In days when art mattered in Worthing

From an anguished former conservation officer for Worthing re the application for planning approval for the demolition of all that I worked for in dear old Worthing.

I refer to the plans for a demolition of the Montague Shopping Centre. This is an awful proposal.

Graham Excell (RIBA), Humphrey Avon and myself were awarded West Sussex County Council commendations for completing this scheme 24 years ago and we had a local ceremony at its opening which Elizabeth Frink herself attended.

It was a marvellous event in Worthing when art was more important than money.

We (Humphrey, Graham and myself) constructed this development at a time when art mattered. We used the best materials throughout, we pondered everything.

The bricks, a pleasant colour associated with Worthing, came from abroad, the pavers were the best available, we worked around the three trees and we constructed the canopy of permanent materials so that the tatters of wear were so inconsequential they are as good now as they were then.

We bent backwards to save the three trees and to accommodate Laura Ashley (who we thought then should be represented in Worthing and have a central position).

We got Elizabeth Frink who did the font in Coventry‘s new cathedral by Basil Spence, who also did Brighton University.

Finally, we managed to squeeze in replicas of the heads under the arches and the Frink heads above a colonnade of columns which were Doric in character and without base moulds. The Frink heads are now listed thanks to the Worthing Society.

I object to the loss of the trees, the loss of Laura Ashley and the debased replacement of the permanent canopy. I consider the whole proposal a loss for Worthing of artwork which should be prized.

Eric Cockain

Meadow Court

Bridge Street