Neil Rosborough is a long-term member of the Trust and a lives close to the West Pier site. Here are his thoughts.
Home from home neglect
Living in Sussex Heights my front garden has been Regency Square for 28 years and for most of this time I was working at the South Bank Centre’s (SBC) Royal Festival Hall In London.
Before the turn of the century both home and workplace environs were suffering years of neglect and under- investment.
At home the crumbling West Pier and seafront arches, the neglected Regency Square where railings and other damage is not repaired, flowers are not provided and where the front of the square has been allowed to become a motorcycle park/ workshop.
At work the area between the Royal Festival Hall and County Hall had become a depressing slum and all our efforts over decades to get major funding for regeneration had come to nothing.
An icon charges over the hill
And then just in time for the turn of the century celebrations the Seventh Cavalry arrived. It was the London Eye and everything on the South Bank began to change.
The area achieved a massive concentration of media attention and focus and the Festival Hall was finally rewarded funding of over £80m.
The whole area is now completely transformed with thousands of visitors each day attracted by the London Eye and whose footfall is reflected in activity and ticket sales for all the South Bank venues.
The same team for the i360, Regency Square to prosper?
So this is why I feel so excited that the London Eye team has come to Brighton and that our new icon will similarly be a major catalyst for change and progress.
And this now is surely the time for residents to push for the major improvements to Regency Square for it is destined to become the most high profile of Brighton’s squares.
Just a few of the improvements we can push for
* get rid of the motorcycles and make this front area welcoming for residents and visitors alike.
* introduce some activity on the square with perhaps the return of tennis (voted by local residents as their choice for sport activity for the square.)
* improve lighting, colour (with lots more flowers) and security
* Investigate with the council the question of ownership and concessions so that residents can benefit from the extra visitors to our square. (The council wants to keep the locals happy and this is one way they could do so without any expense.)
An historic moment of great theatre
In the meantime it will be fascinating to watch the whole construction process of the Brighton Eye over these next two years.
Brighton’s Seventh Cavalry moment will surely be the beach landings of the gigantic tin cans which go to make up our doughnut’s pole. What a sight that will be.!