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Legal move to save landmark

A landmark legal ruling has paved the way for Brighton and Hove's biggest eyesore to be restored to its former glory.

Residents of Embassy Court in King's Road, Brighton, have been at loggerheads with property investors over who should pay for the upkeep of the art deco flats for more than a decade.

A judge at Brighton County Court yesterday ordered Portvale Holdings, which owns nine of the 72 flats in the skyscraper, to hand over more than £78,000.

The ruling clears the way for the homeowners, who have formed their own company called Bluestorm, to begin carrying out essential repairs to prevent the block crumbling further into disrepair.

The full restoration of the flats, once one of the most sought-after addresses in Brighton, is estimated at £4.5 million.

Residents, who have been forced to live among broken windows and rotting door frames, were overjoyed with the ruling.

Chairwoman of Bluestorm and Embassy Court resident Hilary Imbimbo said: "I feel extremely relieved. We have a long way to go but we can now begin moving forward."

Judge Michael Kennedy QC dismissed a claim by Portvale Holdings, which alleged Bluestorm's failure to carry out major repairs had cost it money in lost rent.

Portvale Holdings' solicitor Chris Camillin, who personally owns 15 of the flats, also asked the court to order Bluestorm to pay for repairs to the building. His claim was also dismissed.

The ruling comes after a two-week hearing in November last year.

The court heard the wrangle began in the Seventies when the flats were taken over by absentee leaseholders and a succession of freeholders.

A company owned by David Marcel, called Portvale, owned the block until 1997, when the firm went into liquidation after being ordered to pay £1.5 million for repairs.

After another court row, the freehold was taken over by the residents' association, which later formed Bluestorm.

Mr Marcel is now director of Portvale Holdings.

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