Cutting red tape - Sussex set to be the first university to sign a listed building agreement
The University of Sussex is leading the way with a new agreement with Brighton & Hove City Council and English Heritage to protect the University’s unique 1960s listed buildings and streamline the planning process.
The University, the council and English Heritage are set to sign up to a Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreement which will be the second such agreement in the country - and the first involving a university.
The University of Sussex was the first of a new wave of universities created in the early 1960s. The early buildings were designed by the celebrated architect, Sir Basil Spence, and include one Grade l (Falmer House) and seven Grade II* listed buildings. They have many common design features, such as flat roofs, red brick and concrete arches. The fact that these buildings are listed in the two highest grades is a reflection of their considerable quality and significance. The University has continued to develop the site in sympathy with the early design and site layout.
The agreement will mean that Listed Building Consent for general or repeated work would be granted without the need for the University to individually apply for consent – cutting red tape and saving time and money. This includes work to repair or replace the external fabric of buildings, internal fixtures and finishes to upgrade teaching facilities and works to improve safety and accessibility.
The University has carried out best practice for such works for many years and contributed to the current guidelines for listed buildings on the campus. It currently makes several listed building consent applications every year.
The agreement would set conditions to ensure that work is carried out consistently using materials in keeping with buildings.
A draft Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreement was agreed by the council’s Economic Development and Culture committee in January and since then has been subject to public consultation.
At a meeting on March 12 the committee will be recommended to give final approval for the agreement – if agreed it will be the second in the country.*
Charles Dudley, Director of Residential and Campus Services at the university, said: “We are delighted to have reached such an agreement with English Heritage and BHCC allowing us to improve our facilities within our listed buildings in a more timely and efficient manner. It also reflects our continuing excellent stewardship of the campus.”
Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the Economic Development and Culture Committee, said: “The council and the University have built up a considerable amount of expertise about these famous buildings over the years which we now want to put to good use to guide future work.
“The proposed Heritage Partnership Agreement will be a great way of pooling resources and it will enable the University of Sussex to plan strategically for work that will have automatic consent. It will save having to make separate applications to the planning authority for minor works and it will save resources at the council, too.”
Dr Andy Brown, Planning and Conservation Director for English Heritage in the South East, said: “This Agreement is a big step forward and clears the way for a schedule of on-going works to be drawn up by Sussex University. The LBHPA removes the ‘them and us’ situation and gives the comfort of a team working towards the same goal to protect the nation’s heritage for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.”
Samantha Johnson, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas for English Heritage in the South East said: "Spence's buildings at Sussex University are an outstanding example of twentieth century architecture.
"Spence's inspiration was from the classical forms of Ancient Rome. At Sussex, the voids and spaces he created at Falmer House capture the idea of the ruinous condition of the Colosseum. He was also influenced by Le Corbusier's Maisons Jaoul which is seen at Sussex in the concrete arches and austere red brickwork across the campus.
"The buildings, which include the sculptural Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and the beautiful Meeting House with jewel-like windows, create an exceptional 'set piece' around Fulton Court [Library Square] well worthy of its high designation. The LBHPA will be another tool to aid the long term conservation of this exceptional collection of buildings."
The proposed agreement will run for 10 years, subject to periodic review.
Notes for editors
In making this proposal Brighton & Hove City Council is using new powers created in 2014 giving councils the power to make Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreements to manage alterations to major listed buildings or groups of listed buildings in the same ownership.
Brighton & Hove City Council press office 01273 291035 or 293033
University of Sussex press office 01273 678888 email@example.com
English Heritage Press Office Debbie Hickman, Communications Manager,
020 7973 3855 or firstname.lastname@example.org