A developer plans to knock down a neo-classical 1930s building in the centre of Brighton and replace it with a six-storey office block.
Kruton, the London-based developer, wants to demolish the four-storey building that has been home to the Brighton Media Centre, music venue Sticky Mike’s and Slam Star Karaoke.
Its plans include space for a café or restaurant on the ground floor.
The developer said: “The current condition of this building, including its principal east-facing façade, was recognised by Brighton and Hove City Council to have deteriorated to such a degree that its renovation is unviable.”
The council’s Planning Committee is due to decide the application next week and officials have given their backing to the scheme.
But the council’s Conservation Advisory Group narrowly voted to recommend that the plans for a key site in the Old Town Conservation Area be refused.
The group said: “Those who recommended refusal believed the existing façade at least was worthy of preservation and were not persuaded by the applicant’s contention that the reconstituted stone was beyond repair.
“They also noted the setting of the application site which includes the grade II* synagogue opposite.
“The façade is of the same date and style to the Co-op building in London Road. CAG recommended that to be retained.”
One objector wrote to the council raising concerns about the potential loss of the cracked frontage.
The objector, whose details have been redacted on the council’s website, said: “With deep horizontal rustications it is unique in central Brighton and a feature of this conservation area.
“In addition, the pitch pine parquet flooring, terrazzo staircase and other original features will be removed.
“This is completely against the Brighton and Hove City Council environmental planning guidelines and shows a lack of design thought.”
The architects Morgan Carn said that it was not possible to keep the front and that emergency work was carried out in January last year to prevent masonry falling into the street.
Morgan Carn said: “The structural report confirmed this was caused by corrosion of the embedded steel reinforcement leading to excessive movement and cracking of the stonework.
“As the reinforcement corroded and expanded, it pushed the stonework forwards, breaking the bond between it and the main wall.
“In addition, the face of the wall had also suffered from frost damage and erosion.”
If the council’s Planning Committee grants permission for the scheme, Kruton is likely to be asked for a payment, known as a developer contribution, of more than £30,000.
The council wants the money to pay for better pavements and crossings in the area and to go towards its local employment and training strategy.
The committee is due to meet at 2pm next Wednesday (1 April) at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is due to be webcast at present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=118&MId=9622.