The Keep given green light by planners

A MAJOR step forward in the plan for a new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton and Hove was achieved last month when planning permission was given for ‘The Keep’.

The Keep, which will be built at Woollards Field near Falmer at a cost of £19m, received the green light at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee.

The partners involved in the project – East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and the University of Sussex – can now plan to start construction work on site in the summer.

It is hoped that the new archive centre will open to the public in 2013.

Cllr Bob Tidy, Lead Member for Community Services at the county council, said: “The Keep will be the new home for more than 900 years of historical resources and collections of local, national and international importance.

“It will house more than six miles of archives including written records, maps, plans, films, photographs, prints and drawings.

“Councils up and down the country are looking at all their planned new schemes and only putting forward those they believe are their key priorities and for which funding has already been planned.

“The Keep falls into that category and I’m delighted that it has been given the go-ahead.”

The Keep is also on course to be the most sustainable archive building of its type in the country. It will be a BREEAM Excellent Building (BREEAM is a national sustainability assessment measure) and the new development will include photo-voltaics for electricity generation, solar water heating, green roofs, a biomass boiler for heating, thermal insulation and rainwater harvesting.

Cllr Lynda Hyde, Chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee, said: “Along with the community stadium and new American Express headquarters this is another major development happening in the city during these difficult financial times.

“This will give the city a state-of-the-art facility, which will be of huge value to the general public and academics alike, and which will represent the next generation of archive buildings.

“It’s an example of how working in partnership can provide the most cost effective solution and a much-improved experience for its many users.”

The current archive and record office at The Maltings in Lewes has been in operation since 1949 and the county council accepts it is not fit for purpose.

In 2006, the National Archives inspection made it clear that the council needed to address this issue and make progress towards a new record office within five years.