Developers today released the first pictures showing how the £290 million King Alfred leisure centre would look on the inside.

Developer Karis wants to build 751 homes and a new sports complex to replace the run-down leisure centre on Hove seafront which dates back to the Thirties.

If councillors approve the plans next Friday, it would become the first project to be built in England by Frank Gehry, the man who created Bilbao's famous Guggenheim Museum.

John Barrow Managing Director of HOK, the company which designed the centre in partnership with Mr Gehry, said: "We were given the most demanding brief - design a sports facility that could accommodate a full range of sports, be used for leisure pursuits as well as serious sport enthusiasts.

"It also had to provide floors that could be raised and lowered in the two main pools to accommodate all potential uses and abilities, include a fitness area, two multi-use sport halls, areas for spectators, cafe, maximize sea views and work with Frank Gehry to produce a stunning design."

Jack Wilkinson, an adviser to the Sussex County Sports Partnership who worked for Sport England when the brief was drawn up, has endorsed the proposals along with several sports coaches and swimming clubs.

But architect Nick Lomax, who helped design Brighton's award-winning Jubilee Library, launched a scathing attack on the King Alfred, likening the project to "the emperor's new clothes".

Mr Lomax, who will give a speech to members of Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce tonight, said: "Gehry might be one of the most famous architects in the world but the proposed development at King Alfred is just far too dense for that site.

"There are too many homes. But with the brief he was given - even the best architects would be doomed to fail. I am afraid we just need to start from scratch."

He also questioned Karis's costings for the project.

"They say the swimming pool is going to cost £48 million but you should be able to do it for half that price. That's about £5,000 per square metre.

"If I was Mayor of Brighton I'd bin it. It's a case of the emperor's new clothes."

In January Mr Lomax gave his backing to a consortium, led by millionaire entrepreneur Mike Holland, proposing an alternative scheme for the leisure centre.

They came up with plans offering a maximum 450 homes, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and bowling facilities which would come in at £25 million.

The proposals were backed Conservative councillors but the ruling labour party said it was "too late" to be coming up with new ideas with a planning meeting imminent.

Josh Arghiros, managing director of Karis, accused Mr Lomax of opportunism.

He said: "The brief we were given was categoric in its requirements.

"Gehry and ourselves took that brief and carried out 18 months of consultation with all sections of the community before coming up with our designs.

"And, it is important to stress this, we have the community on our side - despite the representations of a vitriolic and vocal minority."

Meanwhile the city's Tories have called on the council to postpone its March 23 meeting to rule on the planning application until after the May local elections.

Party leader Brian Oxley said: "This whole thing is so controversial I believe it would be better taken after the elections. We have waited years to reach this stage, a few more weeks will not hurt anyone."

To see a larger picture of the plans, click here.

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