The architect behind rejected plans for Worthing seafront has defended his design amid criticism from residents today (Thursday, April 7).
The third day of a planning inquiry for proposals by Roffey Homes for the corner of Grand Avenue and West Parade heard ECE managing director Stuart Eatock describe his scheme as ‘high-quality’.
Yesterday, residents claimed plans were ‘too tall’, ‘too bulky’ and could negatively affect more than 250 residents.
Giving evidence at the start of Roffey’s case, Mr Eatock said: “The proposal is completely appropriate among a cluster of tall buildings and the appropriate place for the tallest building on the seafront, in my opinion, although given Worthing’s investment prospectus and development aspirations this may well not be the tallest building on the seafront for long.”
Mr Eatock, whose Worthing-based firm designed the likes of Northbrook College’s Broadwater campus, new Bohunt school and Roffey’s Vista Mare, said it had a reputation for modern buildings ‘derived from their context’.
He took the inquiry through a detailed design process, with more than 50 designs considered.
He said materials took cues from pebbles on the beach, as well as the colours of adjacent buildings.
The final design went before Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last year, following two public consultations.
Protect Worthing Seafront campaign group earlier criticised the consultation process, asking why those most affected had not been personally visited.
Co-chairman Phil Abbott urged Roffey to reconsider a lower building, stepped back from its proposed position.
Mr Eatock said they altered the scheme following consultation, including lowering the tower from 12 storeys to 11.
He revealed a larger, 14-storey tower had been considered but rejected as it would have ‘overdominated’ surroundings.
He said the council’s identification of sites like the Grafton car park as a development opportunity could see larger buildings than the proposed scheme built there in future.
He added: “We reduced the tower to a point which we felt comfortable that it was proportional, acceptable and of a high-quality design. I feel we have listened to the community, though there is differing opinion.”
The appeal will run until at least tomorrow, with Roffey continuing its case. It will be reconvened on Tuesday if it overruns.
Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley addressed the inquiry in the morning, alongside other residents in the morning session.
He called for the traditional building lines to be maintained, adding the most appropriate place for a tower block was near Worthing Station.
Mr Eatock hinted he felt building lines were important but should not be ‘sacrosanct’. He argued the building line along the seafront fluctuated, though council barrister Stephen Whale contended it was ‘predominantly consistent’.
David Sawers, of the Worthing Society, said: “It is an inappropriate design for this site and one which puts private profit before public interest.”
The appeal continues.