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CABE attacks plan to demolish Kidderminster Piano building

CABE has condemned Lyons + Sleeman + Hoare's plan to demolish Kidderminster's much-loved Piano building and replace it with a new cinema designed by the practice.

CABE's design review committee has called on Kidderminster council to refuse permission for the scheme - arguing that the new three-storey cinema building is of insufficient quality to justify the demolition.

The five-storey red brick Piano building lies in the centre of Kidderminster between the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal and the River Stour. In plan it resembles a grand piano and although not listed has strong local support.

CABE said of Lyons + Sleeman + Hoare's proposed replacement scheme that it 'has not been well enough considered in urban design terms' and that it presents a 'forbidding' exterior presence.

'It does nothing to convince us, as a piece of urban design or as a piece of architecture, that it is a worthy replacement for an existing building of acknowledged quality, ' CABE said. And it added that the scheme ignored a crucial opportunity to capitalise on the strong relationship between the Piano building and the neighbouring Slingfield Mills and the public spaces between them.

The cinema proposal is part of a wider project, won by Lyons + Sleeman + Hoare in 1995 - to develop Kidderminster's town centre.

The practice was not available for comment.

lCABE's design review committee has called DLA Architects' residential scheme for the Old Town Conservation Area of Kingston Upon Hull 'over-ambitious' and in contrast with its context.

And it said the design analysis did not support the proposition for a landmark tower or gateway building on the site.

The eleven-storey, residential-led mixed-use scheme includes 143 apartments on the upper floors arranged in courtyard form around a communal roof garden at third floor level. CABE said the 'formulaic apartment size and arrangement appears at odds with the varied and intricate character of the conservation area. Re-examining the context for the proposal in greater detail and relating the new building to its surroundings through an informed character appraisal would, in our view, lead to a project that is more likely to succeed.'

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