This week saw a terrible blow for Rottingdean’s heritage. Following strenuous efforts from SAFE (St Albyn’s Fields Evergreen) in particular, the battle has been lost to save the stunning Grade II listed former St Aubyn’s School in the centre of the village (in itself a Conservation Area) from demolition and redevelopment. The case went to judicial review.
It is now intended that this landmark building be replaced with 93 modern housing units.
To quote the Brighton Argus article:
‘The matter was brought before High Court Judge Sir Duncan Ouseley earlier this month, but all three claims were dismissed on October 8.
The judge recognised that the development “would cause clear harm to the setting of the Conservation Area” as it would reduce Rottingdean’s “green lung” – the area between the Conservation Area and the town itself.But he said the closure of the school in 2013 had left “substantial listed buildings, adjoining the High Street, in the Rottingdean Conservation Area, unused and unmaintained”.
This was part of his reason for approving the plans.
He also said the new development “would provide a very clear enhancement to the appearance and character of the conservation area over the existing ad-hoc collection of poor quality late 20th century buildings” and was “entirely sympathetic to the Conservation Area”.
A truly unbelievable conclusion. How on earth can these 93 boxes of ticky tacky in the middle of a historic village and former home of Kipling and Burne-Jones possibly be an ENHANCEMENT to the appearance and character of Rottingdean?
It is a substantial devaluing of this Conservation Area when a sympathetic flat conversion scheme (including retro-greening) could have easily been achieved. It is also a devaluing of the listings registry and Conservation Area scheme and could easily be used to set a dangerous precedent in the city.
Such a questionable verdict is certainly worthy of a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office