Developer vows to turn the Astoria into Brighton ‘Rox’ within two years

Posted On 25 Oct 2017 at 11:20 pm

A London developer has bought the old Astoria cinema in Brighton and has vowed to demolish it and build 70 flats on the site by the end of 2019.

Ktesius, the developer, has joined forces with an investment firm called Cogress, also based in London, to bring “vitality to the area” with its seven-storey scheme – to be called the Rox.

Several schemes have been submitted for the site of the formerly grade II listed building, with the most recent one granted planning permission in January after an appeal.

The plans were originally turned down by Brighton and Hove City Council before being granted permission by planning inspector Tim Wood.

The scheme approved in January includes 70 one, two, three and four-bedroom flats and a mix of shops, offices, cafés and community space on the ground floor.

It did not include any affordable housing but allowed for a payment of £1.6 million to the council to fund homes elsewhere in the area. Four of the flats were to be fully wheelchair accessible.

The new owner said: “Ktesius, founded by ex-Northacre CEO Ken MacRae, in partnership with Cogress Ltd, has acquired the former Brighton Astoria cinema site, close to the Royal Pavilion and historic Brighton Pier, to deliver 70 apartments in an iconic new development.

“The existing building, which is run down and has sat vacant for the past 20 years, will be demolished and replaced with a seven storey building designed by the renowned Cove Burgess Architects.

“Extending to approximately 67,694sq ft, it will comprise 70 one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments, plus commercial space at ground level that will help to revitalise the street.

“Situated in Gloucester Place opposite the Valley Gardens conservation area, the site enjoys a prominent location within walking distance of all that Brighton has to offer, including the Royal Pavilion, seafront and pier, as well as the popular North Laine –a unique street lined with interesting boutiques, cafés and bars.

“The train station is also just a five-minute walk away.

“Built in 1933 in a prominent art-deco style, the Astoria was designed by Edward Albert Stone, who also designed the Astorias in Brixton, Streatham, Finsbury Park, Charing Cross Road and Old Kent Road.

“The historic building was capable of seating 1,823 people and was seen as a major attraction for Brighton, seeing various uses including a bingo hall and night club, before closing its doors in 1997 and falling into disrepair.”

Ktesius Projects chief executive Ken MacRae said: “Brighton is one of the most vibrant cities in the UK and we are very excited to be working with the local authority and local consultants to deliver new homes and unique commercial space that will bring even more vitality to the area.

“We are aware that the site has changed hands a number of times with various stalled proposals.

“However, we have a strong track record and confidence in our carefully selected project team that will deliver an outstanding scheme of the highest possible quality.

“We also look forward to delivering a development which will seek to enhance the arts in central Brighton.”

Cogress chief executive Tal Orly said: “We are constantly striving to diversify our portfolio to bring our growing network of qualified investors the best investment opportunities across the UK.

“This development, our second with Ktesius Group, aims to meet investors’ demand for more affordable development opportunities outside London.”

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    There’s that VILE word again. Anyone deploying the word ‘iconic ‘ is flagging up loud & clear just how much we need to brace ourselves for something truly appalling, out of place and sure to deface the historic context.

    London developers, eh? Well we know how they wrecked once fabulous London over the last 30 years…don’t we.

    • Mike Benton Reply


      Who do you suppose built the London that you believe has been wrecked? Oh, yes London developers.

      Your home will have been built by a developer – why all the angst?

  2. Eleanor Crowhurst Reply

    How can a planning inspector authorise the demolition of a listed building? What then is the point of listing. One rule for ordinary people, another for rich property developers.

    • Justin Yates Reply

      You’re right Eleanor. They should have declined the application and made them leave the building in its derelict state… at least then nobody would make any money. Jobs and regeneration are good but spitefully denying people willing to take financial risk for reasonable reward is better

  3. Justin Yates Reply

    You’re right Eleanor, they should have denied the planning request and made them leave the building derelict… at least then nobody could make any money. Jobs and regeneration are fine, as long as no capitalists are using them to cover up the fact that they are making profit just because they take financial risks!

  4. Michael Sharples Reply

    I agree with Eleanor. Demolishing a grade II Listed building is not right and stinks of corruption and Justin you’re sticking up for the rich developers for taking a “financial risk”!?
    If they were truly taking a risk then they would be doing something with the existing building! Flats in central Brighton are in constant demand. A development like this is zero risk and is like a license to print money.

  5. Thomas Nicholson Reply

    The listing was granted in 2001 and lifted in 2012 unfortunately. I am an artist and student of UoB currently making some work about the site, if you are interested please click this link here –

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