Brighton and Hove greatly anticipate the re-development of the King Alfred Leisure Centre with the 560 luxury apartments alongside it. Earlier this year, the council teamed up with Crest Nicholson, Rob Starr, and LA architects to draw out plans for a highly modern £200 million development to bring a touch of sophistication to Brighton and Hove.
History vs. Modern
Built in 1939, the King Alfred now stands as a run-down and outdated building, bland and incompatible with the vibrancy of Brighton and Hove. Recent unwanted media attention has highlighted the unhygienic standards and outdated facilities, through no fault of its staff or efforts, but merely by running a 77 year-old building which does not meet the technological standards required to function adequately.
This project is one of Sussex’s most exciting opportunities, and has come with a ten year wait for planning permission, and a long anticipated selection process by the council who appear to have chosen a marvellous trio to carry out design plans. Crest Nicholson specialises in residential projects such as the One Brighton block of flats, Starr Trust support young people through sports, art, and education, and LA Architects are an experienced and reliable group who specialise in leisure centre developments. With a successful track record, the council have wisely selected candidates who have the potential to create something practical, aesthetically appealing, and modern.
So, what can we expect to see from the development?
The new King Alfred accommodates to every demand with four swimming pools, a sauna, a large gym, basketball courts, badminton courts, a martial arts studio, a dance studio, a gymnasium, a playroom, a large car park, and a café and restaurant area. The large scale development plans come with the luxury of a glass façade, creating stunning views of Brighton’s much loved seaside which is also visible from the gym, and surely enough to entice anyone with a gym membership!
Good or bad?
With the sports centre alone costing £40 million, funded by the 560 apartments, and the council contributing £8 million towards the development, such a hefty amount of money requires the approval of Brighton and Hove’s citizens. Public opinion has split in response to the development plans; some have hailed the architects as geniuses, whereas others have responded with far less enthusiasm. Browsing through the internet, some find the plans to unimaginatively resemble office buildings, and others complain the plans aspire to creating a Miami beach sophistication to Brighton and Hove, which is no doubt not conducive to the quirkiness of which Brighton prides itself.
Members of the public are keen to acknowledge the benefits of this project, such as building a large communal area, contributing to Brighton and Hove’s booming tourism, job opportunities, and a clean and safe area for all ages to enjoy themselves. Furthermore, in keeping with Brighton and Hove’s Planning Policy, 20% of the 560 apartments will be affordable housing.
In the end…
Any large and new construction project comes with public anxiety over aesthetics, practicality, cost, and the effects of the building in relation to a given community. The construction industry’s purpose, to re-develop and adapt a given landscape, is what makes this industry so unique. The King Alfred’s vast scale and multi-functional purpose, its ambition to create a leisure facility for the community, and the great amount of time and effort to achieve this architectural design asks the public to challenge this building beyond the confines of personal preference, and to attempt to understand the greater impact of this soon-to-be project as a potential work of art. It is not common for Brighton and Hove to willingly dismantle a fraction of its history, so why not replace it with something controversial and unusual to Brighton’s seaside? The plans for the new King Alfred may not be to everyone’s tastes, but our tastes and preferences are constantly changing and developing, and one day we may all consider the new King Alfred an integral part of Brighton and Hove’s community.
Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.