December 2016 update
We've written before about the Hyde Housing Association and its proposals for the site of the former Sackville Hotel. We've objected to a previous proposal for a 17 storey tower on this site.
Hyde Housing is now preparing to submit a new planning application for the site and they presented their revised proposals at a public exhibition at the end of November. They have appointed a new team of architects – HGP Architects from Fareham – and have conducted a number of consultative workshops with local residents.
The design they are currently suggesting is for a block of sixty-four one and two bedroom apartments in a building which rises to a height of eight and half floors along the whole of the site’s Kingsway frontage.
The Society considers that the proposal is at the extreme upper limit of what might be considered permitted height. We also note that the FAR has been reduced to 3.2 and the density to 402 dwellings per hectare. These figures are still high but they could be considered acceptable on such a valuable site. However, the Society is unhappy about the massing of the proposed block – it presents an unrelenting cliff-face along Kingsway and makes absolutely no attempt to turn the corner into Sackville Gardens in an elegant manner – it is little more than an extrusion that has been chopped off in arbitrary fashion. Nor does it really make any attempt to mitigate its relationship with the villas of Sackville Gardens in an elegant manner (interestingly the exhibition carefully avoided showing any elevation drawings to illustrate that important relationship).
We are also disappointed by the poor architectural quality of the design. The final proposal fails totally to break-up the mass of the Kingsway frontage or to articulate it any way. Bizarrely the exhibition shows a previous scheme, apparently rejected by the Design South East Review Panel, which proposed a curving corner with more nuanced stepping – in our opinion a far superior design from every point of view to that which is now being promoted.
We further consider that the design exhibits a bland commercially inspired architecture that does little to respond to either the Sackville Gardens Conservation Areas or to the seafront. The elevational treatment is neurotic and the side-stepping of the windows is totally inappropriate. In particular we are critical of the use of transparent glass balconies – experience has shown that:
a) these are unpopular with residents who are wont to install secondary screens behind the glass; b) they reveal the whole mess of balcony living to the world; c) they are visually obtrusive in bright sunlight.
For these reasons the Society is opposed to this idea and intends to urge the Conservation Advisory Group to recommend refusal if it is submitted for planning in its present form.
Please note: - we have received a reply to these comments from the architects for this scheme, HGP Archtects LTd, explaining that this design is not as yet a firm proposal and work and consultation continues. Read the reply in full here