Rottingdean Heritage

Extracts from the Urban Character Study of Rottingdean prepared by B&HCC

Rottingdean is a village that has developed incrementally into a detached suburb of Brighton as road connections have improved. The area around the High Street and Green retains its village atmosphere and is a designated conservation area.

Rottingdean High Street mostly developed in the early nineteenth century as the village started to expand as a quiet resort and regular stop on coaching routes. However it was with the opening of Marine Drive (the A259) in 1933 and the advent of the motor car that saw the development of Rottingdean as a popular and affordable place to live. This has resulted in suburban development along the Falmer Road at the foot of the valley and development along the cliff tops. The car has put pressure on the historic core of the village. Routes that were not built to accommodate the motor car are now congested.

Rottingdean neighbourhood may be classified as a Downland settlement with an historic village core. It is an expanded village settlement with a strong historic identity, distinctive vernacular architecture and a traditional village high street.

Rottingdean is characterised by low density, low rise development running along the valley floor creating an intimate human scale. As the village has grown over time, the organic layout of historic core becomes more formalised into a Victorian and suburban grid pattern with a low gross density of 10 dwellings per hectare. Compared to neighbouring rural suburbs, the population is comparatively low. The high street supports a range of shops and services and a number of schools indicating that the village is a district centre for the surrounding neighbourhoods as well as attracting tourists to the area.

Extracts from the Rottingdean Conservation Area Report

Amongst its heritage assets, the area contains 54 listed buildings, 8 locally listed buildings and an archaeological notification area. 3 further archaeological notification areas, 2 scheduled ancient monuments and a listed building (Rottingdean Windmill) are set in its immediate surroundings. Much of the open downland surrounding the village was designated as part of the South Downs National Park in April 2010

The character of Rottingdean is closely linked to its landscape setting. The village is viewed in the context of open downland, which acts as an immediate reminder of the village’s rural location and the agricultural antecedents of the area. In particular, the steeply-sloped Beacon Hill to the west of the area forms an important backdrop to views in the village. Rottingdean Windmill – set upon its skyline – forms a striking landmark from within the village and when approaching Rottingdean from Brighton, and is closely associated with the village’s identity.

Other green spaces surround the conservation area: the playing field on Steyning Road/Newlands Road forms a strong edge to the village, distinguishing it clearly from surrounding suburban development when viewed from the surrounding hilltops. The allotments and spaces that flank Beacon Hill are historic rear garden and green spaces that similarly form the edge of the historic village. These spaces and the downland form a ‘green buffer’ that emphasises the historic village’s originally wholly rural setting and maintain a visual break from encroaching suburban growth.

St Aubyns School campus includes a listed building and curtilage and is of special architectural interest. The playing field is mentioned as a significant feature in the character of the village.

Heritage, Biodiversity and village character issues

These issues are in the main covered in the planning brief and Rottingdean Conservation Area Character Statement prepared by B&HCC.

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