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Congratulations to  people in Beachlands who are planning a residents association. The foundation of a sustainable residents association for Beachlands would be a seminal moment in the history of Pevensey Bay—Bay Life, 18 August 2019

A residents association for Beachlands plans to launch in the coming weeks.

The formation of the residents association follows the launch of an association around the Timberlaine Road area of Pevensey Bay in August 2018.

In the case of the Timberlaine Road association the foundation came as a result of local concerns about the overdevelopment of the holiday home site that adjoins the road.

The association which held their first Annual General Meeting on 1 August noted that they had fulfilled some of their objectives in the first year, which included “communication between the residents with the goal of enhancing further the shared voice of people that live in the road and the environs, and in that process, to maintain and develop their shared sense of wellbeing”.

In the minutes of the AGM, the association explains “the application by the caravan site to place more lodges on the ground to the rear of the houses in Timberlaine Road was fought robustly by the association”. They add “the resulting decision by Wealden Council to refuse permission was welcomed by all”.

Residents associations as legal entities can become useful tools in comunities because they are built from the ground up.

In relation to planning applications, questions over development and the wellbeing of areas that they serve, they can be influential in terms of the perception of these areas, their and their profile.

The prospect of a sustainable residents association being founded in the Beachlands Estate is of potential long term value to both the Beachlands Estate and Pevensey Bay.

A book about the history of the estate has reached the War years and the author has worked with Nottingham City Council and their archives to uncover the scale of ambition in relation to what was planned for the estate.

The original sketch of the first fifty houses was the work of one of the pre-eminent provincial architects of the twentieth century, T.Cecil Howitt. He was the city architect for Nottingham.

The dual carriageway that we see as the gateway to the estate with Marine Avenue, was to have been the gateway to what was described in 1932 as ‘a modern town in its entirety’.

This also explains the grand naming of the roads at the time, the utilisation of  much green space (including the central green space in Marine Avenue) and the size of the extensive gardens that came with the first fifty houses.

T.Cecil Howitt visited Sweden, in particular Stockholm Town Hall, in 1926.

Inspiration for the Beachlands Estate came partly from this visit.

When he was commissioned to sketch the first fifty houses in Beachlands, he based his ideas on this visit and his pioneering work in Nottingham, which dates back to 1912, and his ‘vision’ for public space with areas with housing that should include ample green space.

In Nottingham, T.Cecil Howitt is regarded as the modern founding fathers of the city, He came to Pevensey Bay following his commission to design the ‘Council House’ in Nottingham city centre (1929), opened by the The Prince of Wales.

After his commission in Pevensey Bay, he went on to design a number of the classic art deco cinemas of the twentieth century, including the Odeon Theatre in Western-Super-Mare, opened on 25 May 1935.

The cinema was listed in 1986 and is regarded as one of the finest examples of an art deco cinema in the country.

In Pevensey Bay, ‘Dukelands’ was also planned in the 1960s, echoing the work of T.Cecil Howitt to the west of Beachlands.

What was planned had the same kinds of grand naming of roads. One road was to have been named ‘Ocean Boulevard West’. A cul- de-sac was to have been named ‘Howitt Close’ in his honour and a cinema in ‘Dukelands’ was also planned.

A book titled The Birth of the Beachlands Estate: T.Cecil Howitt and his Unfinished Symphony to the Sea tells the story of the plan for the Beachlands estate from 1931 to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The properties that dot Coast Road in a single line, on the way to the Beachlands estate, look like a string of pearls. They have come to be called ‘the Oyster Houses’. They look like wide circular airplane cockpits, as if they are flight decks. This is related to their construction. The same skills and techniques that made cockpits were re-assigned to make the houses.

They are the work of Boulton and Paul, ironmongers from Norwich who can trace their history back to 1790s.

In 1931 they were constructing small aircraft, They were also responsible for the steel structure for the R101 airship that went down in flames in 1931.

The demand for airship construction decreased significantly. At that point they had to diversify. One of the areas that they went into to survive, was the construction of the ‘circular sun houses’ that we see, which are a part of Beachlands.

They were ordered from a catalogue and arrived in kit form to be constructed on site.

A course about the birth of the Beachlands Estate in Pevensey Bay was delivered to residents of the estate in 2017.

Tutor, Simon Montgomery, who is also the author of the book about the birth of Beachlands, said at the time, “the research undertaken by the students, their enthusiasm and interest in searching out their deeds to add to the story of Beachlands, was brilliant.

He added, “some cracking good writers began to emerge as well, the students wrote about their own himes and also they wrote about what Beachlands meant to them.

“An exciting moment was when the original promotion material from 1932, written on a typewriter by architects and builders Martin and Saunders was revealed, as if the words were seeing the light of day for the first time in eighty years.

“One of the students explained how much discovering some of the history of the estate meant to him with his writing.

Simon added,”the students saw that the estate was to have been ‘a modern town in its entirety’, and that the commission to sketch the first fifty house was undertaken by T.Cecil Howitt, one of the pre-eminent pioneering provincial architects of the twentieth century.”.

The original offices of architects and builders, to Beachlands, Martin and Saunders is still here in Pevensey Bay, pointing like a single storey redundant art deco obelisk at 45 degrees to Beachlands.

Anderida House is a part of the story of Beachlands.

The application to turn the site into flats ignored, entirely, the history of the building.

Turning the site into flats was described by Bay Life at the time as ‘poverty of thinking’ by the applicants. They failed even once to mention that the building had a relationship with the birth of the Beachlands estate. The application was abject.

A valiant effort was made by local resident Shirley MacKinnon to get the building listed.

Historic England in response to her application noted some of the historic elements of the building in relation to the story of the birth of the Beachlands estate.

Every year hundreds of people with an interest in the history of the art deco movement and town planning in the 1930s, come from all over the country to visit Beachlands and take pictures.

The story of Beachlands is a vital element in the story of 1930s art deco town planning in this country.

The seaside context for this townscape places the work by T. Cecil Howitt in a unique position. He went on to design buildings of historic note across the country right up to the 1960s, but never again did he undertake such a commission in a seaside location.

This was the only such project he undertook, in an extensive range of work, over more than sixty years.

As well as being an estate rich in heritage, Beachalnds is a social asset that has value to Pevensey Bay beyond the plan to found a residents association.

A residents association would be custodian to a unique history.

Josephine Lacey, with husband, Ken, attended the course in 2017 that uncovered some new aspects of the history of the Beachlands estate.

They live in an oyster house and have done research on the history of their own property and the history of ironmongers, Boulton and Paul in Norwich, who constructed the properties.

The idea for the course about the birth of Beachlands came from a conversation with Ken Lacey.

He discovered the typed text promotion material written by Martin and Saunders in 1932 that outlined the plan for ‘a modern town in its entirety’ in an appendix to a book about modernist architecture in this country.

Written by Finn Jensen in 2012, in the introduction to his book. Modernist semis and terraces in England, he gives a brief account of the Beachlands estate suggesting “there are certain to be many more interesting Modernist houses and estates out there waiting discovery and hopefully, architectural historians will eventually record these for the benefit of the wider public”.

Finn Jenson came to Pevensey Bay to research his book.

The Beachlands residents association, constituted as a legal entity, could become a tool to support the wellbeing of the estate in a number of ways.

The association could also become an advocate for the estate in a number of ways.

The association would represent an area of the village that is not just important in the context of the history of Pevensey Bay, but in the context of the history of art deco seaside architecture in this country.

If the people founding the body wanted to protect the history of Beachlands, they could nominate Anderida House as an asset of community value.

If the association was to establish the organisation as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), with trustees, this might open the door to the possibility of applications to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A grant to celebrate the work of T.Cecil Howitt as the new gateway to the estate, at the front of Marine Avenue, is one possible course of action for the new residents association to take.

An application to nominate Anderida House as an asset of community value could be made.

The possibility of Anderida House becoming the site to tell the story of T.Cecil Howitt and the birth of the Beachlands estate would be tangible.

As a community project, the building could become of interest to both residents and visitors.

Perhaps,combined with an art gallery and exhibition space, to include other elements of the story of Pevensey Bay, such as the history of the Goon Show and the relationship with Pevensey Bay, the space could become some kind of small visitor destination building.

Could the money be raised to support such a project?

Standing tall in the history of Pevensey Bay, close to Anderida House, is the Bay Hotel.

Any suggestion a year ago that up to £1million was about to be spent on the hotel, to restore the building to the full glory that would have been seen in 1898, would have been been dismissed as being fanciful.

The £1million is now being spent as part of a long term investment plan by the new company that owns the hotel.

The project management team has emphasised to Bay Life that they are investing not just in the hotel long term, but in Pevensey Bay long term.

The foundation of a residents association for the Beachlands estate really is of potential long term value to both the Beachlands Estate and to Pevensey Bay.

Residents associations that work really do become useful tools in communities.

A new gateway to the estate, celebrating the work of T.Cecil Howitt, could be considered. The green space in the middle of dual carriageways could be restored to the original splendour.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund might welcome an application related to these possibilities.

The foundation of a residents association for Beachlands would be a seminal moment in the history of Pevensey Bay.

In the case of Beachlands, we are looking at a historic asset that has all kinds of potential value to both the residents of the estate and to Pevensey Bay.