The developer behind the controversial Bricket Road cinema, restaurant and apartment project in St Albans, Hertfordshire, has kicked off architect Benoy.
Henry Davidson Developments (HDD) has now turned to Hawkins\Brown to come up with new plans for the city centre site, in yet another bid to squeeze the £40 million proposals past the planners.
Benoy’s original 12-storey twin-tower scheme was thrust into the media limelight earlier this year after the St Albans Civic Society (SACS) launched a high-profile campaign to stop the plans, branding the scheme ‘monstrous’ and ‘grossly out of scale’.
The group even enlisted Manser Medal-winner Cezary Bednarski to come up with an alternative low-rise concept featuring a two-screen cinema on top of a three storey car park (AJ 15/2/07).
Benoy had wanted to build a seven-screen moviedrome, 172 flats and a four-storey underground car park, and made two stabs at persuading the local council, English Heritage and the civic society to accept the plans before the developer eventually decided to ditch the practice.
Although Hawkins\Brown's new proposals will not be officially unveiled until early next year, it is understood the scheme will be significantly scaled-back, with early reports suggesting the number of flats will be reduced to 120. This has been made possible, the developers claim, because St Albans Council’s brief for of the site has changed.
HDD associate director Andy Radford said: ‘One of the key challenges with the previous scheme was that the council’s brief for provision of a cinema complex made providing a development which was acceptable in terms of its scale to the people ofSt Albansan extremely difficult task.