Tue 26 Aug 2014
Building opinions: Robert Nemeth on ‘The Coach House’ at 12 Howard Place
Regular readers know that I rarely write about properties that are for sale. But a curious upside-down house, on a unique backland plot overlooking the railway line, has really caught my eye.
Buckingham Place is the busy stretch of bright white terraced Victorian townhouses that runs from Seven Dials to Brighton Station. Behind it is the extremely quiet Howard Place that offers elevated views across the railway and the London Road valley. Local architect Alan Cronshow, whom I have mentioned before in this column, has just finished working on a brand new detached house, fronting Howard Place, at the rear of 51 Buckingham Place.
The plot was previously occupied by a large garage with a driveway, so it makes sense that the new house has been designed to ‘read like a coach house’. It has actually been named ‘The Coach House’. Planning permission was some time in the making, and the final decision was won on appeal by developer Ian Bunday of Clifton Properties. Levitt Construction was chosen as main contractor.
The reason that I was particularly interested in the project is that I like it a lot, despite constantly being torn on the issue of garden/garage developments (though in this case I should point out that there is actually more garden space now than before development commenced). I suppose that the rule should really be that parts of a plot with their own road frontage are fair game, but true backland development where there is garden-grabbling (behind Hove Park houses for example) should be discouraged.
In the case of 12 Howard Place (‘The Coach House’), it pretty much goes without saying that it is delightful inside. The upside-down layout creates incredible views from a 30ft-long open-plan lounge/kitchen upstairs. The house’s two double bedrooms downstairs do not need require such views to fulfil their purpose fully, after all. Gadgets include a light tube in the bathroom and a light chamber in one of the bedrooms. They really do work.
This isn’t the first time that I have written about Alan’s work. He was the architect who was responsible for combining two flats into one at the top of 58 Marine Parade which has arguably the finest staircase in the city on one of the longest building footprints. He’s currently working on barn conversions in Steyning and near Wadhurst, amongst other things.