8:43am Tuesday 30th April 2013
By John Keenan, business editor
The long and winding story of the non- development of Anston House, universally known (perhaps unfairly) as Brighton’s ugliest building, stands as a metaphor for planning in the city.
You have a building which has ceased to be fit for purpose. You have an owner whose aims and claims for the land are, shall we say, opaque. You have an overly ambitious design and a planning team in the city hall which veers between starry eyed enthusiasm for the latest vogue and sudden capitulation to the demagogic demands of the elected councillors.
It is not a recipe for sane, measured and successful approach to city planning.
It has to be said that, unlovely as it is, Anston House should not have been replaced by the scheme on the drawing board. Like Frank Gehry’s eye-popping design for the King Alfred Centre, it was the sort of scheme which thrills the eye in New York or Los Angeles but is entirely unsuitable when transplanted to a seaside city which has a similar size to a suburb of a northern metropolis.
It is time our planning officials put the collective foot down. The next wild-eyed designer to enter the Town Hall with champagne aspirations on a beer budget should be swiftly shown the route to Hove Station.
There is no doubt that Anston House will one day get the design it deserves. It will happen when the architects and planners get real.
That sense of reality cannot come soon enough.
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