The “unattractive” former home of a Brighton nightclub is set to be revamped and extended as part of plans developers hope will help spruce up West Street.
Matsim – which also owns Brighton Hippodrome – wants to put a new facade and an extra floor on top of the Academy building, home to Popworld until this year.
The new façade has been designed to fit in better with the window pattern of the Royal Exchange building next door.
An extra fifth floor would be added on the West Street side, and a seven storey cascading extension to the Boyce’s Street side for extra office space.
The ground and basement floors would be kept as a pub/club space, and a new entrance to the building from Boyces Street with a courtyard would be added.
Andy Lambor, director of Matsim, said: “We feel that West Street is a very important artery linking the station to the seafront for the very many tourists that visit the town.
“The quality of some of the buildings at the lower end of the street are very poor and the area would benefit with the alterations to 59 West Street where the unattractive façade has been criticised in the Old Town Conservation Plan.
“The area to the rear, fronting Boyces Street, is very run down and in need of significant improvement.
“The upper parts of the building are derelict, having been unused for many years by the previous tenants.
“We feel that this is an ideal opportunity to bring forward a development that will provide much needed Grade A office space, improve the environment of Boyces Street, improve the face of West Street and assist with the hoped for refurbishment of the Hippodrome in bringing forward the Public Realm of Boyces Street and Middle Street, an area that has been very badly neglected for many years.
“Bearing in mind other additional floors added recently in the area, permitted development rights and the need for office space of a minimum size to suit the market place, we feel that these proposals provide an ideal opportunity to satisfy many needs.”
Also included in the plans are waste management and recycling facilities, secure cycle parking, and plant rooms.
The plans also mention that the company will complete an internal remodelling of two existing flats in 60 West Street, the Royal Exchange building, with new window openings.
Both buildings are within the Old Town Conservation Area, which stretches from North Street to the seafront, between West Street and Old Steine.
Popworld closed its doors after after New Years Eve 2022, moving to host “takeover” events at Walkabout, also on West Street, every Friday and Saturday night.
In 2015, another developer said it wanted to turn West Street into Brighton’s Las Ramblas – Barcelona’s famous tree-lined boulevard – with plans for a luxury hotel on the site of the former Sherry’s nightclub, later home to Pink Coconut, Paradox and Hedkandi.
The nightclub is now demolished and the new building going on up the site is set to be a Premier Inn.
You can read the full application for the Academy Buiding on the council’s planning portal by searching for the reference: BH2023/02472.