Quirky tower plans anger campaigners

The Argus: The proposed Sirus Tower would house about 25 flats The proposed Sirus Tower would house about 25 flats

Campaigners fear the thumbs-up given to Frank Gehry's controversial towers will lead to a glut of increasingly bizarre proposals for the seafront.

They spoke out as The Argus uncovered details of the latest oddball proposal for Hove: A tower block shaped like a stack of toppling plates.

Worried residents last night likened the proposals for Sirus Tower, which would replace derelict Medina House, to a "ciabatta bread" or a set from the film Aliens.

The tower, standing 100ft tall (35m), would be up to 12 storeys and house about 25 flats.

Sirus Taghan, owner of Medina House, hopes to apply for planning approval before Christmas.

Valerie Paynter, founder of the Save Hove campaign, said the approval of the Frank Gehry development on the King Alfred site a few metres along the road had sent the wrong signal to developers.

She said: "There's this fashion among local authorities for landmark architecture which can be used to market the town. Unfortunately, architects and developers are seeing a waterfall of money for buildings - the wilder, the better.

"It's obscene, like inviting yobs to rampage around. We will end up with an amorphous mish-mash of buildings which in no way fit into their surroundings."

Neighbours of Medina House in King's Esplanade, which was built as a Turkish baths and used during the war as a hospital, were unimpressed by the proposals.

Social researcher Perpetua Kirby said: "The original planners were aware of light ... but this shows no such consideration.

"It could look good somewhere else but in this position it would be really invasive in terms of light.

"It's such a shame because we already have a really nice building which, although it's been allowed to become rundown, could be converted into some amazing flats."

Previous plans for the building, bought by Mr Taghan in the Nineties, have caused controversy.

He first applied for an 18-storey tower block in 2002 but withdrew the plans when campaigners complained about its height.

He planned a smaller 15 or 16-storey tower but never put in a formal planning application.

Mr Taghan, of property development company Globe Homes, said: "We've taken into consideration issues like lighting and shading, as well as the concerns of local people.

"Things look like they are moving with the King Alfred development and hopefully we will be there too."

Medina House has suffered from fly-tipping, crumbling walls and peeling paintwork and the city council told Mr Taghan it had to be cleaned up and made secure.

Squatters have been living in the building for the past seven years. An eviction order has been served but yesterday they were still there.

Lou Stack, of Save Hove, said: "The site is in a state and we think it would be nice if it was restored to its former glory."

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