Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and his author wife Polly Samson are at the centre of some controversy regarding their Medina House property development. It seems as though they are on the verge of receiving planning permission to demolish a Victorian bathhouse and rebuild on the seafront at Hove. This property has a history which goes back to 1894 but like so many historic buildings across the UK it has fallen into disrepair. So, why is the Council on the verge of giving David Gilmour permission to demolish and rebuild this historic building?
Vacant since 1993
The property, situated at Kings Esplanade, Hove, was acquired by the celebrity couple back in October 2015 for what is believed to be a seven figure sum. The couple have an extended family of eight children and were looking to create their dream family home overlooking the sea. While nothing has been set in stone as yet, Brighton and Hove City Council planning officers have given a very clear indication that they will allow the property to be demolished and rebuilt.
Despite the fact the property has a history going back to 1894 and is the last remaining element of the historic Hove seafront bath complex it seems this means nothing to the council. It has prompted a major argument as to whether historic buildings, which often lay vacant, should be protected or should they be forced to move with the times?
Dream property plans
The celebrity couple have already submitted detailed plans to the council for a property which includes a large open plan living area, kitchen, dining room, hall, study, library, snug, covered garden, gym and five bedrooms. The proposed development will extend beyond the dimensions of the current development but take in land which is part of the historic property. There appear to be serious concerns about the 20 m extension of the eastern wing which will tower some 7 m higher than neighbouring homes.
The fact that the size of the proposed dream home could reduce the light to neighbouring houses is obvious a concern but so far the council have refused to act on this. Perhaps if the height of the property was reduced then this might smooth the way for a less controversial planning deal?
Should historic properties be protected?
There is no doubt that many historic properties up and down the UK are maintained and some of them are often open to the public – but not all are in good repair. The fact that this particular property in Hove overlooks the sea and is the last of the historic bath buildings does perhaps strengthen the case for council intervention. However, even the most ardent critics of the plans acknowledge that the building itself has been vacant since 1993 and is becoming something of an eyesore. So, should historic properties be protected?
The reality is that protection of such properties can only really be considered on a property by property basis. Protecting individual historic buildings for the sake of it has seen many fall into disrepair and but a shadow of their former selves. The fact that it is a celebrity couple seeking permission to demolish the historic property and rebuild on the land seems to be neither here nor there in this particular situation.
Will the council demand some changes to the original plans to appease the general public? Whatever does happen, it seems pretty clear that the planning application will be rubberstamped and yet another historic building across the UK will disappear.