Where do we go from here?

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REGARDING the Canon O’Donnell centre, the rejection of the developers’ completely inappropriate scheme, with its integral demolition application, is a step in the right direction, but only a small first step.

It begs the question of what, if anything, the present dilapidated Edwardian building could feasibly be used for, assuming of course that a rigid conservation policy were to be imposed.

The complete lack of “takers” to date rather suggests that there is not much mileage, if any, in retention and reuse of the building, unless the district council as planning authority can come up with a workable planning brief for the site, the building, and its setting.

The other side of the coin of course is that of redevelopment and replacement with a building of distinction and quality that will enhance the site and its location. So much is obvious.

What is not quite so obvious is the best way forward. In my view the best course of action would be for an expert professional advisor in conservation, architectural, & planning matters to be appointed to expound on the best way out of this intractable problem.

I do not feel that such specialised advice exists locally, as it not so far evident, with all due respect to the many highly motivated bodies and individuals who have expressed views and opinions. I feel we are all shooting around the target without actually hitting it.

One possibility which Michael Barnard and I have both already suggested, and which could be considered by an independent consultant, is that of holding an open competition for a planning and design solution, to which leading professional firms would be invited to participate, though this would need to follow some form of agreed planning brief, an essential first stage. It may all sound a bit difficult, but nobody said it was going to be easy!

Michael Parfect, Lewes