Gardens & wildlife

Conservation Area Protection

Fern Villa 1879
picture taken from Tenantry Down near Brighton Race Course

Round Hill was designated as a conservation area in 1977. The most precious green ribbon, which is the most important green spatial aspect of the original design of the neighbourhood, could easily be ruined if permitted development extended to large garden outbuildings. A row of annexes could remove the relief offered by greenspace and detract from the distinctive period architecture just as easily as structures which could not be taken down so easily.

Previously developed ("brownfield") plots are the most vulnerable

The sites in Round Hill,  which have proved the most vulnerable to new development, are those which were previously developed and therefore counted as "brownfield". The west side of Mayo Road was largely occupied by a laundry. In the case of the strip of land to the west of Crescent Road, the development was sprawl from sheds and poorly built structures added on to laundries, though areas of drying fields were claimed too.

Gardens were "previously developed" (and therefore vulnerable) under John Prescott, but became "greenfield" again under the coalition government in 2010

In the case, of the Carelet site, residents had to press hard to get The Council to agree that this was a greenfield site, though no longer. Six houses have been built. Under John Prescott's tenure as Secretary for the Environment, gardens were not defined as "greenfield". Therefore, we had to demonstrate that the Carelet plot was a separate freehold from any of the nearby gardens, though the developer extended the application site by dividing the garden of 67 Princes Road into halves and adding the northern half to the plot of previously undeveloped land. 

Councils can now stop garden-grabbing if they choose to do so

The number of houses being built on gardens rose from one in 10 to a quarter of new properties between 1997 and 2008. Happily, one of the first acts of the 2010 coalition government under Decentralisation minister Greg Clark [Communities and Local Government Department] was to give local councils immediate powers to prevent the building of new homes in back gardens. See Garden grabbing to be curbed. The Telegraph [9 June 2010].

The green ribbon running between Roundhill Crescent and Richmond Rd/Wakefield Rd consists of back gardens to houses as well as separate freeholds to be found running across the parts of the middle. Since Councils now have greater powers to protect gardens, if they choose to do so, differentiation between freeholds is no longer needed to argue "greenfield status".

A Victorian property contemporary to those in Wakefield Road is not a precedent for constructing new development on a green ribbon that forms part of a spectacular public view.

The setting of Fern Villa, the only house on this green ribbon (dating from 1879) has remained intact for getting on for 150 years. Fern Villa is contemporary with the late 19th century period properties in Wakefield Road and has never been accepted as a precedent for putting new development on Round Hill's best green ribbon, even though unsuccessful applicants have attempted to use it as such. Creating a building line from this period property by flanking it on any side with new development would set a precedent for infill.

Fern Villa at 14 Wakefield Road is 128 years old and not a few years old as the applicant implies in her Vision Statement

This could soon mean that the long views into our conservation area are much less pleasing and the geometric patterns carefully thought out by Round Hill's original designers less recognisable. 


Policies protecting conservation areas

There would be no point in designating parts of Brighton and Hove as conservation areas, if permitted development rights were so liberal that they by-passed all the protections in the Council's strategy for Brighton and Hove's historic built environment.

What are permitted development rights, how are they limited, and which areas are excluded?

See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/when-is-permission-required#What-are-permitted-development-rights and note the exclusions.

However, also be aware that one of the main instruments for protecting the Round Hill conservation area our Article 4 Direction has specific coverage:

"most Article 4 directions relate to the facades of buildings that face onto a street, public footpath or open space. Sometimes they cover alterations and extensions at the rear of a building or back garden."

Home owners who are not sure whether the type of work thet are proposing (or work that has already taken place) does or does not require planning permission, may wish to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (Proposed) or (Existing). Possession of these certificates make it possible for residents to prove to anyone, such as a prospective buyer, that building work they've done is lawful.

Residents (or prospective buyers!) can enter street names and application types into search fields on Brighton and Hove City Council's Planning Register to see which properties in their streets have had applications for Lawful Development Certificates APPROVED or REFUSED i.e. to test out whether claims of permitted development rights are deemed lawful by the Council.

Several residents in Round Hill have already applied for Lawful Development Certificates in relation to proposals for single storey rear extensions. Some of these applications have been APPROVED; others have been REFUSED, though sometimes a few modifications to plans can make them acceptable on re-application. Decisions can be found on the Council's Planning Register under the DOCUMENTS tab as well as the case officer's report, which specifies any factors which have resulted in refusal.

What is worth protecting in Round Hill?

Each of our city's 34 conservation areas has its own character statement, outlining what is being conserved. Disappointingly, Round Hill's character statement was last revised in 2005, but our Council has a limited budget and other priorities. We have to use the statement we've got!

There are spectacular long views into the Round Hill conservation area from Race Hill, Tenantry Down, many parts of Woodvale and several other public vantage points.

It is therefore to be expected that Round Hill's Conservation Area character statement emphasises the heritage significance of the spaces and vistas as well as our neighbourhood's period architecture. Extract from


There are further green ribbons of land not visible from the street, which also define the unaltered Victorian street plan of the conservation area from a distance. The more southerly of these ribbons include some unusually large gardens which extend across the steep escarpment between the south side of Richmond Road and the north side of Round Hill Crescent.

It is in the long views of the conservation area that its greenness can be appreciated - a characteristic not evident from the streets within the area. There are no public open spaces and the only visibly accessible gardens are glimpses into private land from the stepped footway (known locally as a catcreep) which cuts steeply down the hill from the side of no. 2 Richmond Road to Round Hill Crescent. The green ribbons provided by private gardens and the railway remain valuable habitats for wildlife. Many of these linear green lungs originated as the breezy drying fields associated with Victorian laundries (away from the smoky town below), and the land attached to nurseries and small-holdings. These private back gardens contribute visual amenities to residents in this area, who do not benefit from the availability of communal parks or play areas nearby.”

Current policies relevant to Heritage

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in March 2012, states at paragraph 1.26 that “local planning authorities should set out in their Local Plan a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats”. In relation to the latter, see:

The strategy for Brighton and Hove's historic built environment 

The policies relevant to heritage, especially conservation areas, are

Section CP15 of The Brighton and Hove City Plan Part 1 scroll to page 197 together with

those retained from The Brighton and Hove Local Plan scroll to page 119.

Conservation policies in the 2016 City Plan Part 1

There are two pages (197 and 198) on policy CP15 Heritage followed by six pages on policy CP16 Open Space

retained from 2005 Brighton & Hove Local Plan

Chapter 8 Managing change within an historic environment

HE1 Listed buildings

HE2 Demolition of a listed building

HE3 Development affecting the setting of a listed building

HE4 Reinstatement of original features on listed buildings

HE6 Development within or affecting the setting of conservation areas

HE8 Demolition in conservation areas

HE9 Advertisements and signs within conservation areas and on, or in the vicinity of a listed building

HE10 Buildings of local interest

HE11 Historic parks and gardens

HE12 Scheduled ancient monuments and other important archaeological sites.

Protection of trees in conservation areas

Felling or other work on trees in conservation areas also requires notification by letter 6 weeks in advance if the stem diameter (when measured at 1.5m above ground level) exceeds 75mm = circa 3 inches). The purpose of this legal requirement is to to give the Council’s Arboricultural Service an opportunity to consider whether a Tree Preservation Order should be made in respect of the tree. See https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/leisure-and-libraries/parks-and-green-spaces/tree-preservation-orders.


This page was last updated by Ted on 13-Feb-2019
(registered users can amend this page)