Centre’s designs sent back to the drawing board

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PLANS for a ‘ludicrous’ canopy extension at the entrance to Southwick Community Centre have been sent back to the drawing board following the latest Adur planning meeting.

The design came under fire from planning-committee members, some of whom were unhappy with the choice of material – polycarbonate – a transparent plastic often used for conservatories.

Despite officers recommending approval, the plans were deferred, pending more information.

It was reported that the Adur Conservation Advisory Group considered the design ‘inappropriate, unnecessary and out of character with the building’, which falls within the Southwick conservation area.

Cllr David Donaldson said it was important to maintain the character of the building, adding that he could hardly think of a worse material to use than polycarbonate.

“This is pretty ludicrous and absolutely nothing in character with the building whatsoever,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cllr Peter Metcalfe said the centre was the ‘jewel in the crown of Southwick’ and that he liked the design as it gave the building’s entrance ‘the presence it needed’.

“It does need a nice canopy to show where the entrance is and smarten it up as well,” he said.

Cllr Brian Coomber said he did not believe the design needed to be ‘totally in sympathy’ with the original building.

“This part of the building is not historic, other than the fact that it is 40 years old, “ he said.

“I have no objections to this whatsoever.”

Cllr Carol Albury said while she did not object to the plan in principle, she was concerned at the use of transparent polycarbonate.

“Is there not going to be some sort of sap that is going to discolour it over time and make it look awful and completely unattractive?” she asked.

Once she discovered the roof would be made of plastic, Cllr Emma Evans withdrew her support.

“It’s such an important building for Southwick, it would be a shame to get it wrong and stick any old conservatory on the side,” she said.

“We don’t want to revisit mistakes of the past.”

Controversial plans to chop down a well-established lime tree to make way for the canopy were shelved following opposition from residents and the council.

Instead a tree-preservation order was served to protect the ‘healthy specimen’.

“We are satisfied that we can retain the tree through careful design,” said executive head of planning James Appleton.