3 September 2015

Council reveals plan to stop seafront collapse and rebuild Victorian hall

Proposals to rebuild the city’s seafront at West Street have been unveiled; outlining a £10million investment as part of the council’s Seafront Investment Programme.

Brighton & Hove was one of only relatively few councils to win funding from the government’s Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund. The council secured £9 million to undertake the work which will also save the seafront road from collapse and protect it for the future.

The scheme will rebuild the historic Shelter Hall to become a flagship commercial location for the 21st century, creating a new walkway on the beach, enlarging the upper prom area and building new public toilets on the seafront. 

Preparatory work has begun on realignment of the lower promenade opposite the bottom of West Street. Construction is planned to start in October.

As the work progresses, one lane of the westbound carriageway will be shut for a distance of about 50metres either side of the bottom of West Street. The junction will include a filter for right turns into West Street.

Due to the age of the structure and complexity of the construction, the closure is expected to be in place from 2016 for two and a half years. The Shelter Hall, at 150-154 Kings Road Arches, was built in the 1880s supporting the upper promenade and the highway. This is now the main coastal route through the city and engineers will be rebuilding it underneath the road.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the city’s environment and transport committee, said:  “We have a once in a generation opportunity to do this work and we are fortunate to have secured funding to completely rebuild a section of the seafront highway, provide a new sea wall and reconstruct an historic building.

“This is the first stage of our investment into the seafront’s infrastructure which is urgently in need of restoration and regeneration. The project is not only essential for the seafront, but will protect the A259 for the next 150 years. If we don’t do it now we risk the road becoming unusable and being closed entirely.

“This autumn we will bring forward more solutions to save our seafront as we put together a practical programme to regenerate the city’s jewel in the crown.”

Brighton’s Shelter Hall is part of the historic Kings Road Arches. It is currently in very poor condition. The work has to be undertaken to prevent the A259 from collapsing and to rebuild the structure.

James Stevens, Head of UK Development at Standard Life Investments, project partner for the Waterfront Project, said: “Standard Life Investments welcomes the council’s proposals to rebuild Shelter Hall and reconfigure the junction above.  This project supports two of the city’s most important assets; the seafront and the transport network.  Making the city as easy to move around as possible is as important as protecting the seafront and the existing infrastructure.  It’s great to see this confidence in the city and we’re sure it will help to encourage other investors to get started on their own projects.”

Brighton & Hove City Council is contributing nearly £1.7 million towards the scheme from Local Transport Plan funding. The project will be overseen by the team which created the award-winning seafront arches restoration near the i360 development.

The council will be making sure that disruption to traffic is kept to a minimum, and the partial lane closure will be linked to an overall plan to ensure traffic management is co-ordinated with other major schemes in the city.

During the work to rebuild the Shelter Hall, shared pedestrian and cycle access along the upper prom will be maintained at all times, along with access to the lower prom. The West Street junction will also be kept open including access to Churchill Square and car parks.


Background

In 2013 a gym occupying the Shelter Hall was moved out after the building was found to have serious structural weaknesses.  An internal propping up system was installed to prevent the structure from collapse and to protect pedestrians and cyclists above. Propping up the existing structure is currently costing the council around £110,000 a year.

The rebuilding work will enable the Shelter Hall to be entirely demolished and recreated. It will be remodelled to provide two internal floors instead of the current one, with a rotunda on top and a roof terrace. The building will also incorporate new public toilets.

Brighton & Hove City Council plans for these spaces to be occupied by businesses, in turn earning revenue to help maintain the seafront.

Last year, a council scrutiny panel looking into the city’s seafront infrastructure found that new revenue sources would be crucial to maintaining the seafront.  Public funds are insufficient to meet a projected £100m repairs bill for ageing retaining walls and structures.