Local History

Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs

A: Do you think that conservation areas are a good idea or do they place too many restrictions on residents?


B: Well, as you know, Brighton and Hove has some lovely squares, especially those near the Sea Front. A good example is Brunswick Square. Under the Hove Borough Council Act 1976, if you live there you are required to paint your property every five years. The paint to be used on previously painted masonry is Sandtex Classic Stone Gloss – Hove Cream. You can't paint your own home any colour you like.


A: In my view, that is sensible with your city's historic squares. It would look ridiculous if different flats were painted all different colours. But Brighton and Hove has 34 conservation areas and most of these are not in parts of the city where all the tourists go. Surely, there is a bit more freedom away from the Sea Front.


B: There is indeed, though white is still the predominate colour in many of these areas. Residents tend to use their discretion in varying paint colours. Black would stand out as unusual, though in most conservation areas, white paint wouldn't be enforced.


A: I believe that many of the houses in your conservation areas are from the Victorian era and your Council is quite strict about alterations to doors and windows.


B: That is true, especially at the front of the houses. The preference is for wooden sash windows which reflect the Victorian era, though you will see many examples of aluminium and plastic windows. It is also difficult to get planning permission for dormer windows at the front of homes in conservation areas.


A: In my opinion, it is too restrictive to prevent residents from making the most of their attic space. Prominent windows in the roof may not look elegant, but the amenity of having an extra bedroom which could accommodate one more person is more important than appearance now that housing is in such demand.


B: Another area of debate is whether to allow solar panels, especially when the front of your house is south facing? Climate change is set to cause devastation and the UK is meant to be working towards carbon neutrality.


A: Although many of these panels would look out of place in historic squares, I strongly believe that they should be permitted in most conservation areas. If we want to save the planet, we cannot resist all change.


B: I would not like to see all reminders of the past eradicated from view. A case in point is the street lights where I live. The cast iron columns originally used for gas lighting are very decorative. But a while ago, the Council's contractor started replacing these columns with ugly steel poles.


A: I agree with you about keeping the columns, but I think it is worth replacing orange electric lighting with white light. LEDs (light emitting diodes) give far more control as to where the light falls and use far less energy. Tackling global warming has to be more important than standing in the way of change.

-----© Ted Power