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Brighton skating on thin ice after controversial Black Rock decision

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Brighton Council has come under fire this week after announcing that S&P Architects' plans for an ice rink development have won the competition for its controversial Black Rock site.

Local residents groups and conservationists are furious that the council's planning committee has rejected the other shortlisted scheme, the RH Partnership's proposals for a hotel and spa.

The announcement is set against widespread controversy over the 'competition without a brief ' that pitted two 'incomparable'designs - an ice rink and a hotel spa - against each other (AJ 16.10.03).

The Regency Society and the Kemp Town Society - with the council's former chair of planning Chris Morley, and the RH Partnership - have attacked the decision as 'unrealistic', and the winning designs as 'unimaginative' and 'damaging to the seafront'.

'Every one of the associations and societies around here are opposed to the ice rink, ' Kemp Town Society vice-chair Derek Grainger said.'They are making a gigantic mistake and it feels as if the council really has not thought it through.

'It will be nothing more than a monolithic hulk or a giant B&Q shed, wiping out sea views for whole swathes of Brighton, ' Grainger added.

And Regency Society committee member Duncan McNeill agreed.'There is no doubt in anybody's mind that the hotel is the scheme that should be built. For 11,000 spectators to turn up three times a week would be an absolute disaster, 'he said.

The RH Partnership's project consultant, Paul Adutt, has also joined the chorus of dissent. 'What they are proposing are two massive inward-looking boxes on what is Brighton's biggest asset, the waterfront, ' he said. 'This is Brighton's last great site on the sea that can be developed. It'll be a massive waste.'

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