September 2016 meeting minutes

Photo:Brighthelm - the venure for NLCA meetings

Brighthelm - the venure for NLCA meetings

By Adrian Carlton-Oatley

Minutes of a North Laine Community Association meeting held on 20th September 2016

 Twenty-five members attended. Apologies were received from Christine Clark-Lowes, Sandy and Peter Crowhurst, Lizzie Deane, Peter Fuller, Jane Griffiths, Tim Read, Annette Routledge, and John Sharman.


The Minutes of the last meeting were approved. There were no matters arising.


  1. The launch of the North Laine Book had been extremely successful. Apart from being a most enjoyable and interesting occasion, the evening netted £1,040 in book sales, exceeding the £1,000 that the publisher, Brighton Town Press, was hoping for. The book continues to be on sale at Raining Books and Brighton books as well as through the NLCA directly.

  2. There would be a meeting to discuss the NLCA website on 6th October at 4 pm at 38 Tidy Street. This was to look at the way we use the website and to consider ways to improve the system. Anyone who is interested and/or has particular expertise will be very welcome – please let the Secretary know that you intend to come.

  3. There would be an Allotment clear-up day on Sunday 25th September starting at 2 pm, to get the allotment ready for winter. Anyone able to give an hour or so was extremely welcome as many hands make light work. Contact Julia Wilde (details in back of the Runner) or just turn up.


As the Treasurer was not present, there was no financial report.


The main item on the social horizon was the Comedy Night at Komedia on Tuesday 8th November at 7.30. There would be an article about this in the next issue of the Runner. Tickets would be available nearer the time at £5 each from Raining Books.


Julia Wilde reported that her partner had seen two young men 'tagging' the key-cutting shop in Gloucester Road late one evening. When challenged the men simply walked off. Though they reported it to the police, they have heard nothing back. The shop owners painted the graffiti out immediately but are concerned that it is becoming more common. The continued deplorable state of the Post Office building does not help.

Julia also mentioned that residents of Foundry Street had received a letter from Equinox, the alcohol and drug outreach organisation, highlighting recent problems with Anti-social Behaviour in the area. They urged residents to report anyone they saw engaged in ASB to the Police on 101 or at Alternatively they should contact the Council's Community Safety Casework Team on 01273 294637 or at

It was felt by many that ringing 101 was ineffective and that the police did not want to deal with ASB such as urinating in the street. It also seemed that their attitude to rough sleepers was equivocal, allowing what were virtually semi-permanent bivouacs to remain in place. It was noted that there had been a proliferation of tents along the Brighton Station Greenway and elsewhere in the city, which discouraged other people from using these spaces.

The former Go Local premises at the bottom of North Road now had a notice from the Fire Brigade to the effect that it was not a suitable place for living in as there was no fire escape or alternative means of egress and this has apparently put an end to an attempt to use the premises as a squat.


The Brighton Dome had submitted a revised application for the Pavilion Theatre which now includes a rubbish door where the plans had originally indicated a café.

The John Lewis proposals for the present Boots site at the top of North Street would be slightly taller than the present building, though the frontage would be set further back giving wider pavement space and the front door, on the corner, would be angled to give more room. There were only tentative indications of what the exterior of the building would actually look like. It was as yet early days in the process and there would be considerably more discussion before firm plans were laid before the Council.

City College had changed its plans again. Jonathan Bromberg reported that the latest set of board minutes indicated that the college has not obtained the LEP funding needed for the previous proposal, so they were under increased pressure to maximise the amount they could make from the car park site to raise funds for normal running expenses. The minutes also indicated that they only wanted to interact with the Council Planning Office and so presumably would avoid communicating with the local community. Jonathan felt that the NLCA needed Cllr Lizzie Deane to help to make sure that the College's 2013 plan, though now defunct, should not provide a basis for future decisions.


Roy Skam announced that Yellow Book in York Place had withdrawn its application for extended hours.


The Council had published its plans for a City Bike Share scheme. This would involve bike hubs sited in various spots, one of which was in Whitecross Street , which would take up the place of two parking spaces and add to the congestion on a busy corner. It was agreed a letter should be sent suggesting Station Street as a more suitable location.


There was nothing to report on the Runner.


Nothing was raised.

TALK: Kelvin MacDonald, former secretary of the NLCA, spoke on The Future of North Laine.

 Mr MacDonald started with the point was that we must learn from the past to look to the future and asked: what do we love about North Laine? These were the things we need to protect for the future. It is what we care about that we need to focus on. The City Plan was integral to thoughts of the future. Council policy includes provision for small businesses and affordable mixed use. Small scale changes happen all the time. Communities are made of people, not buildings, which is something planners need to remember. We wanted the 'village' atmosphere to grow forty years ago: creating the North Laine conservation area meant that North Laine had a secure future which meant people could make plans; new houses were built on vacant sites.

How do we make our future? A start is to begin a Neighbourhood Plan. Neighbourhood Plans take precedence over even the City Plan. There were many good websites offering advice as to how we could go about this – improving things, reinforcing what is good, knowing how to obtain council assistance. The Council has for each area an Enhancement Plan – the North Laine Enhancement plan is dated 1995 and is therefore in need of updating.

An American planning expert, Jane Jacobs, had observed “The chaotic old city is a marvellous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city.” Some places had involved themselves with the Slow Cities movement with its emphasis on small actions and encouraging local businesses and activities like Local Tidy Up Schemes, leading to an organic, holistic approach. It was important to protect and grow local businesses, which effectively meant finding ways to keep out the chains such as Starbucks etc. See .

 Brighton is in many ways a 'divided city' where there are many in need of access to the basic requirements for living. New initiatives existed to cope with this, from the container flats at the bottom of New England Street to the housing co-operatives already in existence. There was scope in the community ownership of assets, as in the case of the 'Bevvy', the local pub in Bevendean that was taken over by the local community when threatened with closure.

Schemes needed to be dreamed up to deal with transport – Lewis Mumford: “Forget the d--d motor car and build the city for lovers and friends.”

And finally – celebrate: get grants from 'Celebrate England' to celebrate what is unique and valuable in our community.


The Chair thanked Mr MacDonald for his talk and the meeting ended at 9.35 pm.

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