Councillors have refused plans to replace a pub’s distinctive green roof tiles with brown ones.
Pub company Greene King said that it needed to replace the roof at the Spanish Lady, in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, because rain was leaking into the manager’s flat and the pub below.
But the West Saltdean Neighbourhood Forum raised objected to a colour change, saying that others had sourced green tiles which are a feature of many early 20th century buildings in the area.
Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, which includes the western part of Saltdean, urged Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee to reject the plans.
At Hove Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday 2 February), Councillor Fishleigh said that the green roofs were a feature of Saltdean’s 1930s Spanish and Californian style.
A West Saltdean Neighbourhood Plan is being prepared which describes the green roofs as “infrastructure which needs to be protected and preserved”.
Councillor Fishleigh said: “Clay tiles are being proposed. These are a historic roof material made from kiln-baked moulded clay. This material can be glazed, coated or painted with other materials to create a colourful finish.
“The leaseholder needs to try harder to maintain the beauty of this building and should explore the painting or glazing options.”
Greene King’s agent Zoe Horton, design director at GBA Designs, said that the search for like-for-like tiles had been unsuccessful and seeking glazed tiles was not practical or standard build practice.
She said: “We have consulted with a number of manufacturers who all confirm the colours of roofing tiles are determined by their material, in this instance clay, and not by an applied paint or glaze.
“Alongside our contractors and roofing contractors, we have tried to source reclaimed green tiles and there are simply not enough available.
“This is a result of the inherent issue of them cracking along their ridges – the issue we have at the Spanish Lady.”
Labour councillor Daniel Yates said that he found a company online in Southampton that would provide 1930s replica glazed green roof tiles to any customer’s shading requirements.
Councillor Yates said that the committee was deciding a roof covering but the change would affect the character of the area and the view up and down Longridge Avenue.
He said: “The Spanish Lady, apart from its bay windows, is not a particularly attractive building apart from the roof.
“If anything, it’s the roof that makes it of interest. I would hate to see the roof colour change. It’s an intrinsic part of the character of that end of Longridge Avenue and Saltdean as a whole.”
Green councillor Leo Littman, who chairs the Planning Committee, said that when he was growing up in west Hove, he used to go through Saltdean regularly and the green roofs were “the absolute thing” and losing them would be a “loss to the city”.
He wanted to find a way to protect the area’s character because the Spanish Lady was not listed or in a conservation area.
Councillor Littman said: “My concern is if the argument is that we can say we don’t have to replace the green roofs because there are lots of other non-green roofs around, that would apply to every single one of the green roofs in Saltdean.
“That would mean, one by one, the green roofs of Saltdean would all disappear and we could do nothing about it.”
Green councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones was the only member to vote with the official advice to approve the plans.
She said: “The existing tiles have an inherent defect so the problem is, even if they could source enough of the historic tiles, they will keep coming back to this problem and keep having to relook at the roof.
“We are all conscious that pubs have had a pretty tough time over the pandemic and many are trying to recover. That may not be a valid planning reason but I will go with the officer’s recommendation.”
Councillors voted six to one to refuse the application, saying that it would go against council policy because the change would have a negative impact on the wider neighbourhood.