A JEWEL in the crown of Bognor Regis is facing demolition.
Belmont Lodge can be replaced by a block of flats in spite of its link with a famous artist and its Regency style appearance.
The current garage and storage shed of the building was used by Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the 1870s.
Councillors reluctantly voted 9-4, with one abstention, to permit the loss of the building in line with an approval granted three years ago.
Cllr Ann Smee (C, Bersted) said the building was in the style of architect John Nash who designed the Brighton Pavilion.
“Belmont Lodge is one of the last jewels in the crown of Bognor left,” she said. “It’s a very attractive building.”
Cllr Elaine Stainton (C, Felpham W) said: “It is going to be a very sad day if that building is going to be absolutely ruined.
“I’ve lived in Bognor all my life and seen all these lovely Victorian and Edwardian buildings being pulled down.
“This is just one part of Bognor’s history. It’s a very attractive building. I want to try and save it. I really think its facade needs to stay.”
Cllr Barbara Oakley (C, Middleton) said: “We have so many ugly buildings in Bognor it seems a shame to lose one of the ones which is good to look at.
“I have no objection to the change of use from offices to residential. But I do object to losing the appearance of the outside of the building. It is elegant, graceful and an asset to Bognor.”
Cllr Simon McDougall (I, Bersted) said: “The street scene in that road is very much that building. If you take that away, you take the street scene with it.”
Councillors said the building should count as part of Bognor’s heritage under the latest planning rules in spite of it being refused by government for listing in 2010 and not being considered a building of special character.
Cllr Andrew Evans (C, Marine) said the committee had debated the matter twice in mid-2011. “No-one is happy to see the loss of this building. But we allowed it more than three years ago. I can’t see how we can make a different decision this time because nothing has changed,” he said.
Bognor council also protested about the plan