Roffey Homes managing director Ben Cheal pulls a silly woolen hat over our eyes about his Aquarena skyscraper.
I think we recognise by now developers’ flabby unpersuasive PR spin.
Stack ’em high, sell ’em expensive.
Put up one anomalous stack of flats to attract affluent non-Worthing residents and the precedent is set, future objections nullified, the door is opened.
But let’s get it up quick, before the wind farm ruins the vista.
“. . . a landmark building that represents Worthing’s confidence in itself as a vibrant and thriving seaside town,” says Mr Cheal. It’s laughable, isn’t it?
Really? So the skyscrapers lining, overlooking, dominating the beaches of southern Spain are such expressions of confidence! How inhuman and unscenic they look.
Still sticking to 21 floors, Mr Cheal? How often every 10 years will they all be covered in ugly outside decorators’ scaffolding? I don’t call that ‘visually exciting’.
Worthing’s expressing itself confidently enough already through its time-honoured and envied pier, bandstand, dome, our three surviving theatres, our annual outdoor theatre in July, our palm trees, our miles of walking and cycling promenade, our numerous public events on or near it, our cafes and restaurants, our arts groups and galleries – and our seafront blocks of flats west of the pier, held in check height-wise as ongoing salutory acknowledgment of our ancient folly in allowing Dolphin Lodge to scratch the clouds.
No one will be coming here to Worthing just to see your seafront skyscraper statement, Mr Cheal.
They might, were this London, but, believe me, Worthing is just not visually excited by that sort of thing.
Backs will be turned to it in facing the sea. And neither will the council back-scratching provisions Mr Cheal mentions compensate for a building that, once up, the public will wish could only be pulled down.
In choosing an appropriately confident architectural act of celebration of a thriving maritime town life force, look west. Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower. It’s a public building allowing everyone a view far and wide.
Symbolically apt in Worthing would be a modestly-elevated lighthouse in modern concept with something happening underneath and a topmost public lookout level with a lamp, maybe revolving, reminding seafarer and landlubber alike that Worthing is here on the map.
Mr Cheal’s PR script would better suit something like that.
Planners, stick to your intelligence and common sense. Invite imagination, flair and proportion – and wave away any local politicians foolish enough to be taken in by Roffey Homes lobbyists.
Let’s have no more blunders. Order Roffey Homes to lop their plans and find them somewhere else, preferably inland.
Meanwhile, council, let’s go back to the drawing board and put up something to be proud of and cherished next to the Aquarena, instead of something else to be ashamed of and embarrassed about.
• Want to share your views? Send your letters by email or post them to Letters, Worthing Herald, Cannon House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, BN11 1NA. Remember to include your full name and address.
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