Astoria comes down as new scheme approved

Posted On 25 Apr 2018 at 2:36 pm

By Carol Homewood

The demolition of the much-loved Art Deco Astoria Cinema has begun in earnest as work begins on replacing it with a scheme for 70 high end flats.

The Brighton Rox scheme was approved by planning officers a few weeks ago as a variation of a former scheme which was approved on appeal last year.

As with the earlier plans, a contribution of £1.6million to the city council will be made to make up for the lack of any affordable housing on the site.

Campaigners fought for many years to save the Grade II listed cinema, which was also used as a bingo hall and has lain empty since 1997.

However, developer Mike Holland secured planning permission to knock it down in 2015 after successfully arguing that it was beyond repair.

In a nod to the past, the current developers hope to keep some of the original features if they survive asbestos removal.

Its application states: “The design team intends to retain some features of the existing building where possible, however a large degree of asbestos within the building will make this difficult. Once the asbestos is removed the team will assess the viability of retaining any features.

“The existing building features a set of decorative metal grills that the team intend to retain and integrate into the new scheme if possible.”

The original Astoria interior with the grilles on either side of the cinema screen

Mr Holland bought the cinema for £2.2million from Brighton dance company Stomp in 2001 after its plans to use it never came to fruition.

After it closed as a cinema in the seventies, it became a bingo hall until 1997. In 1998, permission was granted to turn it into a horror-themed nightclub, but it never opened as a drinks licence was refused.

Mr Holland was given planning permission to knock it down and replace it with offices, shops, cafes and a handful of flats in 2015. However, he never started work, instead selling it to a student housing company.

The new owners’ plans to build serviced flats – effectively student halls for young professionals – were turned down by Brighton and Hove City Council but allowed on appeal.

However, the site was sold on again to Ktesius who are behind the current plans, which they said last autumn would be realised within two years.

By Carol Homewood

This is the second derelict listed building in the city to be knocked down in recent weeks. Last week, demolition of Medina House in Hove was completed in readiness for a new building, designed to be an “echo” of the original, to be built in its place.

  1. Ed Stone Reply

    As with the Astoria, so with the Hippodrome, and too many more sites in Brighton & Hove. The council seems to make it incredibly hard for those willing to take on the financial, legal and commercial risks to run a business, build homes or places of entertainment, and in the process create jobs and attract visitors and fuel the local economy. The licensing regime is far from perfect, and almost as unnecessarily restrictive as the planning regime, and one of the results is the delays which lead to historic buildings being neglected for so long they end up having to be demolished.

  2. rolivan Reply

    I hope the £1.6m goes towards Social Housing and not into the general pot

  3. Macks Garden Reply

    It would be nice if some developments in Brighton were built for ordinary families in dire need – instead of the current and continuing myriad of developments either for students at the old fruit and veg market and lewes rd barracks and in effect here as well as the development at the marina sold off to wealthy foreign investors with many remaining ’empty’ – what will brighton be like in another 20 years if this madness continues? – brighton politicians mainly elected by students, the majority of whom will not be residents by the time the next election comes around.
    It’s like living under a proxy form of dictatorship controlled by the ever expanding universities than an actual democractic system.

  4. Leo Reply

    I do hope the current developers survive asbestos removal.

  5. jay Reply

    This has been agreed by the party for the many not the few.

    Wonder where the £1million will go?

    • will Reply

      To the many I guess

  6. Marcus Reply

    Great news. Am very interested in getting one as a buy to let. Does anyone know how much they will be? If people want social housing suggest is built in portslade, mileoak Whitehalk etc. Good to keep centre nice

  7. Sandells Reply

    Nobody thinks on Brighton Council of the families going back generations ,who have brought their children up ,paid their taxes all born and bred in Brighton ,yet there are no affordable homes for our children .House prices impossibly high ,and as for renting its all for the mass of students who pay no council tax .yet are covered by all that’s provided by the council,ie police street lights hospital !!!? Bear road in a disgusting state same all around Lewes Road,hollingdean Road ,hollingdean estate and many more .Green Party ,thats a laugh .The place has gone to pot since they took over Brighton.

  8. Will York Reply

    When did the communists take over? Using the whip hand of corruption to keep the pockets of their rogue capitalist cronies full-up, whilst ensuring the center of Brighton seethes with beggers as housing officials step over bodies to get to work to shuffle people online to Universal Credit. Social Housing consists of nothing more than being placed with drug addicts and discharged mental patients. If you survive 5 minutes WITHOUT being asked for money walking on North Street in Brighton consider yourself lucky. Who wants to come here to view the filthy rubbish tip that are streets piled high with mattresses, duvets, pallets and people straight out of a Hollywood zombie film? Or listen to ear splitting motorcycles driven by thugs with one sadistic purpose in mind: blowing your kids ears apart, never one police car parked at the clocktower for longer than 2 minutes. Brighton politicians are nothing more than glorified criminals; bagmen for the banksters and property development scammers. The Astoria was not beyond repair and everyone knows Brighton is way past saving.

  9. Jonathan Adams Reply

    The grills were for decoration Infront of the organ Chambers! hope they don’t throw them away:\ this is such a tragedy!!

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