Bulldozers move closer to Brighton's Astoria

The Argus: The Astoria in the 80s The Astoria in the 80s

The last obstacle to the demolition of a Grade II listed cinema has been removed.

Despite a determined fight from conservation groups, Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee voted in favour of knocking down the Astoria in Gloucester Place, Brighton, in September.

Developers were granted approval to replace the 1930s art deco venue – which has been vacant since 1997 – with a media hub.

But before any work could start, the demolition of the historic building needed the sign-off from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles as it was on the listed building register.

The local authority has now confirmed Mr Pickles does not oppose the proposals to tear it down so, providing section 106 planning payments to the local authority can be agreed, work can begin in the coming months.

Last resort

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “Now that the government has had the opportunity to review the decision, we will be able to progress the Section 106 agreement and issue the formal decision for the Astoria development.

“We must stress that a decision to demolish a listed building is only ever taken as a last resort.

“The council explored other options with the applicants, but sadly it was not viable to restore the building which is in a poor state and has been empty since 1997.

“This was a view backed up by both English Heritage and the city’s Conservation Advisory Group.”

Owner and businessman Mike Holland was granted approval to build a six-storey office development with space for 170 jobs.

It will also include a café and meetings rooms for community use on the ground floor with a courtyard garden and roof terrace.

Developers said it would have required about £3.5 million to repair the former cinema, which was more recently used as a bingo hall.

Steve Peake, who put forward rival plans to convert the building into a community venture, said: “If it’s going to be sat vacant for a few years, then that’s time we could have used to draw up our plans to redevelop it.”

Squatters Peter Crowhurst, of the North Laine Community Association, said: “We approved of the development as we did not feel as if there was a viable alternative.

“While it remains empty there is always a danger of it being squatted and we would much rather a site be in use with good architecture.”

The Argus tried to contact Mr Holland yesterday but did not receive a response.

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Comments (8)

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6:26pm Tue 24 Jan 12

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

It IS sad, but it's been empty and rotting away for 14 years so this is really a mercy killing. Scheme after scheme has fallen through and we can't keep every unwanted, decaying building just because it's 'old'.
It IS sad, but it's been empty and rotting away for 14 years so this is really a mercy killing. Scheme after scheme has fallen through and we can't keep every unwanted, decaying building just because it's 'old'. Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit

6:43pm Tue 24 Jan 12

rolivan says...

Funny but I thought you were talking about the Labour Government at first.
Funny but I thought you were talking about the Labour Government at first. rolivan

7:14pm Tue 24 Jan 12

SicklySeagull says...

Its about time this building was demolished, it had become an eyesore and we can now look forward to a new development,the bulldozers can then be moved up the road and give the same treatment to the one time Co-Op store.
Its about time this building was demolished, it had become an eyesore and we can now look forward to a new development,the bulldozers can then be moved up the road and give the same treatment to the one time Co-Op store. SicklySeagull

7:36pm Tue 24 Jan 12

lorrie1 says...

Its about time they did something with the old night club on the corner,also another eyesore!
Its about time they did something with the old night club on the corner,also another eyesore! lorrie1

7:40pm Tue 24 Jan 12

Dingdong123 says...

Bulldoze the lot !!!!
Bulldoze the lot !!!! Dingdong123

8:25pm Tue 24 Jan 12

chilliman says...

Might as well go all the way to Cheapside apart, maybe, for the Hobgoblin. Nothing seems to last long there and the whole block looks a mess.

The trouble is, what to put up in the place of the old buildings that might be successful. That particular bit of the road need something unique to attract people rather than just more convenience stores, takeaways or charity shops.
Might as well go all the way to Cheapside apart, maybe, for the Hobgoblin. Nothing seems to last long there and the whole block looks a mess. The trouble is, what to put up in the place of the old buildings that might be successful. That particular bit of the road need something unique to attract people rather than just more convenience stores, takeaways or charity shops. chilliman

10:15am Wed 25 Jan 12

SteveHove says...

Yes think it has had its chance and it’s time to knock it down. Just doing that will improve the area, but can the fascia not be save and incorporated in to the new plans?
Yes think it has had its chance and it’s time to knock it down. Just doing that will improve the area, but can the fascia not be save and incorporated in to the new plans? SteveHove

3:03pm Wed 25 Jan 12

sussexswing says...

I find it very sad that this building is being demolished.
I chair a nonprofit community dance school and there is only one ballroom left in the nearby area- the King Alfred. The cost to hire the KA is £400 per evening which is out of most organisers price range. There are no Ballrooms left in Brighton. The 'community spaces' have very bad flooring you cant dance on.
Save a facility that is purpose built and use it.
I find it very sad that this building is being demolished. I chair a nonprofit community dance school and there is only one ballroom left in the nearby area- the King Alfred. The cost to hire the KA is £400 per evening which is out of most organisers price range. There are no Ballrooms left in Brighton. The 'community spaces' have very bad flooring you cant dance on. Save a facility that is purpose built and use it. sussexswing

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