NEGLECT of the city’s heritage and architecture has left Brighton and Hove at “crisis point”, the lead councillor for culture has said.
Coun Geoffrey Bowden, pictured inset, told The Argus a lack of investment and “to be frank, wanton neglect” has left many of our heritage sites in a sorry state.
He added that the local authority needed to work closely with city businesses in the future to restore them to their former glory.
On April 17 we launched our Seafront 2020 campaign in a bid to kickstart a debate on the future of our communities. We released a ten point manifesto focusing on different issues affecting our seafront and today we are tackling the fifth point: the protection of iconic landmarks and our heritage.
Responding to the point, coun Bowden, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s economic development and culture committee, said: “The Argus’ campaign is to be applauded. Decades of under investment and, to be frank, wanton neglect by successive administrations have taken us to crisis point.
“The Victorian infrastructure on our seafront is failing and the knock on effects are highly damaging to the life of the city.”
He added: “Our heritage sites are vital for the city. We simply cannot allow them to deteriorate and, in the new economic reality, partnership between the public and private sector remains our best hope to secure their future.”
From the Victorian seafront arches to the Regency splendour of Hove, the city’s heritage, particularly the world famous Royal Pavilion, has long been a huge draw for tourists.
The city council along with Brighton Dome and Festival, were awarded £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Funding last November and £5.8 million from the Arts Council in October to fund their masterplan for the Pavilion estate, which takes in the Pavilion as well as the gardens, Dome, Corn Exchange and other buildings.
It is hoped the plan will ensure the attraction remains one of biggest and best in the region for generations to come.
Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, said: “Heritage has a crucial role to play in the economic, artistic, cultural and social future of the city and all of its communities. Many people’s first experience of Brighton will be via its architecture – in particular the iconic Royal Pavilion Estate which is in many ways the symbol of the city, attracting over 1.2 million people a year and contributing many millions of pounds to the local economy.
“Its magnificence, its boldness of design and daring experimentation with form established Brighton’s reputation two centuries ago yet now that heritage is increasingly in need of preservation and the city’s cultural, creative and economic future depends on a plan that makes it possible for the estate to live up to its potential as a world class heritage and cultural destination.
“Just like those far-sighted aldermen in the 1850s who secured the magnificent Royal Pavilion Estate for Brighton, we need to think carefully about how its maintenance and operation can be sustained over the next 20, 30, 100 years and beyond.”
Coun Bowden added that working with local businesses is key to ensuring the future of our heritage.
He said: “Politicians across the political spectrum need to be working closely with those businesses” adding that only then can we “secure the future of the city’s cultural heartland”.
CITY SHOULD PUSH FOR UNESCO STATUS, SAYS EXPERT
BRIGHTON and Hove should bid for Unesco World Heritage Site status to ensure the future of what makes the city so special, a conservation expert had said.
Roger Amerena, founder of Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission, said he had approached the city council about applying once before and said he would approach them again after the election.
The Unesco World Heritage Site status was set up in the 1970s. The World Heritage Commission considers applications and designate sites, areas, buildings or even cities with the status, which provides added protection and access to funding.
Mr Amerena plans to apply to make the seafront from Sussex Square/Lewes Crescent to Courtenay Gate a World Heritage Site.
He said: “We approached the council a few years ago because they really have to be on board, but the officers were not happy about it. We are going to wait until after May, the elections, and then think about it again with a view to send everything off later in the year.
“It would be beneficial for a number of reasons. First of all it would increase holiday and visitor traffic to Brighton and Hove because people would come because of the status.
“You just have to look at places elsewhere in England like the Eden Project.
“But there is no seaside location at the moment with the status.
“Secondly it would lead to greater protection for our architecture and heritage and it would also enable us to access grants.”
Roger Hinton, chairman of the Regency Society, agreed that the seafront was one of the key heritage site in the city.
He said: “It makes us different and makes our city centre unique in that it isn’t surrounded by suburbs.
“It’s a bit tatty and that gives the characteristic of the seafront but if it just gets more tatty then people won’t come. We must protect it.”