A businessman has unveiled plans to demolish a historic cinema to make way for a new media development.
Mike Holland is arguing for the demolition of the Grade II* listed Astoria in Gloucester Place, Brighton.
Agent Conran and Partners has submitted a planning application to Brighton and Hove City Council on his behalf detailing how the cinema
would be replaced by a sixstorey business centre run by H3o Media Ltd. While critics have questioned if it is right to destroy this historical venue, Mr Holland, who bought it for £2.2 million in
2007, said: “It has had its day.”
A heritage report commissioned by H3o Media said the 1930s-built Astoria is not be as historically significant as people think. It suggests the Government’s decision to give the building protective
listed status in 2000 was “questionable” because it wasn’t the only one of its kind on the south coast.
It also highlights the fact that when the cinema was converted into the Coral Social Club in 1977 many of the original features including the floor were removed and a false ceiling was installed.
Surveyor Montagu Evans, which carried out the assessment, added: “The most severe impact on the original decorative scheme has come about in the past 14 years when the building has been vacant and
deteriorating with the ingress of water from a leaking roof causing significant deterioration of the wafer-thin plaster work.”
Mr Holland, who owns property around the city, said: “I am a great historian, a great lover of period architecture but the Astoria has had its day. The building is beyond repair. It was thrown up
in five months and wasn’t a prime example of its day.”
He said the new media hub would have a “creative café culture”.
Mr Holland said: “We are looking to get on with it as soon as possible. I think it will be a kick start for London Road. It needs someone to get istarted and there is nothing like this in Brighton
at the moment.”
Ward councillor Lizzie Deane said: “The Astoria is a unique piece of cultural heritage, much loved by local people.
“Any plans to knock it down would be very unpopular and its history would be irrevocably lost.
Its future ultimately rests with the council’s planning committee.”
English Heritage is to discuss the proposals with the developers.
The council’s planning committee is due to decide on March 15.
What do you think should happen to the Astoria?