Tree-lined boulevard at St John’s Road, Eastbourne with heritage lamp post, pillar box and brick paving

Peers of the public realm


Over the last few years there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of the ‘public realm’ but what is it? English Heritage has recently stated that the public realm relates to all parts of the built environment where the public has free access- This therefore embraces all the external public spaces of our highways and byways, villages, towns and cities.

In Sussex we have outstanding streetscapes which need to be appreciated, preserved and enhanced. The ‘peers’ of our public realm consist of the everyday objects we often take for granted such as trees, heritage lamp posts, our unique signposts (timber with a cast iron cap and metal letters), cast iron mile posts (indicating the distance to Bow Church in London), brick paving (very much a Sussex tradition), water hydrants, market crosses, pillar boxes and locally cast street furniture (railings, gutter grids, coal hole covers and crossovers). In Eastbourne, for example, the College and Meads Conservation Areas (which were laid out to a plan of 1872 by the 7th Duke of Devonshire’s architect Henry Curey) are of national importance, not so much due to their buildings, but because of their broad tree-lined boulevards with grass verges, brick pavements and a unique collection of locally designed and cast iron lamp posts and other street furniture.