THE TWENTIETH CENTURY SOCIETY   |   AHRA   |   Dreamland Trust’s response to TDC ‘independent’ heritage report

From: Christina Malathouni  
Date: 18 October 2011 18:04
18 October 2011
Dear Madeline Homer

Arlington House & 1?50 Arlington Square, Margate CT9 1XP
Your ref F/TH/10/1061
Our ref 11 10 03
The Society wishes to comment on the above planning application. The Society?s Casework Committee discussed the above application on Monday 10 October 2011. There was great interest in the existing building and we are very pleased to hear that this is being assessed by English Heritage for listing. For the same reasons, we are however deeply concerned about the impact that the proposed scheme would have on the architectural qualities of Arlington House and, as a consequence, to the Margate Conservation Area and the setting of a number of neighbouring listed structures.
The existing building
Designed by Russell Diplock Associates and completed in 1964, the development was typical of its time in that it put forward an integrated scheme with a large car park, a shopping centre and a residential tower block. Also typical of that period was the introduction of a number of tall buildings by the English seaside. Far from a mediocre example of these 1960s trends, however, the elegant design of the tower?s elevations, whose wave form in some way reflects its seaside setting, and also the skilful treatment of the carpark decking and its supporting columns make Arlington House a particularly good example and add significantly to its strong presence on Margate?s seafront. At the time of its completion, the development was covered in the professional press (Builder, 20 November 1964), as were a number of other projects by Russell Diplock Associates in the late 1950s and 1960s, and survives to date astonishingly intact.
The current proposals
The proposed scheme seems to show very limited appreciation to the architectural qualities of Arlington House. Both the replacement of the ?podium? (carpark; shopping arcade) and the introduction of a roofscreen undermine the building?s original design. The way in which buildings meet the ground and their top ends are crucial as far as their reading as architectural entities is concerned. The way the new proposals interfere with these two key areas of Arlington House is most unfortunate and, should the scheme be granted permission, would detract from its special architectural interest.
Neighbouring heritage assets
Given its prominent position on Margate?s seafront and its close proximity to a number of very important listed structures (Grade II* Cinema; Grade II* Scenic Railway; Grade II menagerie cages) and the Margate Conservation Area, it is imperative that the architectural integrity of the Arlington House is maintained.
Whatever the outcome of the English Heritage?s assessment may be, the Society believes that Arlington House is a building of strong character, worth cherishing and preserving. Should there be any alterations to Arlington House, these should be respectful of, and not contradict, its character. We are disappointed to see that insufficient appreciation is presented in the scheme currently submitted to the Council and deeply concerned about its impact on the building, its urban setting and neighbouring heritage assets.
We hope our comments will be of help and taken into consideration. Should you require some clarification on any of the above, do not hesitate to contact me. I would also greatly appreciate if you could keep us informed of any further developments on this case.
Remit: The Twentieth Century Society was founded in 1979 and is the national amenity society concerned with the protection, appreciation, and study of post-1914 architecture, townscape and design. The Society is acknowledged in national planning guidance as the key organisation concerned with the modern period (see Annex to PPG15), and is a constituent member of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies. Under the procedures set out in ODPM Circular 09/2005, all English local planning authorities must inform the Twentieth Century Society when an application for listed building consent involving partial or total demolition is received, and they must notify us of the decisions taken on these applications.
Yours sincerely
Dr Christina Malathouni
cc Posy Metz, English Heritage
Sam Causer, Vice Chair, Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group
Nick Laister, Chairman, The Dreamland Trust
The Twentieth Century Society
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