Hove businessman spells out King Alfred plans

Posted On 04 Oct 2012 at 7:58 pm

A businessman shared his plans to build an arts and leisure centre on a key seafront site in Hove this evening (Thursday 4 October).

Rob Starr wants to replace the King Alfred Leisure Centre with a scheme that he described as “Brighton and Hove’s front room”.

With his brother-in-law, opera singer Darren Abrahams, he urged Brighton and Hove City Council to help turn his dreams into reality.

The council wants any scheme to include more than 400 flats to tackle the city’s housing shortage.

Mr Starr said that the working title for his project is The Lyrics, with an emphasis on performing arts, rehearsal space and a gallery.

Mr Starr also wants it to include a 50-metre swimming pool but ruled out an ice rink and said that he wasn’t sure that the site was right for a school.

One neighbour called for a sympathetic design as Mr Starr declined to say what sort of height any design would be.

The controversial Karis proposal was mentioned more than once. Karis’s scheme, with architect Frank Gehry’s involvement, won planning permission but failed when the bank ING pulled the plug four years ago.

Architect Steve Tompkins said that it was too early to set a height for the scheme as much would depend on the council’s requirements. He said that any scheme was unlikely to be built before 2015.

Valerie Paynter, of the Save Hove campaign group, gave broad support, having fought the Karis scheme. She said that she would though ask tough questions throughout the process.

Mr Starr, who runs the Edward Starr Charitable Trust and is chief executive of Hove company Seico Insurance, encouraged people to engage with his team as consultation gets under way.

  1. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    It is unprecedented in my experience to see a developer coming to the public (complete with drinks and circulating trays of canapes before and after) to introduce a major project idea and to seek views and public input before a major project is even designed.

    We are all so conditioned to being shown a fait accompli and offered last minute fake consultation that I did feel from floor questionings that there was a bit of mental juggling going on as to just what stage this project was at.

    Momma Cherry’s question made this clear.

    They have met with the Council. The Council owns the land and ultimately, until the Council gives a go-ahead, nobody can be invited to develop the site. Ball is in the Council court.

    The council has now been approached by so many that a Project Board has been set up (announced on 20 September at Economic Development and Culture)to sort it.

    The only councillors I noticed making time to attend were the Green Chair of Planning, and one of the ward councillors, Christopher Hawtree, the previous Green Chair Phelim MacCafferty, Labour Opposition Leader Gill Mitchell and Conservative Councillor Vanessa Brown. Were others there? Don’t think so!

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