More than 70 objections, including from artist Tracey Emin and the Twentieth Century Society, have been lodged over plans to replace sliding windows at Arlington House with tilt and turn models.
The proposal has provoked anger that it will “destroy the architectural character of (the tower block) and prevent future generations from appreciating its fine qualities.”
The application has been made by property leaseholders Freshwater who say, “the replacement window scheme should have a positive impact on the neighbours and areas as a whole.”
Freshwater adds that the window replacements are “part of a wider repair and refurbishment scheme which, when completed, will help restore the prominent landmark building.”
But dozens of objections say the style of window will ruin the outside façade of the 1960s block and reduce views of the coast from inside.
Arlington House was designed by architect Russell Diplock, who also designed the Brighton Centre and nearby Churchill Square. The Brutalist block was opened in December 1963.
‘Lazy and clumsy’
Thanet heritage expert Nick Dermott has branded the plan “lazy and clumsy,” adding: “Four elements are key to the building’s striking appearance- its height, its wave-like projecting bay windows, the use of white pre-cast concrete stall riser panels and its continuous strips of aluminium horizontally sliding sashes (windows).
“The (windows) are highly sophisticated in their thinness of frame section, their avoidance of the use of sills and their internal draft baffles. Externally the strip windows give the building a floating appearance which belies its unusual bulk and internally they enable uninterrupted views of the sea, sky and beach. The high quality original windows, now 60 years old, were carefully considered by the architect and are essential to the building’s architectural character.
“No such sophistication of architectural design has been applied to the current proposals.”
‘Left to wrack and ruin’
Artist Tracey Emin is one of the flat owners to object. She said: “Arlington House is a historic building in Margate, at the time of its construction Margate was booming and it was an emblem of the future.
“In the last few decades it’s been left to go to wrack and ruin without care or respect for its monumental brutalist architecture.
“If this building were in any European town or city it would have been protected from the beginning. It should be listed and renovated back to its original beauty. #
“The present owners Freshwater understood this responsibility when taking on this building, they cannot get away with replacing the original windows with cheap, badly styled inappropriate windows.
“As a flat owner in Arlington House I’m totally opposed to their proposal. In short these are the wrong windows for this building.”
Residents association A Better Arlington has also objected and raised some technical ‘errors’ with the application. ABA also says a pair of protected falcons are nesting on the roof parapet and works would disturb them.
Other concerns are the tilt and turn windows will not have the strength to withstand weather conditions and there is anger that flat owners in the block will incur the costs of installation when they are opposed to the design. There are also complaints of a change to plans since original consultation and a lack of information given to flat residents.
‘Serious heritage concerns’
The Twentieth Century Society has also registered an objection, saying: “The applicant proposes to replace the single-glazed anodised aluminium sliding windows at Arlington House with double-glazed anodised aluminium tilt and turn windows. Crittall windows in other areas would also be replaced.
“The proposed replacement of the windows would result in the loss of a considerable amount of original fabric, and their replacement with thicker double-glazed units and windows with different opening movements would change the appearance and character of the elevations.
“We appreciate the desire to improve the building’s environmental performance but question the approach taken. The applicant does not appear to have considered other less harmful options to full replacement with double-glazed units, such as the installation of secondary glazing which we understand has already been installed in several flats (although the application makes no mention of this).
“No evidence has also been provided to substantiate the claim that there are no sliding double-glazed windows available that comply with regulations, which we question. Furthermore, we are concerned that, because of the mixed ownership of the flats-some being held by individual owners, others by Freshwater-that the scheme could result in only partial window replacement which would seriously erode the uniformity and character of the elevations.
“The Society has serious heritage concerns about the proposed window replacement. We request that the application is withdrawn or refused and the scheme revised with greater consideration for the site’s heritage and more consultation with stakeholders.”
The application is yet to be decided and can be found on the Thanet council planning portal, reference F/TH/23/0713
The plan to build Arlington House was at a press conference in March 1961.
The proposal was for a 200ft tower block sitting above a podium containing restaurants, bars and 50 shops. The podium continued beyond the shops as a 400-space car park, a bus station, lavatories, ticket office, waiting room and filling station. It also included a rooftop garden, theatre, restaurant and swimming pool, but only the restaurant was executed.
Every floor of the 18 storey residential block has four flats on either side of a central corridor with an escape stair at each end. There are a total of 142 flats.
The cranked glazing to the east and west elevations allow each flat to have a direct view of Margate Sands.
Internally, there is a Carrara marble and teak entrance lobby and concierge lodge.
The freehold of the site has always been owned by Thanet District Council. On 31 March 1969 Bernard Sunley Investments (Margate) Ltd sold the head lease to Metropolitan Property Realizations.
A fatal fire and explosion on the 16th floor in 2001 led to the gas supply being disconnected.
In 2011, an application was made to English Heritage to have the development listed but it was declined
Additional Arlington House details with thanks to Nick Dermott