Plans to demolish Astoria in Brighton

First published in News by

A grade II listed former cinema could be demolished and replaced by a business centre.

Developers have arranged a pre-planning meeting with Brighton and Hove City Council to discuss constructing a six storey building on the site of the Astoria in Brighton.

Agents Conran and Partners will aim to persuade planners the 1930s building must be demolished if the city centre plot, which has been vacant since 1997, is brought back into use.

Owner and businessman Mike Holland, who bought the site for £2.2 million, said: “It’s a very exciting plan that we are putting together and I believe it’s very exciting for the city that we’re hoping to do something to a site which has been derelict for many years.”

Plans will be presented to the local authority’s planning committee in October.

Should the Astoria be demolished? Tell us what you think below.

Comments (32)

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3:23pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Made In Sussex says...

Oh well I expect it will either mysteriously catch fire or the frontage will mysteriously collapse during any attempt to renovate it..thus rendering the site available for development...funny how these things happen..
Oh well I expect it will either mysteriously catch fire or the frontage will mysteriously collapse during any attempt to renovate it..thus rendering the site available for development...funny how these things happen.. Made In Sussex
  • Score: 0

3:23pm Thu 26 Aug 10

STFU Seagull Fans says...

YES! A bloody eyesore and need of regeneration.
YES! A bloody eyesore and need of regeneration. STFU Seagull Fans
  • Score: 0

3:38pm Thu 26 Aug 10

ultiali says...

Good. Has been an eyesore for years.
Good. Has been an eyesore for years. ultiali
  • Score: 0

3:39pm Thu 26 Aug 10

chrisjpostle says...

Well, it's not like it's doing anything constructive at the moment. Sad to lose part of the city's heritage but at least it's being replaced with something bringing money into the economy and not just being left to rot.
Well, it's not like it's doing anything constructive at the moment. Sad to lose part of the city's heritage but at least it's being replaced with something bringing money into the economy and not just being left to rot. chrisjpostle
  • Score: 0

3:41pm Thu 26 Aug 10

censored says...

Tough one. It's a lovely building, but there's just not much call for large, windowless blocks.
Tough one. It's a lovely building, but there's just not much call for large, windowless blocks. censored
  • Score: 0

3:43pm Thu 26 Aug 10

JonnySurtees says...

Not really a big 'commenter' on stories but I feel quite strongly on this one.. This building could be absolutlely beautiful and continue to play a big role in making Brighton what it is..

It used to look like this..

http://www.flickr.co
m/photos/12329611@N0
0/2406405678

Better than a business centre..
Not really a big 'commenter' on stories but I feel quite strongly on this one.. This building could be absolutlely beautiful and continue to play a big role in making Brighton what it is.. It used to look like this.. http://www.flickr.co m/photos/12329611@N0 0/2406405678 Better than a business centre.. JonnySurtees
  • Score: 0

3:48pm Thu 26 Aug 10

MantaRay1 says...

Yet another of Brighton's unique buildings destined to join the rubble. Look out St.Peter's Church somebody might decide we could have a lovely community centre at such a convenient setting...
Yet another of Brighton's unique buildings destined to join the rubble. Look out St.Peter's Church somebody might decide we could have a lovely community centre at such a convenient setting... MantaRay1
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Thu 26 Aug 10

freddo says...

Too many Art Deco buildings have already been demolished in this town because they're not Regency... and a few are still under threat... it could be a magnificent venue!
Too many Art Deco buildings have already been demolished in this town because they're not Regency... and a few are still under threat... it could be a magnificent venue! freddo
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Gaz the great says...

Yet another empty buisness centre in the middle of Brighton? Fond memories of its heyday with the 70mm presentations. Already both Brighton & Hove's heritage has sadly diminished, where will it end?
Yet another empty buisness centre in the middle of Brighton? Fond memories of its heyday with the 70mm presentations. Already both Brighton & Hove's heritage has sadly diminished, where will it end? Gaz the great
  • Score: 0

4:42pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Number Six says...

I certainly remember fondly the Astoria, not to mention the dancing school that my first wife made me go to. Lovely building.

I haven't had cause to go that way for some years but the last time I was there I seem to remember thinking that the whole stretch through to Preston Circus would benefit from the Osama Bin Laden school of decorating. Maybe they've improved the whole area since then
I certainly remember fondly the Astoria, not to mention the dancing school that my first wife made me go to. Lovely building. I haven't had cause to go that way for some years but the last time I was there I seem to remember thinking that the whole stretch through to Preston Circus would benefit from the Osama Bin Laden school of decorating. Maybe they've improved the whole area since then Number Six
  • Score: 0

4:43pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Sami Swoi1 says...

Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!!
Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!! Sami Swoi1
  • Score: 0

5:02pm Thu 26 Aug 10

mr_gee says...

If we could look forward to an inspiring piece of architecture and an interesting local hangout, then redevelopment would be great. However to knock down this building to build another cheap-looking, glass and steel eyesore is one more step step towards making Brighton just another identikit town. Most modern city-centre architecture is done on the cheap with no regard to the artistry that went into some of Brighton's period buildings. You only have to look at a town like Reading to see the effects of this approach. I'm surprised they don't turn it into another tesco express or starbucks while they're at it.
If we could look forward to an inspiring piece of architecture and an interesting local hangout, then redevelopment would be great. However to knock down this building to build another cheap-looking, glass and steel eyesore is one more step step towards making Brighton just another identikit town. Most modern city-centre architecture is done on the cheap with no regard to the artistry that went into some of Brighton's period buildings. You only have to look at a town like Reading to see the effects of this approach. I'm surprised they don't turn it into another tesco express or starbucks while they're at it. mr_gee
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Thu 26 Aug 10

N-dogg says...

Sami Swoi1.
If you did a little research you would find out that a group of potential buyers wanted to restore the Astoria to a cinema a few years back. They didnt go through with it as the venue fails as a financial model/cinema. While we can all be nostalgic (I for one am a big fan of the period architecture) the Astoria isnt a great example of its period. We need to be more progressive with architecture in the city and have the courage to move on. I'd love to see the Astoria replaced with something that is at the very least occupied! Remenber...offices generally = jobs??
Sami Swoi1. If you did a little research you would find out that a group of potential buyers wanted to restore the Astoria to a cinema a few years back. They didnt go through with it as the venue fails as a financial model/cinema. While we can all be nostalgic (I for one am a big fan of the period architecture) the Astoria isnt a great example of its period. We need to be more progressive with architecture in the city and have the courage to move on. I'd love to see the Astoria replaced with something that is at the very least occupied! Remenber...offices generally = jobs?? N-dogg
  • Score: 0

5:43pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Ballroom Blitz says...

I rather like Fred Pipes' murals which are along the front of the building at the moment.
I suspect though, that it will eventually get pulled down, and replaced by a Tescos, because we don't have anything like enough of them in Brighton. Or maybe NCP would like to put another car park there and charge £4 an hour to park.
I remember going to the flicks there in the 60s.
No it's probably not the greatest example of art deco design, but one still feels nostalgic about it if you are of a certain age. Ho hum.
I rather like Fred Pipes' murals which are along the front of the building at the moment. I suspect though, that it will eventually get pulled down, and replaced by a Tescos, because we don't have anything like enough of them in Brighton. Or maybe NCP would like to put another car park there and charge £4 an hour to park. I remember going to the flicks there in the 60s. No it's probably not the greatest example of art deco design, but one still feels nostalgic about it if you are of a certain age. Ho hum. Ballroom Blitz
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Lady Smith says...

'Anyone wishing to redevelop a site on which a listed building stands will need both listed building consent for the demolition and planning permission for the new building. Planning permission alone is not sufficient to authorise the demolition.'
'Anyone wishing to redevelop a site on which a listed building stands will need both listed building consent for the demolition and planning permission for the new building. Planning permission alone is not sufficient to authorise the demolition.' Lady Smith
  • Score: 0

6:26pm Thu 26 Aug 10

lorrie2 says...

I live directly opposite this building in grand parade and think knocking it down is the best idea ive heard in ages, it makes the whole area look like a dump!!!
I live directly opposite this building in grand parade and think knocking it down is the best idea ive heard in ages, it makes the whole area look like a dump!!! lorrie2
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

Well I want to see the plans first but I'm certainly not opposed to its demolition; indeed my initial reaction is to say 'good'. However we all know what will happen: even if the proposed development is breathtakingly beautiful the reactionary, conservative element in Brighton will still find fault with it and will still oppose it. And we'll end up arguing for decades (again) the same as we did for Jubilee Street, the locomotive works, etc whilst the city slowly decays around us.
Well I want to see the plans first but I'm certainly not opposed to its demolition; indeed my initial reaction is to say 'good'. However we all know what will happen: even if the proposed development is breathtakingly beautiful the reactionary, conservative element in Brighton will still find fault with it and will still oppose it. And we'll end up arguing for decades (again) the same as we did for Jubilee Street, the locomotive works, etc whilst the city slowly decays around us. Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit
  • Score: 0

10:49pm Thu 26 Aug 10

TheInsider says...

The town is full of empty offices, vacant business units and boarded up shops, particulalry along that stretch.
Perhaps Mr Holland could build a museum of Britain....any suggestions of what could be displayed in it.
I would put the Lib Dems in it as they wont be around after the next election.
The town is full of empty offices, vacant business units and boarded up shops, particulalry along that stretch. Perhaps Mr Holland could build a museum of Britain....any suggestions of what could be displayed in it. I would put the Lib Dems in it as they wont be around after the next election. TheInsider
  • Score: 0

11:16pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Metro Reader says...

Is something better than nothing?
Nothing is somethig but is something nothing?

Brighton has wonderful history but needs to move with the times. Good design is what we need here.
Is something better than nothing? Nothing is somethig but is something nothing? Brighton has wonderful history but needs to move with the times. Good design is what we need here. Metro Reader
  • Score: 0

11:16pm Thu 26 Aug 10

Metro Reader says...

Is something better than nothing?
Nothing is somethig but is something nothing?

Brighton has wonderful history but needs to move with the times. Good design is what we need here.
Is something better than nothing? Nothing is somethig but is something nothing? Brighton has wonderful history but needs to move with the times. Good design is what we need here. Metro Reader
  • Score: 0

11:20pm Thu 26 Aug 10

FC says...

You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......?

Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever.
You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......? Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever. FC
  • Score: 0

12:20am Fri 27 Aug 10

chipmunk77 says...

Sami Swoi1 wrote:
Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!!
What total and utter rubbish, doesn't support the arts?

This is the same Mike Holland that rescued Stanmer House from near dereliction, Newlands School, and also The British Engineerium Museum in Hove, as well as numerous charitable works - drug rehabilitation, childrens charities, Malcolm Sergeant Cancer Fund, Chestnut Tree Childrens Hospice, and turnover donated from The Engineerium donated to charities.

What exactly have you done which gives you the right to RUBBISH someone who's no doubt done 100,000 times more for good causes than you have?
[quote][p][bold]Sami Swoi1[/bold] wrote: Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!![/p][/quote]What total and utter rubbish, doesn't support the arts? This is the same Mike Holland that rescued Stanmer House from near dereliction, Newlands School, and also The British Engineerium Museum in Hove, as well as numerous charitable works - drug rehabilitation, childrens charities, Malcolm Sergeant Cancer Fund, Chestnut Tree Childrens Hospice, and turnover donated from The Engineerium donated to charities. What exactly have you done which gives you the right to RUBBISH someone who's no doubt done 100,000 times more for good causes than you have? chipmunk77
  • Score: 0

7:18am Fri 27 Aug 10

stan bailey says...

chipmunk77 wrote:
Sami Swoi1 wrote:
Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!!
What total and utter rubbish, doesn't support the arts?

This is the same Mike Holland that rescued Stanmer House from near dereliction, Newlands School, and also The British Engineerium Museum in Hove, as well as numerous charitable works - drug rehabilitation, childrens charities, Malcolm Sergeant Cancer Fund, Chestnut Tree Childrens Hospice, and turnover donated from The Engineerium donated to charities.

What exactly have you done which gives you the right to RUBBISH someone who's no doubt done 100,000 times more for good causes than you have?
Isn't Stanmer House being considered being turned into a hotel or sold off or something, I seem to remember reader somewhere?
[quote][p][bold]chipmunk77[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sami Swoi1[/bold] wrote: Why didn't Mike Holland develop it back to a theatre...ah yes another one who doesn't support the Arts. Business centre yes everybody needs one of those!!!![/p][/quote]What total and utter rubbish, doesn't support the arts? This is the same Mike Holland that rescued Stanmer House from near dereliction, Newlands School, and also The British Engineerium Museum in Hove, as well as numerous charitable works - drug rehabilitation, childrens charities, Malcolm Sergeant Cancer Fund, Chestnut Tree Childrens Hospice, and turnover donated from The Engineerium donated to charities. What exactly have you done which gives you the right to RUBBISH someone who's no doubt done 100,000 times more for good causes than you have?[/p][/quote]Isn't Stanmer House being considered being turned into a hotel or sold off or something, I seem to remember reader somewhere? stan bailey
  • Score: 0

8:27am Fri 27 Aug 10

s_james says...

No objection to demolishing it as there will be little chance of it reopening as an entertainment venue - there are already a sufficent number of these to meet demand, especially with the Hippodrome being restored, so it would unlikely to be viable. The important thing is ensuring that a new building on such a highly visible site is built to the highest architectural and design standards
No objection to demolishing it as there will be little chance of it reopening as an entertainment venue - there are already a sufficent number of these to meet demand, especially with the Hippodrome being restored, so it would unlikely to be viable. The important thing is ensuring that a new building on such a highly visible site is built to the highest architectural and design standards s_james
  • Score: 0

8:42am Fri 27 Aug 10

iceman00 says...

This place is horrible and has NO architectural merit.

Plus Brighton needs grade A office space.

Demolish it and build a business centre and don't listen to the reactionaries!
This place is horrible and has NO architectural merit. Plus Brighton needs grade A office space. Demolish it and build a business centre and don't listen to the reactionaries! iceman00
  • Score: 0

8:43am Fri 27 Aug 10

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

FC wrote:
You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......?

Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever.
I think there's a bit of wishful thinking going on here. You say there are 'no good venues' in Brighton, in that case why hasn't the Astoria been turned into one in the twenty or whatever years that it's stood empty? I agree it could have been a good venue - but no one wanted to take on the renovation project as there is obviously no demand for a venue that size. Don't forget they tried a similar thing ten years ago with the old cinema near the Clock Tower (since demolished and the once-derelict site now turned into a thriving sports shop).
[quote][p][bold]FC[/bold] wrote: You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......? Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever.[/p][/quote]I think there's a bit of wishful thinking going on here. You say there are 'no good venues' in Brighton, in that case why hasn't the Astoria been turned into one in the twenty or whatever years that it's stood empty? I agree it could have been a good venue - but no one wanted to take on the renovation project as there is obviously no demand for a venue that size. Don't forget they tried a similar thing ten years ago with the old cinema near the Clock Tower (since demolished and the once-derelict site now turned into a thriving sports shop). Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit
  • Score: 0

3:52pm Fri 27 Aug 10

FC says...

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit wrote:
FC wrote:
You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......?

Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever.
I think there's a bit of wishful thinking going on here. You say there are 'no good venues' in Brighton, in that case why hasn't the Astoria been turned into one in the twenty or whatever years that it's stood empty? I agree it could have been a good venue - but no one wanted to take on the renovation project as there is obviously no demand for a venue that size. Don't forget they tried a similar thing ten years ago with the old cinema near the Clock Tower (since demolished and the once-derelict site now turned into a thriving sports shop).
"thriving" sports shop?

read: chav breeding ground.
[quote][p][bold]Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]FC[/bold] wrote: You know how there's no good venues in Brighton any more......? Maybe this could have been one... But now. A "much-needed" business centre. That will sit empty. Forever.[/p][/quote]I think there's a bit of wishful thinking going on here. You say there are 'no good venues' in Brighton, in that case why hasn't the Astoria been turned into one in the twenty or whatever years that it's stood empty? I agree it could have been a good venue - but no one wanted to take on the renovation project as there is obviously no demand for a venue that size. Don't forget they tried a similar thing ten years ago with the old cinema near the Clock Tower (since demolished and the once-derelict site now turned into a thriving sports shop).[/p][/quote]"thriving" sports shop? read: chav breeding ground. FC
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Fri 27 Aug 10

jmbrighton says...

The plan sounds dreadful. What exactly is the Business Centre, other than an alternative name for an office complex?

There are already a few similar establishments around Brighton that serve this need quite well.

Although the exterior of the former Astoria might not be that eye catching the interior was much more interesting. Surely a venue of this nature could be put to better use with some proper vision and imagination.

Brighton has already lost the former Essoldo and is likely to lose both the Astoria and Hippodrome, due to lack of vision.
The plan sounds dreadful. What exactly is the Business Centre, other than an alternative name for an office complex? There are already a few similar establishments around Brighton that serve this need quite well. Although the exterior of the former Astoria might not be that eye catching the interior was much more interesting. Surely a venue of this nature could be put to better use with some proper vision and imagination. Brighton has already lost the former Essoldo and is likely to lose both the Astoria and Hippodrome, due to lack of vision. jmbrighton
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Sat 28 Aug 10

Lucky7 says...

...But vision alone cannot turn this "window-less" building into anything of benefit. I once worked on a site to turn an art-deco cinema into something. Ended up being a compromised over priced apartment block with pastiche overtones and no parking! Every building has a life-span. The trick here is to secure high quality design and materials as if it attracts interest from the start, it's more likely to have some sustainability. And, actually, Brighton really does need high quality offices/workspaces, even now in our double dip recession.
...But vision alone cannot turn this "window-less" building into anything of benefit. I once worked on a site to turn an art-deco cinema into something. Ended up being a compromised over priced apartment block with pastiche overtones and no parking! Every building has a life-span. The trick here is to secure high quality design and materials as if it attracts interest from the start, it's more likely to have some sustainability. And, actually, Brighton really does need high quality offices/workspaces, even now in our double dip recession. Lucky7
  • Score: 0

11:56am Sun 29 Aug 10

BriCo says...

Sad to see it go, but big cinemas have had their day. Ironic though that of all the impressive cinemas we once had in Brighton the only one left is the uglyest building in Brighton if not Britain.
Sad to see it go, but big cinemas have had their day. Ironic though that of all the impressive cinemas we once had in Brighton the only one left is the uglyest building in Brighton if not Britain. BriCo
  • Score: 0

9:22am Tue 31 Aug 10

tyjeffries@hotmail.com says...

It is unacceptable to just forget about the grade 2 listing. It is an important building and with the right motivation from the council could be reinvented. It could be divided up in to a multiplex (hopefully with more character than the awful Odeon on the seafront). Business Centres should be relegated to the outskirts. Do we really need more traffic coming into this already highly conjested part of town? This should be a venue for locals to WALK to. Surely there are enough empty office buildings around Brighton to provide business space. What about the Brighton Centre when it is rebuilt. We need to keep the character of this central pathway through our city. Another bland corporate building like the eyesore of the ugly out of place modern yellow brick building already next to The Astoria will just further degrade the architectural integrity of out city.
It is unacceptable to just forget about the grade 2 listing. It is an important building and with the right motivation from the council could be reinvented. It could be divided up in to a multiplex (hopefully with more character than the awful Odeon on the seafront). Business Centres should be relegated to the outskirts. Do we really need more traffic coming into this already highly conjested part of town? This should be a venue for locals to WALK to. Surely there are enough empty office buildings around Brighton to provide business space. What about the Brighton Centre when it is rebuilt. We need to keep the character of this central pathway through our city. Another bland corporate building like the eyesore of the ugly out of place modern yellow brick building already next to The Astoria will just further degrade the architectural integrity of out city. tyjeffries@hotmail.com
  • Score: 0

11:36am Tue 31 Aug 10

freddo says...

Just started up a Save Brighton's Astoria facebook group - please join!

http://www.facebook.
com/group.php?gid=15
0723424946681
Just started up a Save Brighton's Astoria facebook group - please join! http://www.facebook. com/group.php?gid=15 0723424946681 freddo
  • Score: 0

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