Protecting the Prince Albert pub

Dear Sonia (case officer) and Nicola Hurley (interim Head of Planning),

Re: BH2022/02492 - 47 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4ED

I've been contacted by several constituents who have concerns about the planning application submitted to develop the site at 47 Trafalgar Street. The concerns being raised by my constituents are due to the proximity of the site to the Prince Albert, a much-loved and popular pub and live music venue in the North Laine.

I share my constituents' concerns about the potential issues this development could pose so close to an established live music venue like the Prince Albert. I actively lobbied the Government about the need for better protections for live music venues, and I pushed for, and I support, the agent of change principle. As Brighton and Hove City Council will be aware, the agent of change has been incorporated into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which notes that:

"187. Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated effectively with existing businesses and community facilities (such as places of worship, pubs, music venues and sports clubs). Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established. Where the operation of an existing business or community facility could have a significant adverse effect on new development (including changes of use) in its vicinity, the applicant (or ‘agent of change’) should be required to provide suitable mitigation before the development has been completed."

Grassroots music venues play such an important role in the city's night-time economy, and Brighton and Hove is well known for its vibrant and creative arts sector and for its role nurturing new talent. It is vital that councillors considering this planning application reflect the spirit of the agent of change in any planning decision made to ensure that the future of the Prince Albert is not placed at an increased risk as result of any new development. I am aware that many councillors and officers are already alert to the risk grassroots music venues face, and that this is something which has been a factor in discussions for the City Council's City Plan. When this application is discussed by the Planning Committee, I encourage councillors to ensure that the rich history of the Prince Albert is taken into consideration, and its value as an important part of the fabric of the city's music scene is properly recognised.

It is my view that strong protections must be in place to ensure that any new development does not create a potential noise nuisance issue which could later threaten the existence of this venue. Whilst the current application does not include housing, I know that campaigners, and members of the local community, are concerned that a future change in use could potentially put the live music venue at risk. With pubs and grassroots music venues suffering the devastating double blow a global pandemic and cost of living and inflationary crisis, it is essential that councillors carefully consider how developments could adversely impact trading – such as periods of time where the seating space at the front of the pub might not be useable.

The Prince Albert is not simply a pub - it is a place of great cultural importance to the city - as a live music venue but also the building itself. The building is well known for its colourful mural to music icons and was the original home to the world-famous Kissing Coppers by Banksy. Its proximity to Brighton Station and prominence on Trafalgar Street mean it is one of the most photographed landmarks in Brighton and Hove and I would urge councillors on the committee take this into account too.

Should councillors on the planning committee have any concerns that this proposal would jeopardise usual trading or the future of the Prince Albert, I feel it would be appropriate to refuse the application on that basis.

Best wishes,