On 11 October 1938 Brighton Corporation and the builders Braybon Limited signed an agreement to develop a site of about 168 acres in the Withdean area to the north of Brighton. The estate was ‘known or intended to be known’ as the Withdean Estate West.
Braybons the builders owned the land
Braybons owned most of the land, having legal charges dated 19 June 1937 and 13 November 1937 to acquire portions of the land from George Francis Donne, a partner in the law firm of Nye and Donne of 58 Ship Street, Brighton. A previous agreement made between Varndean Estates Ltd and Elizabeth Caroline Colebrooke (and?) Gordon Curwen on 25 October 1935 for the remainder of the land was also assigned to Braybons.
The proposed estate
It was proposed to build houses and bungalows with a density between 8.5 and 9.6 homes per acre with two business areas. The layout of the proposed estate, drawn up in May 1938, was attached to the agreement and is shown on this page. Unfortunately, the copy of the plan from which this scan was made had been repaired with sticky tape at some time in the past and not very accurately aligned. This had then been photocopied again, resulting in its poor quality. An attempt has been made to clean it up to make it easier to read. Nonetheless, anyone who knows the area can compare the proposal with the way the estate was actually built.
Main development in the 1950s and 1960s
The 1930s had been a time of development in the part of Withdean west of London Road. Valley Drive, the earliest part of which was previously known as Reynolds Avenue, had been developed as far as Valley Close. Colebrook Road, the name of which came from the land-owning family (see above), and Hillbrow Road had already been developed patchily with mostly detached houses by the late 1920s, as had Croft Road. Withdean Stadium had opened in 1936 with the country’s best tennis facilities apart from Wimbledon. But, as it turned out, with war looming, 1938 was not the best time to propose new housing estates and, in fact, most of the building of the Westdene Estate did not take place until the 1950s and 1960s.