Demolishing historic Eastbourne building is nothing short of vandalism

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From: The Trustees, The Eastbourne Society

We are appalled by the proposals for the demolition and replacement of the former TJ Hughes building.

To tear down the original 1925 building and replace it with a brutalist block is nothing short of vandalism.

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Designed by P D Stonham – one of the leading architects of the day who ran his business in Eastbourne – this building is a landmark in the Seafront Conservation Area (which was deliberately extended around this building to give it extra protection) and contributes hugely to our town centre’s identity.

Eastbourne town centre: Old TJ Hughes shop SUS-201011-131704001Eastbourne town centre: Old TJ Hughes shop SUS-201011-131704001
Eastbourne town centre: Old TJ Hughes shop SUS-201011-131704001

To bulldoze our heritage and then suggest renaming it ‘Burlington Corner’ is at best insensitive and at worst utterly disrespectful.

Comments received during the ‘extensive pre-application consultation’, appear to have been ignored as the plan being put forward remains virtually unchanged.

The Eastbourne Society supports the principle of a comprehensive mixed-use regeneration of the site but not this also-ran, off-the-peg architecture. There is a real opportunity to be creative.

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Look at the imaginative work that was done by Squire and Partners to transform the 1906 Brixton landmark Bon Marche department store. Once derelict it is now restored and transformed for a vibrant mix of creative, retail, and community uses (search for The Department Store Brixton on Google and be inspired).

The iconic corner building must stay. The post-war extensions can be replaced with architecture that respects and showcases the decorative architectural features of Stonham’s original.

In the ‘20s and ‘30s, there were daily afternoon tea dances in the top floor restaurant with its beautiful dome and maple floor; this still exists and must be retained. During WWII the building was used for making parachutes; it didn’t survive the town’s bombing only to be torn down for this so-called ‘transformation’.

This plan, if accepted, will go a long way towards destroying the unique character of our town centre.

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The word ‘beautiful’ has been reintroduced to the planning system as the new Office for Place empowers local communities to ‘ask for beauty and refuse ugliness’.

We refuse this ugliness. Beautiful Eastbourne demands better. These plans must be stopped.