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Planning application submitted for The Keep

An architect's drawing of The Keep building

Plans for a new £19m historical resource centre that will store the University's Special Collections in the optimum environmental conditions have taken another step forward. 

East Sussex County Council, working in partnership with the University of Sussex and Brighton & Hove City Council, has submitted a planning application for The Keep, which is being funded by the two councils. 

The building, which is planned to be built at Woollards Field near Falmer (between the A270 and railway line near the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy), will provide a purpose-built home for the University's Special Collections

The University Library holds a number of archival, manuscript and rare-book collections, mostly relating to 20th-century literary, political and social history. 

Fiona Courage, Special Collections Manager, explains: "The Library building opened way back in the 1960s and it doesn't meet current British Standards for the environmental management of archives. 

"We would have to spend a lot of money to bring the building up to the standards required for things such as‎ ‏humidity, temperature, lighting and air quality. 

‎"‏Our involvement in The Keep means that our internationally acclaimed Special Collections will be stored for the first time in appropriate environmental conditions." 

At The Keep, the collections of all three partners will be available under one roof for the first time. It will house all the archives of East Sussex and Brighton & Hove - including written records, maps, plans, films, photographs, prints and drawings - as well as the library and headquarters of the Sussex Family History Group. 

The University's partnership with the two local councils also means that the Special Collections will benefit from shared archival and conservation expertise. 

In addition, it means that the Special Collections will be available to Sussex students and staff, as well as other researchers, for extended opening hours (beyond the current availability of Mondays-Thursdays 9.15am-5pm). 

The planning application is due to be determined by Brighton & Hove City Council on 14 January 2011. If successful, the partners hope to start work on site next summer and open the centre to the public in 2013. 

For further information about The Keep, see 

For a full set of all the planning application documents, see the Brighton and Hove Council website.

The Keep project management team has been liaising with other projects in the Falmer area, including the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton Aldridge Community Academy and the infrastructure improvement works being funded by SEEDA, to ensure that the projects are co-ordinated.

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Friday, 5 November 2010