Colourful clifftop landmark faces axe

STEPHEN PULLINGER It is a house that has inspired as many emotions over the years as its vibrant colour changes engineered by a previous flamboyant owner. Now it faces demolition.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It is a house that has inspired as many emotions over the years as the vibrant colour changes engineered by a previous flamboyant owner.

Love it or hate it, the Art Deco-designed home at 69 Marine Parade, Gorleston, has been a striking feature of the seafront since it was built in the 1930s - and was once even glimpsed on a national Volkswagen advert.

Variously painted in outrageous hues it is now a sorry shade of cream and has fallen into a sad state of disrepair.

Lowestoft developer Philip Oldman is proposing to knock it down and replace it with a modern apartment block, billing it as a "building for the 21st century".

However, clifftop residents have rallied behind the house, which had a vital role in the second world war when it was commandeered as a radio listening post, and are expected to turn out in force at a borough planning meeting tomorrow.

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Mr Oldman has downscaled his plans to seven apartments from his original proposal of eight after listening to local concerns.

He said: "The scheme has been designed to reflect 21st century architecture and give special consideration to its location.

"The design has a nautical feel and has many features connected with the sea, including a wave-shaped roof and ocean liner style balcony railings."

He said the house had been on the open market for three years before he bought it and a structural report by a chartered surveyor confirmed it had outlived its habitable life.

"It would cost up to £500,000 to renovate it and you would still be left with an old building with a limited life," he said.

Mr Oldman said the apartments, which would sell for around £250,000, would be marketed at the over 50s.

He said: "We have never received so many letters and phone calls from people wishing to purchase a property before we even receive planning permission."

Tom Harrison, a spokesman for Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage Group, said: "We have tried to get the house listed in the past as it is an iconic presence on the seafront. If it has to be redeveloped it would be nice to at least keep the frontage of the building."

He said residents were also concerned that seven apartments would be an over-intensive development in a quiet area.

It was feared it could set an unwelcome trend in redeveloping other large clifftop properties into flats.

Twenty-six objections to the scheme have been lodged and residents have conducted a leafleting campaign in the area.

Planning officers note Mr Oldman's "interesting modern design" but are recommending councillors to refuse the application because they feel it would represent over-development of the plot.

They also urge the committee to consider the house's local historic importance.