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11 & 12 Heene Terrace (former Mayfair Hotel) Worthing West Sussex Heritage Impact Assessment Proposed conversion to flats

Nicholas Antram IHBC - August 2011


Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

1.0

The Commission

1.1

This report accompanies applications for planning permission and listed building consent for the repair and conversion of the former Mayfair Hotel into 11 flats. As advised by policy HE6 of the Government’s Planning Policy Statement 5, this report considers the significance of the listed building and the impact of the proposed works on the special architectural and historic interest of the Grade 2 listed building and the impact on the character and appearance of the Marine Parade and Hinterland Conservation Area.

1.2

I am familiar with the site and visited on 19th July 2011.

2.0

Brief CV

2.1

I am an architectural historian with 25 years diverse experience in the heritage sector. I have a detailed knowledge of historic buildings and areas and their management, including the evaluation of merit, research, assessment of change and philosophies of conservation repair/restoration. Self-employed since March 2005 my clients include local authorities, English Heritage and several Roman Catholic Diocese, as well as individuals. I am revising the Buildings of England volume on Sussex, published by Yale University Press and co-wrote the Pevsner City Guide to Brighton & Hove (published by Yale University Press 2008).

2.2

In the past I have worked for: English Heritage (1994-2005); London Borough of Tower Hamlets (1989-1994); The National Trust (19861989); Derbyshire County Council (1983-1986); and the RIBA Drawings Collection (1979-1983).

2.3

Other relevant experience includes: membership of the Buildings Subcommittee of the Victorian Society (1980-1997), Derby DAC (19841986), IHBC Technical Panel (1998-1999); SPAB Committee (19942001). I am the author of the revised edition of the BoE volume on Lincolnshire (1989) and made contributions to the Faber Guide to Victorian Churches (1987) and Betjeman’s Guide to English Parish Churches (1994).

3.0

Summary •

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The proposal is to repair and restore Nos. 11 & 12 Heene Terrace and to convert the two properties from a redundant hotel to 11 flats. As such there would be major benefit to the listed building and to the conservation area. There are two aspects of the proposed scheme that will be considered contentious, the proposed loss of an original staircase and the original staircase locations and the proposed


Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

introduction of 4 rear dormers in the upper part of the mansard roof. The loss of the staircase and the historic staircase locations is justified on the basis that the narrow plan form of these traditional terraced houses makes flat conversion inherently difficult and requires a compromise to be made. The benefit of the proposed scheme is that the principal front and rear rooms would be preserved, with all their architectural features intact. The proposed rear dormer windows are exceptionally carefully and traditionally designed and located on an elevation of very much secondary significance. There is already some variety and these dormers would not jar with the character of this part of the listed building. In addition, the financial viability of the scheme is borderline, bringing in an ‘enabling development’ argument.

4.0

Historical background

4.1

Like Brighton, Worthing developed from a small fishing village to a resort during the 19th century, but Worthing’s transformation happened a little later and was less dramatic in scale. Early seaside Worthing was further east but by the mid 19th century the settlement of Heene was being developed, with sea defences and esplanade under construction in 1864. Heene Terrace, built in 1865, was an attempt to establish this part of ‘West Worthing’ as a fashionable part of the resort town.

4.2

Heene Terrace was Grade 2 listed on 12th September 1975. The list description describes it as ‘a unified composition set back from the sea front behind a garden.’ The style is typical of the mid-century Italianate. The scale is impressive, with taller five-bay end pavilions, nine-bay centre with continuous colonnade and twenty-one bays to the left and right of the centre section. The terrace is all the more impressive for being set back from Marine Parade. The whole terrace, apart from the western end pavilion (Western Mansions) has a continuous first floor balcony with decorative ironwork and spiral columns supporting a tent roof.

4.3

The Marine Parade and Hinterland Conservation Area covers a linear strip along Marine Parade from Prospect Place in the east to Heene Terrace and Heene Road in the west. Behind Heene Terrace, Heene Place is included and nearby Bath Road and Abbey Road fall within the adjoining Ivy Place Conservation Area. The Marine Parade and Hinterland Conservation Area Character Appraisal refers to the ‘cohesive and characteristic seafront’ with Heene Terrace ‘a grand Victorian interpretation of Regency features.’ It is indeed the grandest terrace on this part of the Worthing sea front.

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Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

5.0

Assessment of special interest of Heene Terrace

5.1

As is recognised in PPS5 Planning for the Historic Environment, it is important with any listed building, or other heritage asset, to understand its significance. There can be little doubt that what is supremely important about Heene Terrace is that it presents to Marine Parade a uniform composition of immense scale and of considerable quality and interest in its detailing.

5.2

The rear of Heene Terrace, unsurprisingly, has been subject to incremental change during the 146 years since it was built and much of its uniformity has been lost. There is a consistent rhythm of paired projecting rear wings but there would always have been much less attention to appearances at the rear and it is evident that changes took place from an early date (e.g. a Victorian oriel on one property).

5.3

The interiors of Nos. 11 and 12 retain the decorative features one might expect to find, plaster cornices, moulded joinery, fireplaces and chimneypieces and one of the two original staircases.

6.0

Description of the proposals

6.1

It is proposed to convert the former Mayfair Hotel (which itself comprised two adjoining houses in the terrace) into 11 flats. In listed building terms the principle of conversion is not significant and the planning aspects are not dealt with in this report.

6.2

It is intended that the front of Nos. 11 & 12 will be completely repaired and restored, with missing features reinstated. The front entrance of No. 12 will be reinstated as a front door serving one of the units, whilst the front entrance of No. 11 will serve the other units. The three chimneystacks on the front roof pitch will be reinstated to their original profile and detail.

6.3

It is intended to restore the rear elevation of Nos. 11 & 12 with the exception of the lower two floors, where some change of fenestration is required to give adequate light to flats. At higher level it is proposed to remove two large skylights and to replace them with 4 conservation rooflights. More controversially it is also proposed to introduce roof dormers (4 in number) inserted into the upper pitch of the mansard roof.

6.4

With regard to the interior a decision has been taken to preserve the plan form of the main front and rear reception rooms, retaining decorative moulded plaster and joinery and fireplaces and chimneypieces, as these are a strong feature of the building and survive surprisingly intact. Where kitchens are introduced, these would be done using an open plan arrangement, and where bathrooms are

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Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

introduced these would be done as ‘pods’ within the existing rooms, stopping short of ceilings and leaving cornices intact. 7.0

Assessment

7.1

The proposed residential conversion of Nos. 11 & 12 is largely beneficial and uncontentious in listed building terms. What will be of concern are two key elements, the proposed loss of the original staircase in No. 12 (that in No. 11 has already been severely compromised by the insertion of a lift) and the proposed introduction of 4 roof dormers to the upper pitch of the mansard roof at the rear.

7.2

The nature of traditional terraced houses is that they are narrow (to maximise frontage) with a standard floor plan of larger front room, smaller rear room and a staircase compartment at the rear. Normally there would also be a half-width rear extension as indeed there is at Heene Terrace. Conversion to flats usually requires compromises to the plan form of the main rooms and enclosure of the staircase. The surprising survival of period features in the main rooms of Nos. 11 & 12 has led to the adoption of a plan which retains these rooms little altered but the price paid for this is the need to move the staircase to the centre of the two buildings.

7.3

Although one of the staircases is complete and largely original (with iron balustrade), the benefit to maintaining the front and rear rooms intact with all their features seems to me to justify the loss of the staircase, in a situation where some loss to facilitate conversion is inevitably required. In addition, the significance of the listed building lies principally in its exterior form to Marine Parade. One of these 1865 houses individually would not merit listing and in my view this helps justify some loss of original interior fabric. It is proposed that the staircase balustrade would be reused.

7.4

As is detailed elsewhere the financial viability of this proposed repair, restoration and conversion scheme is borderline and it is considered essential to achieve a flat in the upper roof space. This would require internal modification to the roof structure but this fabric is not in my view intrinsically significant. It would also be necessary to achieve adequate light levels for habitable spaces, which clearly would be undesirable from the front.

7.5

The first proposal was to pepper the rear roof slope with rooflights. After discussion on site it was felt that it would be preferable to replace the two large skylights with 4 conservation rooflights (set flush with the roof surface) and to introduce 4 well-designed dormer windows. There is already some variety at the rear of Heene Terrace and it is self evident that the rear elevations are of much lesser significance to the listed terrace than the front. There is already one very ill designed upper roof extension towards the western end of the terrace, although

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Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

this most probably pre-dates the listing. However, I noted on site that 4 dormer windows have been erected recently on the rear of Western Mansions (which forms the western pavilion end of Heene Terrace). Whilst the roof form here is different, the dormers are very dominant owing to their design with deep cheeks and tops. There is one other, more period style, dormer at the upper level further down the terrace and one slate-clad protrusion (probably a lift over run) nearer the eastern end. 7.6

In addition to the rooflights, what is proposed for Nos. 11 & 12 are 4 very well detailed dormers, shown at 1:10 scale and with full size details, showing how the all important depth of the cheeks and top would be kept to the traditional slender profile, greatly reducing the likely visual impact of these proposed additions. In fact, owing to the height and depth of the rear extensions the dormers, and to a much lesser extent the rooflights, would only be visible in oblique angles, or potentially from a considerable distance. They would not of course be seen in true elevation. Insertion of the dormers might also be considered as ‘enabling development’; the argument in support being the financial information provided which shows the fragile viability of the conversion.

7.7

The proposed external alterations at basement and ground floor level at the rear would only be seen in isolation when close to the building and would have no adverse impact on the listed building.

7.8

With regard to the impact of the proposed conversion on the character and appearance of the Marine Parade and Hinterland Conservation Area, this can only be positive, with the frontage being carefully repaired and restored. The conservation area boundary at the rear is largely drawn along the back garden/yard walls of Heene Terrace. The proposed dormer windows at the rear might be visible from Heene Place (within the conservation area) and from points within the Ivy place Conservation Areas, but if they were visible, the views would be oblique and distant, such that there would be no adverse impact.

8.0

Conclusion

8.1

What is proposed for Nos. 11 & 12 is a careful repair and restoration of the frontage facing Marine Parade, considerably enhancing and preserving the special interest of the listed building and enhancing the character and appearance of the conservation area.

8.2

The proposed internal conversion work does entail compromise. An original staircase and the original staircase locations are sacrificed in order to preserve the plan form and interiors of the main front and rear rooms which are well preserved in terms of architectural features. This would make for a much more satisfactory flat conversion layout. If this is not justification enough, account should also be taken as to the

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Heene Terrace - Heritage Impact Assessment th Nicholas Antram 4 August 2011

significance of the listed terrace. In my view the significance lies in the architecture and townscape of the whole rather than the plan form and interior detailing of the individual houses. This is not to suggest that the interiors are not important or part of the listing, but in the context of the overall proposal, should weigh in the scales, tipping the balance in favour of the proposed degree of intervention. 8.3

The proposed rear dormers are of first-rate design in accordance with traditional practice. They should be seen in the context of the overall proposals and part of a scheme that is of marginal economic viability according to the figures available. There is thus a degree of the argument of ‘enabling development’. But there is also much less uniformity at the rear and the terrace is not viewed as a single composition. In my view there would not therefore be any significant harm to the listed building.

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