Planning permission and listed building consent has been granted to start the restoration of the Grade II* listed Madeira Terrace.
The restoration of the terrace, which has been an iconic part of Brighton’s seafront since the 1890s, will be undertaken in phases. Phase 1 consists of the 40 arches between the Royal Crescent Steps in the west and Shelter Hall – the Concorde 2 venue - in the east.
Repairing, restoring, and redesigning
The restoration work will address several key areas:
- Repairing and protecting the cast iron
- Redesigning the mid-deck walkway
- Restoring decorative elements such as the striking spandrels at the front of the arches
- Installing new seating, lighting, and space for pop-ups on the deck and at ground level, to accommodate events such as food festivals or live music
- Improving public spaces on Madeira Drive, and
- Safeguarding and retaining the historic Japanese green spindle plants to re-establish the Green Wall at the back of the terrace.
A brand-new lift will be installed at the Royal Crescent Steps, allowing access 24 hours a day to Madeira Drive and the deck from Marine Parade, improving access to the seafront for all.
Along with the restoration of the eastern side of the Royal Crescent steps, a new staircase will also be created to the west of the Madeira Shelter Hall Lift.
The lifts and steps will link to two new pedestrian crossings over Madeira Drive.
Public spaces on Madeira Drive will be improved by removing some car parking, providing new planted verges and associated drainage, wayfinding signage, pedestrian crossings and cycle parking.
Consultations and community input
The application has been influenced by consultations with local access and heritage groups, as well as ongoing input from the Madeira Terrace Restoration Advisory Panel, which represents residential, business, tourism, conservation and event organiser interests in the area. Community engagement also took place throughout December 2021.
Representations on the application put before the Planning Committee included concerns about the impact of the work on the Green Wall and biodiversity, and the design of the new lift.
The contemporary looking Royal Crescent Steps lift has been deliberately designed to be less prominent than the historic Shelter Hall lift when the two are viewed together. The lift’s lantern top will be clearly visible from Marine Parade and from various points within the East Cliff Conservation Area.
Comments in support of the proposals praised the preservation of the cast iron architectural heritage. The new lift and additional access points were cited as being desperately needed, and the reopening of an accessible terrace for all was welcomed.
The Green Wall and biodiversity
Local interest groups and experts, including local Green Wall support group, Building Green, have helped advise on the best methods to protect, transplant and re-populate the wall.
A key consideration has been ensuring the longevity of the concrete-faced East Cliff, which supports the deck - without which there would be no green wall. Certain species found in the original surveys, such as sycamore, would destroy the wall over time so cannot be retained.
The 40 arches in Phase 1 are in front of the most flourishing section of the Green Wall currently. The biggest gains in biodiversity will come in subsequent phases of the restoration covering the remaining 111 arches.
Contractors will begin cleaning up the site this year and undertake preparation for restoration work starting on site in autumn 2023. Future phases of the restoration will be delivered as funding becomes available.
Our most significant project for a long time
Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “The revitalisation of Madeira Terrace is one of the most significant projects on which the council has embarked for a long time.
“Now the next chapter opens for the Terrace. Rebuilding this historic part of the seafront and restoring the country’s longest cast iron structure will return this Victorian landmark to the city, offering facilities fit for the 21st century, welcoming all communities.
“The successful regeneration of Madeira Terrace will further re-enliven the eastern end of the seafront, with featured attractions and staged events appealing to residents and visitors alike.
"The refurbished Terrace will further strengthen our offer to visitors and grow the local economy, in a city where tourism accounts for 21,000 jobs.
“We are determined to place Madeira Terrace at the heart of a rejuvenated city, protecting this unique, historic asset for generations to come while ensuring we enhance and care for our precious environment.”
Bill Puddicombe, chair of the Restoration Advisory Panel, said: “The Advisory Panel are delighted that the planning application for the first stage of the renovation has been approved.
“An important milestone in the project has been reached. We look forward to seeing further progress very soon.”
You can see the impact the first phase of restoration will have in our new video, Madeira Terrace, the next steps.