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CABE wades in to St Albans cinema row

Benoy's troubled Brickett Road cinema scheme in St Albans, Hertfordshire, has received a scathing attack from CABE.

The watchdog has waded in to the high-profile argument about the development (AJ 15.02.07) after branding the contentious seven-screen complex - featuring 170 flats and a four-storey underground car park - 'ill-conceived' and urging St Albans District Council to re-think the brief.

A statement issued by CABE's design review panel read: 'We cannot support this proposal. We think the development does little to create or reinforce the local distinctiveness of St Albans and has not respected the scale and form of the surrounding area.'

It went on to say: 'We suspect that this ill-conceived design is largely the result of an inappropriate brief which has resulted in an overbearing development with an excessive level of parking. We recommend -a development that is more in keeping with its surroundings and the aspirations of St Albans.'

Brickett Road - earmarked for a plot owned by the city council - has been buffeted by controversy since Benoy first unveiled its design. The project has endured the ignominy of being withdrawn from planning and has been branded 'monstrous' and 'grossly out of scale' by the St Albans Civic Society (SACS).

SACS' trustees are so horrified by Benoy's scheme that they have commissioned Manser Medal-winning architect Cezary Bednarski to devise an alternative solution. The architect has proposed a two-screen extension atop an existing three-storey car park.

Benoy was unavailable for comment.

by Clive Walker

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