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Local concern shrinks Gehry's seaside special

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Local groups have forced Frank Gehry to reconsider the size of his seaside skyscrapers in Hove.

Developer Karis/ING has responded to concerns about the height of the controversial 38-storey towers on the King Alfred site which, at 122m, would be the tallest buildings in Sussex.

It now proposes to lower the four towers to between 17 to 20 storeys.

However, to ensure the scheme is still a financial success, Karis/ING was due to ask Brighton & Hove council's policy and resources committee yesterday (Wednesday) to allow a further 152 homes on the site and limit the commercial space.

Gehry's design has met with mixed reactions since the team won a competition to redesign and replace the run-down King Alfred leisure centre last year.

Yet Josh Arghiros, managing director of Karis/ING, maintains the move is just the latest stage in Gehry's ongoing design process. He said:

'Frank made a first, intuitive response to the site but the design is fluid and will change and change.

'We have carried out extensive local research and some residents said they didn't want to feel overwhelmed by the development, so we have taken that on board. But the concept behind the scheme has not changed at all, it has evolved. Frank did not want to rush in without community participation.

'It is also very clear that Frank Gehry doesn't dumb down. Our contract says that the subjective and aesthetic control is left with him, though he will take heed of the community's wishes.'

The council anticipates that new concept designs will be available for consultation later in the year and a planning application will be submitted before Christmas.

Arghiros added: 'It is a £200million project and we have to do our homework before we start.

The planning application alone will cost £6million-plus so we must get this right from day one.

Selma Montford, secretary of the Brighton Society, said: 'We welcome the reduction in height.

We were worried the towers would cast the most enormous shadows across Hove. It is a step in the right direction but we need many more.'

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