bike sheds built.

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