Why I will be objecting to the plans on heritage grounds

Susie Kyriacou, Architect and Local Resident

When we talk about saving the Dyke Pub, I believe it’s important not just to think of saving a valued community hub, but also saving a significant piece of local architectural heritage. I feel strongly that proposed changes to the exterior of the building are damaging to its character and should not be permitted. The building is on the local list of heritage assets and should be conserved.

Proposals include removal of the original central chimney to make way for circulation for flats in the roof and removal of the dovecote / pigeon house on the back roof to make way for a window. Several new windows are proposed: dormer windows on the back, two new sash windows in gables and rooflights across the whole roof. There will also be a new pub sign on the timber balustrade above the porch.

The Dyke was built in 1895, in a mock-Tudor half-timbered style. The architect, Charles Henry Buckman, had already worked with his client, Tamplins Brewery, on several projects. One of these was Tamplin’s Phoenix Brewery office on Richmond Terrace (now the Phoenix Community Centre). The building is Grade II listed.

The Dyke pub is carefully composed and well-detailed. Its principal elevations onto Dyke Road and Highcroft Villas have changed very little over time. The building is positioned at a crossroads on a key route into Brighton. It is a local landmark, designed to tempt and welcome passers-by.

The chimneys are beautifully detailed with fluted red brickwork. The northernmost chimney has a strong base and scrolling brickwork, it pierces the overhanging eaves and stands tall, visible from afar. The central and southernmost chimneys set up a rhythm of prominent chimneys visible as you approach the building along Dyke Road. The central chimney contains flues from several fireplaces within the building. Instead of multiple small chimneys the architect designed robust, landmark, statement chimneys which are intrinsic to the building’s character and architectural value. Removal of the central chimney should not be permitted.

The gables also play a role in making the building a landmark. On the Dyke Road elevation, they form bookends at either side of the façade. On the rear elevation the gable marks the building out as you approach from Highcroft Villas (note there is no gable at the other end of the rear elevation, where it would not be seen). A new window is proposed in this gable. Its central location feels odd in what purports to be timber framing, because we expect a central vertical timber as part of the structure.

On the Highcroft Villas elevation the gable is again located close to the junction where it can be seen from afar. This time a central vertical timber (king post) is expressed in the design of the timber work, designed to give the appearance of having a structural role. To cut the post in two and introduce a new window is deeply unsympathetic to the building.

The dovecote on the rear roof is a whimsical element which reminds us that when the Dyke was built much of the surrounding area was still fairly rural, with farmland to the north. The area was on the cusp of suburban development. The dovecote is an interesting feature and its removal is harmful to the character of the building.

The building was conceived for single use, as ‘The Dyke Road Hotel’. An area for signage was designed into the facade, above the window to the left of the porch. New signage fixed to the timber balustrade above the porch feels like an add-on, and is detrimental to the overall composition of the facade.

Additional windows peppered across the roof will make it messy, and detract from the architectural language of the building, where the calm of an expanse of red clay tiles sets off the complex interplay of features and materials elsewhere.

The division of the ground floor into pub / shop follows the line of an original partition, however we must consider the reasons for the removal of this original partition. Pubs used to be segregated by class and the Dyke had different rooms for different people. As social culture has changed, so have pubs. The ground floor of the Dyke was opened up which gives it a sense of space and inclusivity, and allows sunlight to permeate from multiple aspects. Furthermore the plans show removal of the bar on the ‘retail’ side. This bar is original to the building and very much worthy of retention. The threat to original wall panelling, ceiling mouldings, etc. is unknown.

Many original features have already been lost. Beautiful etched and cut glass windows have been removed and replaced with clear glass in recent years, and a particularly attractive stained glass window was taken out next to the entrance. These treasures should not have been trashed. We owe it to the future that no further damage is done to erode the special character of the building.

I am not against change to historic buildings per se. Buildings need to adapt to changing needs and the Dyke has done that over the years. The 1930s addition of toilets made sense for a generation who no longer expected to go outside to use the loo. The 2010 enlargement of the kitchen made sense to accommodate changing expectations of food in pubs (I’m told in the 1950s the only food available was a ham sandwich). And we must improve access for everybody into our buildings. But when changes are proposed that are detrimental to the character of a historic building and the benefit is not significant – that’s when I object.

Click here to read more about the owners’ plans for redevelopment of the Dyke Pub.

Submit your own objections by 10th July 2017 on the Council website at bit.ly/BH201701917 – click the COMMENTS tab.