North Laine History

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What do I need Planning Permission for?

A Victorian Townscape worth saving

It was realized in the mid 1970s that what remained of North Laine constituted an important Victorian townscape worth preserving and so Conservation Area status was conferred on it. See the article on Ken Fines to discover how this all came about. This status has prevented developers from knocking down properties and making large scale changes. Without Conservation Area status, North Laine would not be the place it is today. The Victorian townscape of narrow streets of small terraced houses is largely intact between Church Street and Trafalgar Street and gives the area its character not to be found anywhere else in Brighton.

Brighton’s Industrial Suburb

North Laine was for over a hundred years the industrial suburb of Brighton and was where water, wood and animals were turned into drink, furniture, building materials and food and the mix of industrialized, commercial and residential accommodation can still be seen in the area. With the protections that came with Conservation Area status, large companies could not demolish buildings to produce larger accommodation for their businesses so that the area became suitable for small scale, independent businesses. Being so close to Brighton’s transport hub and the seafront, the area has become popular for its café culture and ‘independent’ style shops. None of this would have happened without Conservation Area status and the planning restrictions that came with it.

What constitutes a conservation area?

The council defines a conservation area as an area considered to be of ‘special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Planning controls are obviously tighter in conservation areas although the level of control can vary between building types. In North Laine though, as a result of the erosion of some features of the conservation area, controls are now tighter as a result of Article 4 Directions.

Article 4 Directions affect all of North Laine

Article 4 Directions mean that planning permission is required for minor developments. This includes for example new porches, replacement windows and doors, replacement roof coverings and painting of the exterior. Article 4 Directions apply to the front façade of buildings that face onto a street, public footpath or open space. Sometimes they also cover alterations and extensions at the rear of a building or the back garden. It is always best to check with the Council before you begin even minor developments in the Conservation Area.

Developments which require planning permission in North Laine now include the following:

Pruning or felling a tree

Carrying out demolition works

Building a roof extension or a roof dormer

Applying stone, timber or tile cladding to any façade.

The erection of a satellite dish on a chimney or the front façade

The demolition of a boundary wall or railings, or the erection, construction or alteration of a gate, fence or wall where these would front a highway or open space.

Listed Buildings

There are in North Laine a number of listed buildings and the planning controls for these buildings are as you would expect even tighter. You will need ‘Listed Building Consent’ from the  Council for any works that would affect the character of a listed building. These works  could include demolition, alteration or extensions to the building, both inside  and out. It also includes changes to boundaries. The listing of a building implies that it will be preserved as far as possible and there is a strong presumption against demolition.

You will find a list of all the listed buildings in North Laine here.

In addition to the listed buildings, the Council has its own list of buildings, parks or gardens which are considered to be of special interest because of its local historic, architectural, design or townscape value.

You will find here  a list of all the Locally Listed  Heritage Assets.

Contact the Council's Planning Team

If you are in any doubt as to whether you need Planning Consent it is best to ask someone from the Council's Planning Team. They can be contacted by telephone on (01273) 292222 from 10:00am to 12:00 noon, Monday to Thursdays except Bank Holidays, or by email:

North Laine c1850

North Laine’s cafe culture would not have been possible without conservation area status

It is important that the character of the conservation area be protected

Roof dormers may require permission

PVC windows are not allowed on the front facade of buildings in the conservation area