They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But for most, the 80s monolith that is Anston House, standing graffiti-strewn and derelict, is simply downright hideous.

Its past is a string of failed developments and rebuffed plans.

Abandoned since 1987, art students from Brighton College attempted to brighten it up by covering the broken windows with self-portraits in 2003.

But it was still voted the city’s ugliest building by Argus readers.


Three years later, incoming mayor David Smith called for the city council to force a compulsory purchase of the building, which has been derelict since the 1980s He said: “That is the worst eyesore in the whole of Brighton. What impression does that give of the city if people come to spend money here?

“This property has been empty for over 20 years and during those years Brighton council and now the city council have given the owner planning permission on at least ten occasions for redevelopment.

“The owner has on each occasion let most of these planning permissions lapse and in my opinion has never had any intention of redeveloping.”

There was renewed hope in January 2007 when plans were submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council to knock down the old building and put up two linked towers with space for 509 cars on three underground parking levels.

But just a month later the proposed plans were recommended for refusal by planning officers.

The report said: “While the demolition of Anston House is welcomed and the redevelopment of the site ismuch needed, the current proposal driven by floor space leaves far toomuch to be determined.”

ComeMay the property had been sold for £10.5 million but redevelopment still never happened.

In 2008 the site saw a group of protesters encamp on the site as a demonstration against plans to fell trees by developer Bridgetown Properties.

On January 17 there was a fire at one of the caravans used by the protesters, minutes before they were due to be evicted.

Colin Bissett, 58, who owned the caravan, said: “We went to the shops and returned to see our caravan on fire. Bailiffs were due on site at midday to remove the protesters, who had lived there for seven months.

This year developer Investec received permission to convert the nine-storey block into 44 flats.

The city now holds its breath to see if finally the ugly caterpillar of a building can be converted into a beautiful butterfly.