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Portsmouth blasts 'hideous' Pick Everard Navy scheme

Architects in Portsmouth have condemned plans for a new Royal Navy HQ after dismissing the design by Pick Everard as hideous. The Portsmouth Society attacked the £14 million building proposed for Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour, which is with the planners. Pick Everard's Taunton office drew up plans for a 13,500m 2block, with blue curtain walls and curved roofs to the five-storey design. The site commands the approach to the city from the water.

Roger James, secretary of the Portsmouth Society, said: 'It is an opportunity for a splendid landmark building but the design proposed is actively hideous and fails to do justice to this magnificent site.'He said the local RIBA office thought the footprint - likened to a four-leafed clover - was contrived, the inner atrium was unsatisfactory and the raised roof was not expressed externally.

Work on the HQ is due to start in late summer for a 2003 finish.

James said: 'The government endlessly assures us it is committed to good design, and the Ministry of Defence has produced Design Better Defence Buildings.Why has this large and important building been completely overlooked?'

Ian Parkinson, principal development control officer for Portsmouth, said he was sending the drawings to CABE. 'We hope the issues are taken on board and they will modify the scheme. I believe it can be changed without a total redesign.'

Philip Hawtin, senior associate and project architect at Pick Everard, was surprised the Portsmouth Society went public: 'They haven't even given us the chance to get back to them and they may not appreciate what we are trying to achieve.'

He said his team was 'reviewing the situation' and a meeting with the council was due next week.

Hawtin refused to release images of the scheme because 'they are not quite at the stage we want them published' and the ministry was sensitive about these issues.

Commander Mike Tompkinson, the Royal Navy officer responsible for the project, said he was happy with the proposals. But the MoD was keen to win the approval of Portsmouth even though it did not require approval from the local planners, being an MoD project. He insisted critics did not realise the full brief or the needs for security. 'Any building is a potential terrorist target and I think the fellow [James] is quite out of order making these sorts of statements without getting an explanation on why things are the way they are.'

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