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Jenkins warns of tower threat to Brighton and Hove's Regency glory
An influential conservationist has called for Brighton and Hove’s planners to look past tall towers.
Broadcaster Sir Simon Jenkins made the comments after he addressed scores of people at an event in the Royal Pavilion organised by the Regency Society.
It comes as high-rise blocks are part of planned developments for Conway Street in Hove, and Preston Barracks sites, all of which could be presented to planners in the next few years.
Sir Simon, who is president of the group, which acts as an umbrella organisation for all the conservation groups in the city, said: “The greatest threat to Brighton today is what it has always been – new buildings that pay no respect to the old ones.
“What is this obsession with towers? I can’t believe some of the things that are proposed.
“You can build low-rise, five to seven storey buildings that would be infinitely more sympathetic.”
The talk was part of a wider weekend organised by the influential Regency Society, which was the biggest event it had been involved in since the early Regency Festivals of the 1940s and 1950s.
More than 200 people attended various events, which was headed by a keynote speech by historian and TV presenter Dan Cruickshanks.
Among the programme were walks and talks, including “So what did the Regency give us?”
Professor David Robson, the vice-chairman of the Regency Society, led a walk around the townscape of Amon Henry Wilds with a focus on Brunswick Town.
He said: “Architects and planners today would do well to look at examples of Regency town planning.
“Look at our seafront squares, which combine relatively high density housing with open spaces.”
Professor Gavin Henderson, a vice-president of the Regency Society and a former director of the Brighton Festival, said: “The example set by the lifestyle of the Prince Regent in Brighton gave legitimacy to excessive behaviour at the seaside – a fantasy world where normal moral codes are lifted.
“It’s an attitude that persists in some ways today.”
Mary McKean, chairman of the Regency Society, said: “What’s come out of this weekend is a great sense of Brighton as a most exhilarating, exciting place – vibrant, outrageous but of huge beauty and great good taste.
“It’s been a pleasure to explore and share our Regency heritage with so many people both from the city and well beyond it.”