Fears window replacement plans for Arlington House will ‘destroy architectural character’

Arlington House

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’

Tracey Emin Photo Frank Leppard

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’

Arlington House

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

Arlington House

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

The Brutalist tower block that marked the start of 1960s redevelopment in Margate but was ‘ahead of its time’


  1. What a load of bull, it can only improve the building, and what the hell has it got to do with Tracey Emin ,she may think differently if she lived in the building, it’s in need of a makeover, should have been done years ago.

    • Architectural character? What architectural character is that, it beats me, its an ugly eyesore, and saving demolition nothing can improve it!

  2. I had a friend who used to rent a flat in the building. It is quite an amazing place from the inside and the views are sensational.
    My first question is, “Why?” The windows appear solid, robust and wholly appropriate. They are also – bearing in mind Grenfell – not flammable. Unlike U.P.V.C.
    Secondly, let’s follow the money. Precisely whom does the Freshwater/Daejan group of dozens of companies have earmarked to undertake the work & collect the profits? One of its own partners? I clearly recall all their shenanigans regarding the Arlington Arcade/Tesco proposals. Did you know Daejan’s main offices are in close proximity to London’s law courts.
    Thirdly, who is T.D.C. Planning going to empower as it’s advisor on this? Hopefully not the same firm, which has connections with Daejan/Freshwater that it used during the Arlington Arcade fiasco. Thankfully, the Committee Chair is a different person this time around.
    Lastly. What happens when the windows on the fifteenth floor go wrong? When the mastic/sealant exposed to the North Sea winter gales for a single decade disappears into the ether and every flat becomes a frigid wind tunnel?
    This is a stupid idea. The Public and particularly the leaseholders & tenants need to know who is set to profit from this outrageous proposition.

    • Oh Harry, what a ridiculous diatribe. If the leaseholder owns the company doing the work, so what. And your claim that the company’s head office is near the law courts, who care it’s of no relevance whatsoever. Arlington couldn’t possibly look any worse, and may actually look a little better than it does today, but of course the only way to make it look substantially better is to demolish it

      • The beginning of wisdom is to admit ones own ignorance.

        I work for a company that installs TbT windows. We did laugh so hard when we read this proposal. The very idea.
        As for your personal aesthetic?

  3. For once Pink Peter you have a point. Arlington House does have some interesting features but the sliding windows are not intrinsic to the design.Diplocks rendering of brutalism is inferior to Gold finger’s Trellick Tower and Balfron House.Goldfinger became a Bond villain because Ian Fleming hated him not because he was a bad architect.
    Arlington House is a failure because even in its heyday it could not attract sufficient tenants.Only now with the guff about edgy artistic Margate can it cover it’s costs.
    Why plonk a brutalism copycat building in an art deco setting?
    What should have been built there was either an art deco point block or a modernist building rather like the Hilton in Havana.if anyone has stayed there you will see what I mean.
    As for fires, a broken sliding window was the cause of a fire in the building which is why it is now all electric.
    Grenfell happened because the council,the ALMO and the Govt did not care what happened to poor people and allowed dangerous,cheap materials to be used.
    Poor people still don’t count in our society which is why rich people bleat about tax,while the poor are directed to food banks.

    • Try reading this, a far more comprehensive report on grenfell than the selected parts fed to the public. Lots of failings from the day it was built, never had a wet riser from day one, without which the fire crews had next to no chance of tackiling the fire, no excuses from fire service as for part of the buildings history they were the inspecting authority.


      The fire was way more complicated than the cladding

      As for Arlington never having been able to attract tenants, prior to it twisting in the 1987 storm and TDC wanting shot of it asap , was it not part of TDC’s social housing stock? And as such unlikely to have had a lack of potential tenants. Freshwater preferred to leave many of the flats empty rather than have the bother of updating them for occupation, this only changed when they became liable for the council tax on the empty flats.

      • Lc – you too are spouting nonsense regarding Arlington. Clearly you know little or nothing about the building and are making up stories as you go along.

        The building did not twist in the storm of 1987. TDC did not want shot of it as a result. It had been on a long lease to Freshwater since the 1960s.

        Arlington House has NEVER been part of TDC’s housing stock.

        106 of the flats are on long leases and Freshwater has only retained 36 flats. Some of its flats have always been rented out. More Freshwater flats have been put on the rental market over the last decade since they were refurbished.

        • Then i stand corrected on the information i was given about 8 years ago when some of the flats that had been empty for many years were refurbished. But for clarification are TDC not the freeholders?
          Thanks for the information.

        • Is the wikipaedia entry for Arlington a decent summary of the real position? I should have looked that up years ago if so. Apologies for any misdirection my previous comment may have caused.

      • You only have to look at buildings in America that have outside fire escapes, they seem to be far more advanced on fire safety than the UK

    • Mr Noakes – why are you spouting such total nonsense ?

      Sliding aluminium windows ARE an intrinsic part of Arlington House design. This is an obvious fact to which you have turned your one blind eye.

      And as for your statement that a broken sliding window caused a fire – again you are talking total piffle. The reason the gas was removed was to increase reliance upon electricity usage to facilitate an application by Freshwater to install an additional transformer on site to power the proposed Tesco store but to charge the cost to the residential lessees.

      Please stop publishing fairy stories. Just stick to facts for the future.

      • Dear angry John,why fit aluminium windows in a salt laden atmosphere.
        Many Victorian houses have sash windows but there are now excellent uPVC versions on the market.Before you jump up and down maybe look at what they intend to fit.
        As for aluminium being fire resistant,I think grey funnel line found that wasn’t true in the Falklands.
        It was the wrong building in the wrong place hence it’s doleful legacy.that is not true with Trellick Tower and Balfron house,so no matter how you cut it the building is a lemon.

        Being shouty won’t alter it’s legacy.
        I am not against brutalism in architecture,but there are better examples.
        As for Grenfell, yes, the cladding was not the only problem but it was the immediate cause of the fire and yes the LFB, made the wrong decisions, but the fire at Lackanel house and other places did show quite clearly that there was a problem with cladding of the sort that was fitted.

        • Lakanal was again a fire resulting from defective electrical equipment owned by a tenant. However the main issue regarding failure of fire compartmentation was that as asbestos materials used as fire stopping were removed but no alternate material was put back. At least that is the information that iwas relayed to me, however given the erroneous nature of my understanding in respect of arlington , i again stand to be corrected.

          • Electrical equipment can become defective but it is meant to fail safe.even if it catches fire , the fire should be contained in the compartment,but in the case of Lackanel and Grenfell it spread and crept up the building.the same thing has happened in other countries where the same cladding was used.
            Blaming the tenant for having a defective fridge is unhelpful.would you know when a kitchen appliance was failing? Hopefully it would fail and give off fumes and the electrical supply would trip.but what if you were out?
            Ronan point suffered a catastrophic failure due to a gas explosion,but catastrophe was not due to the explosion which ought to have been contained,but was instead due to poor building control and building practices.
            That building was so unsafe,that it is thought had it not been demolished,the great storm of 1987 might have toppled it.it was only when it was taken apart that they found how poorly constructed it really was.
            Shouty John was suggesting that the gas supply was removed at Arlington for commercial reasons,but Arlington has had its issues.it would be interesting to know how it’s twin in Brighton operates.

          • George , have a read of Dr. Lanes report, the endless list of failings is incredible , some of the more notable

            New windows fitted badly with poor firestopping
            Fans fitted into panels that had no fire resistance
            Firestops designed to close off the gap behind the rain screen in the event of the fire were in some cases found to have been fitted into gaps twice as large than designed, some were installed upside down.
            No wet riser which meant hoses had to be carried up the stair wells, the fire service were unable to take control of the “firemans lift” again making firefighting much more difficult.
            Problems, with doors, alarms and smoke vents.
            Yet in the media just about everything centred on the cladding. There should have been much greater scrutiny into the buildings management by the council and its almo and who made what decisions within those organisations over the years.
            It was never definitively shown that the fridge was the cause of the fire, rather that the seat of the fire was in close proximity.

      • John, that is the filunniest and most ridiculous conspiracy theory of the year, thank you for a genuine belly laugh.

        • No conspiracy theory Mr Wise – as was proven at the Tribunal when it was ruled the lessees were not liable for the cost of the new transformer and power supplies . . .

  4. The building shouldn’t be listed, but looking at the state of it, it may well soon be listing! Perhaps it can become a tourist attraction, just like the leaning pub in the west midlands.

  5. what another load of arty farty twaddle , the only way to improve that building ,like most of thanet would be to flatten it , the whole area is a hotch potch of buildings of different eras and certainly different quality !!!

  6. You only have to take a look at Tracy Emins disgusting bed and ridiculous scribbles to realise that she really does not have much taste or class.

  7. Yes, I can see how new windows would make a huge difference to Arlington house, it would really spoil the architectural master piece that has the appearance of a breeze block stood on end which in over 40 years has been known as a no go zone, much the same as much of margate and Cliftonville. You put put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

  8. Who is paying for this? Leaseholders cannot be made to pay for “Improvements”, only repairs, and maintenance to existing common part structures. My advice is for Leaseholders to check their leases, to see what they say about “Improvements”.

  9. I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but if I have its worth repeating, who is paying for this? Leaseholders cannot be made to pay for “improvements”, only repairs and maintenance to common parts. Best advice for leaseholders is to check your leases to see what their position is on “Improvements”.

  10. Why dont you get the residents of arlington house comments that live with the draft from the windows the rattling when its blowing a gale. Have the worry of chunks of material dropping off the outside of the building.

  11. On a technical point I have 40 years in the glazing industry and tilt turns are wholly unsuitable in a high rise. They open in wards so when subjected to wind the sash is blown away from the frame causing draft, howling and water ingress if raining. Std casement windows open out and are blown even tighter shut in bad weather.

    • . . . and casement windows that open out are more likely to end up in Hartsdown Park if they are attempted to be opened in a high wind or are inadvertently left open and then the wind gets up !

      Hence sliding windows were installed in the first instance and should be replaced with similar.

  12. In 2020 Sivill House a 20 storey 60,s Brutalist block in Tower Hamlets achieved grade 2Listed Status with the support of the 20th Century Society. Like Arlington House the local Authority was the freeholder and like Arlington House an inappropriate window upgrade was proposed which did not respect the design of the building. A successful listing application meant a more suitable window upgrade took place.

    For Ah a number of options exist including TDC agreeing to knowledge AH as a local Heritage Asset, or AH obtaining grade 2 listing Status, providing protections that any window upgrade respected the original design ie anodised aluminium sliding windows in the flats and crittal or similar suitable replacements as appropriate in the other parts of the building

  13. So changing the windows will “destroy the architectural character of (the tower block) and prevent future generations from appreciating its fine qualities.”
    Anyone who believes that ANY Brutalist archictecture has ANY ”fine qualities’ lacks taste.

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