The Sylvan Hall Estate on Round Hill was the site of four large houses with attendant staff cottages. In 1850 the Colbatch-Clark family bought the land and developed it, as Round Hill Park, which also included the semi-detached villas that today are numbers 68 to 80 on the east side of Ditchling Road.

 

Our estate takes its name from Sylvan Hall (pictured above), which was on the site now occupied by Holt Lodge and The Pines, whilst the other houses were Hill Lodge, Woodfield Lodge and Rose Hill Cottage. At the beginning of the 20th century Sylvan Hall was home to Henry John Infield who owned the Southern Publishing Company, proprietors of the Sussex Daily News and The Argus.

 

In the early 1930s the land was sold to the Diocese of Chichester who used the big houses as dormitories for their students from the college (the large building on Viaduct Road). By 1938 the church wished to close the college and sell the buildings that they owned but war intervened and the college was taken over by the army as the Pay Office for the Royal Engineers and the big houses were also rented out to the army.

 

After the war Brighton Corporation compulsorily purchased the land and buildings for £16,500 and in 1948 started to build the estate as it now appears. As there was an urgent need for housing the council immediately converted Sylvan Hall itself into nine flats, whilst starting building the rest of the estate, starting with Elm Lodge. When all the original flats had been completed Sylvan Hall itself was demolished and Holt Lodge and The Pines built on the site and at the same time The Laurels was built on the site of 31, 32 & 33 Wakefield Road which had been cottages for the gardeners of Woodfield Lodge. The estate as we see it today was completed in 1976.

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The AGM of the Residents’ Association was held on Friday 28th July at the MacLaren Pavilion, there were quite a lot of apologies for absence as the Friday thing did not suit many of our members. Sadly we had to accept a Friday as the Pavilion was booked for the Wednesday’s throughout the month. We will endeavour to get a booking for next year in place now.

In addition to the disappointing turnout there was sadness that our Treasurer, Pam Williams, 90 years young just six days before the meeting, could not attend as the driver of the coach forgot to bring the promised wheel chair. There was also regret that our long standing Secretary, Linda Shaw has sold her flat and moved away. Although technically, as she is no longer a resident, Linda is not strictly a member we have asked that she stay on pro-tem and help bring in a new Secretary and thankfully she has agreed. The election of officers for the committee was conducted by Rebecca Mann, the Resident Involvement Officer from B&HCC and the following were returned as your committee: Chairman and Housing Committee Area Panel Representative, Barry Hughes, Treasurer, Pam Williams, Secretary, Linda Shaw pending the availability of Aurelie Elder in September. Aurelie was elected to the committee along with Jean and Michael Bairstow (Michael was also elected DeputyArea Panel Rep.),Kate Fisher, Sally Saunders and new members Leila Abouass and Adnan Abouass.

The audited accounts of the association were presented and approved. These show total receipts for the year ended 5th July of £4,059.83 and payments of £3,508.88 with a balance of funds of £1,100.03. We have ring-fenced £940.00 of this balance as it is our Sussex Community Grant for Plumpton College gardening workshops mentoring new gardeners on the estate. We continue to apply for grants and other funds and our balance will be shortly added to by our grant to cover administrative expenses, so our current asset base is £1,447.74 but our free reserves are only £160.03. We have outstanding grant applications of £3,863 as of 28th July and we continue to apply for supporting grants as the opportunities arise but of course success is not guaranteed.

The meeting went on to discuss the programme of major works, possibly totalling £4.3 million, that B&HCC has indicated are planned for Sylvan Hall. Given that impact that such an investment might have on leaseholders it was disappointing (even given the inconvenience of a Friday) to see only five leaseholders (4 if you exclude Linda) at the meeting. The committee is closely monitoring the situation regarding this plan and is involved in the appointment of independent Quantity Surveyors to study and challenge the proposals to ensure that the work can be justified on the basis of need as well as cost.

Barry Hughes, jbarry.hughes@ntlworld.com

 

 

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