16 October 2013

Common Room could be here to stay

There’s still time to give your views on proposals to make permanent improvements to Ann Street and Providence Place Gardens, next to St Bartholomew’s Church.

Consultation, which runs until 24 November, follows a successful pilot scheme to transform the area into an open air 'Common Room'.  

The Common Room was the winning design for the council’s Lively Cities competition to radically change and improve the area just off the city’s busy London Road.

Proposals include:

  • Removing existing railings and creating terraced steps along the length of Providence Place Gardens (the small park in front of the church), making the park more open and easier for people to access
  • New seating in the park and along Ann Street
  • A shared road surface for pedestrians and vehicles, similar to the approach used in Brighton’s New Road
  • Landscaping to link the church with the park
  • An open flexible space at the bottom of Ann Street, including provision for London Road shoppers to sit and relax
  • A ban on large lorries in the area

The aim is to create a space that people can enjoy and spend time in.

To take part, visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/livelycities

Councillor Pete West, chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, which approved the next stage, said: “This is a small project with the potential to make a big impact. It is a grass-roots scheme in every sense, coming from the local community and shaped by it.

“The proposals to make permanent improvements will build on the success of the pilot and help the regeneration of the London Road area. We are also expecting the improvements to encourage additional private sector investment in new developments at the back of London Road shops – this will help to further improve the environment of Providence Place and Elder Place, all of which is good news for local shops and businesses.”

The proposed scheme is one of a range of initiatives being carried out to regenerate the London Road area. Other projects include improvements to The Level, the Open Market, redevelopment of the former Co-op department store, the Portas scheme, and the near completion of the New England Quarter which will complete the pedestrian route linking London Road with the rear of Brighton Station.

The Ann Street/Providence Place Gardens scheme is part of the Lively Cities project, which receives financial assistance from the European Union through the INTERREG IVB programme. Similar schemes including the square outside the Eurostar Terminal at Lille and The Green in Aberdeen.



During the two week experiment a year ago, the council, with the help of Luis Trevino architects, Plan Projects and students from nearby City College, made temporary changes to the underused space, to transform the area's image and encourage more people to use it.

Barriers came down and picnic tables, seating, an art wall and ping pong tables set up in Providence Place Gardens. Ann Street was covered with artificial turf and there were a series of activities.

Ideas came from the community and it is the first time the council has involved local people in such a project at every stage.

The council took forward the successful aspects of the pilot to draw up the draft scheme for permanent changes and the local community will once again inform the next stage of the project.

Consultation results will be brought back to committee for final decision. If agreed, work will begin next spring.