Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

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Margate CAAG Comments on Arlington House Proposal

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Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group official comments on proposal ref: F/TH/10/1061 to erect a 7500m2 superstore and external alterations to Arlington House will come before the Planning Committee on the 15th of June 2011 at 7pm. The outline plans are viewable at  enter the reference F/TH/10/1061 .
Arlington Tower
Arlington Tower is one of Margate’s most significant  non designated assets. It is historically significant and an iconic example of Brutalist architecture.

The proposed UPVC windows are chunky and inappropriate. The profile of the windows that open is much wider than the fixed glazing. This is aesthetically unpleasant and detracts from the character of the building.

The computer visualisation, which showing what the windows would look like, is misleading, and therefore unacceptable. It does not match the plans and should be re-done to reflect the actual proposal.
The proposed windows are a poor solution compared to the high quality original windows.
A high quality solution with slim profile frames and no difference between fixed glazing and windows that open should be proposed. They shouldn’t look worse than the original windows.
Tinted glazing and UPVC framing would be out of keeping with the distinctive Brutalist style and period of architecture.

The new proposal without the dark metal sills is in keeping with the original design.

Concrete Treatment
The treatment to the concrete appears to be successful.

The brilliant white will make Arlington Tower stand out more than it does at present.The contrast between the horizontal fenestration and concrete is a fine balance. If the glass were to be tinted, the vertical wave rhythm on the facade could be dominated by black and white horizontal strips of concrete and glazing.The proposed UPVC windows intervalled by the chunky opening windows is an unwelcome downgrade to the appearance of the tower.

Top Canopy
The whole top canopy seems overbearing and out of place.
The structure proposed to hide the ariels and structures randomly placed on the roof detracts more from the building than the ariels themselves.

The proposed lighting of the new top canopy is reminiscent of “1980’s Los  Angeles”  or a “Ford Fiesta with UV lights underneath and a big tail fin welded on the back”. The vertical strip of light facing the sea could be an interesting addition.

The lobby/atrium would be problematic is non residents were able to enter the communal areas, especially if there was no longer a concierge. If the 1st floor were to be occupied by a doctor’s surgery, would the patients be able to enter the tower?

Retail Units (at the base of Arlington Tower)
This is designed as a single unit with 2 doors. The suggested use is “Doctor’s surgery” but as the NHS is not interested, we need to consider this on it’s merit as a generic retail space.

We know from precedents in Margate that there is little demand for large retail space. The unit could be divided into smaller units. Each would require signage and an entrance – there is no space or specification for signage in this proposal.
Signage needs to be defined as a unified feature , such as a signage fascia, to avoid the disgraceful random un-enforced traincrash of signage we have on the seafront. The proposal is for a clear glazed “active shopfront” This needs to be enforced with planning conditions to avoid it becoming a vinyl print patchwork and make sure that we don’t see the backs of fridges or shelves, as happens in many retail spaces.

Mezzanine (The floor between the retail level and the residential tower)
Will setting back the retail units expose the mezzanine level with it’s ugly windows?
Building Adjacent to D- scale/mass. This is “massive”. It needs to be reduced in hight or stepped down toward the corner to allow for better views to and from the station and to maintain the slender vertical thrust of the tower.

The front elevation of the proposal has no architectural merit. It seems to have no relation with anything around it: The iconic Arlington tower, Grade II* Listed Dreamland Cinema, the Grade II Listed Station, the Grade II Georgian buildings of Buenos Aires terrace… Even the plan shape with the cut-off corner seems to be unfitting to end what was once a georgian terrace.
The bulk of this part of the proposal changes the relationship between tower and surrounding skyline. The slender tower appears embedded in a massive bulky building. this detracts from the  appearance of the iconic and historic landmark non designated asset that is Arlington Tower.
The proposal also detracts from the views between station and seafront, impacting on Turner/Droit House/beach and the Marine Drive skyline- especially the relationship with the Grade II listed Dreamland Cinema, which, once a statement, now appears dwarfed by this non-descript proposal.

Facade (station side)
The signage is massive. It is out of scale for an urban street setting, surrounded by Listed and non designated assets and one of the country’s best views.

The scale of the signage is more suitable for an out of town retail park, designed to be seen from a motorway from fast moving vehicles than a town street.
Signage needs to be determined and conditions imposed. It is to big a feature to leave it as a 50 meter long advertising hoarding.
The scale of the superstore The slogan on the facade is an incredibly overbearing corporate presence on the streetscape.
If the facade cannot stand on it’s own without a slogan, then it should be made more architecturally interesting.
The relationship between the retail unit and the approved housing opposite (planning application F/TH/09/1041) needs to be considered. We have not seen a section showing this.
Essentially we are building a new street in Margate and it needs to be considered as such.
What effects such as light pollution and overlooking will the proposed retail building have on the living conditions of the approved dwellings opposite?

Facade (Dreamland side)
The proposal of metal panels painted in a patchwork of different bright colours is an absolute blight on a gigantic scale. The kind of decorated facades  seen in 1960’s Eastern block countries.The concept of Dreamland is that of vintage rides in a park, or pleasure garden.What would help is a living wall. That would be beautiful, sustainable and ad some green to this mass of concrete.

Why not a green roof?
The roof is massive. We already have a massive asphalt carpark, a big concrete building. In Google earth this part of Margate is a massive nature free area.
Why not give something to soften the views from above and create an environment welcoming to wildlife and pleasing to the eye.

Impact on Seafront Public Realm
The impact of traffic on the seafront will be detrimental to the regeneration aims of the town.
The heavy loads of traffic the applicant says the superstore will attract will create a barrier of noise, air pollution and safety issues between town and sea. This will be unpleasant for residents and for visitors who we are supposed to be encouraging to walk from the station to the old town and Turner Gallery.


Written by Louise

June 10, 2011 at 18:31

A plan for Arlington

with 25 comments

Article and pictures copyright Sam Causer Studio 2011.

The Vision

Russell Diplock’s 1960s vision for Arlington Square united beach, cars, shopping and living to create a civic space with pride and optimism. There were some negative aspects which need to be put right and the space has been treated badly.


Arlington Square fenced off, shops closed down.
Margate visitors can’t access the car park.
No way in to Arlington House from the square.
Result: Dereliction.

Step 1:
Clean and refurbish Arlington House

Step 2:
Re-use, adapt and clean existing concrete structures.
Retain roof-top carpark for Arlington House residents and Margate visitors.
New, locally sized supermarket with entrance off Arlington Square.
New lifts and stairs to rooftop parking from Arlington Square.

Step 3:
Provide direct access from carpark to beach via public retail space.
Refurbish and extend retail units for mix of shops and cafes.
Create garden terrace for Arlington House residents over parade of shops.
Install Canopies for rain and sun protection.
Result: Local economy, active townscape, visitor amenities, social cohesion.


It has been done before

Brunswick Centre , London 2005

Brunswick Centre, London today

This article is available as a PDF.

The outline planning application F/TH/10/1061 to erect a 7500m2 superstore and external alterations to Arlington House will come before the Planning Committee on the 15th of June 2011 at 7pm. The outline plans are viewable at  enter the reference F/TH/10/1061 .

Written by Louise

June 7, 2011 at 13:50