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Protest forces redesign for Findlay's Hastings 'slug'

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Ushida Findlay has gone back to the drawing board with its radical design (pictured) for the rundown East Sussex seaside town of Hastings.

In response to a storm of protest from local fishermen and townspeople, the council has called for a reworking of the Stade Maritime Landmark - the futuristic visitor centre that critics have nicknamed 'the slug'. The practice released its show-stopping proposals last July (AJ 18.7.02).

But the plans, which aim to raise Hasting's profile and stimulate tourism, have sparked heated debate within the town. In a poll by local newspaper the Hastings Observer 3,500 people from a survey of 4,622 said they opposed the building.

Critics have objected to its location - on a central site between the winding lanes of the Old Town and the beach - its size and unusual shape, and the scheme's rising costs. The council's budget has risen from £3 million, when the design was first unveiled, to latest estimates of £4-£5 million.

The town's fishermen, who claim to have historic rights over the site, are opposed to any structure there at all. 'We totally object to any building of that magnitude on that site.' said Paul Joy, chairman of The Fishermen's Protection Society. 'It would be a massive loss for the industry to lose that ground where we pull in our nets.'

Joy added: 'They're trying to put something from outer space in a historic place. It would look better somewhere far away, like in Disneyland.'

The council has instructed Ushida Findlay to scale down and re-orient the scheme in order to address some of these criticisms. However, Kevin Boorman, head of tourism and public relations at Hastings council, stressed that the authority remained committed to the principles behind the building. He said the council was looking at ways of raising the additional £1-£2 million it will need to complete the project. Revised designs will be presented for public consultation in early summer.

Ushida Findlay's Rosalind Pajakowska said she was confident the changes being implemented would satisfy most objectors.

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