VOTE: Do you think flats proposed next to Chichester’s new museum will be detrimental to the character of the conservation area?

A three-storey apartment block proposed for a site next to Chichester’s new multi-million pound museum has been slammed by critics – from the city council.

The new development, to be sited just yards from the cathedral, will look like a building from 1950s Russia if it goes ahead, it has been claimed.

The development is planned by the district council and aimed at offsetting some of the cost of the controversial museum, called the Novium, with all 26 flats set to be sold on the open market.

A renewal of planning consent which the district granted in 2009 is being sought, but it ran into fierce opposition last week at a meeting of the city council’s planning and conservation committee, which is calling for it to be thrown out. A final decision will be made by the district itself.

The committee, which also objected to the original application, maintained that because of its bulk, height and site coverage, the block would be an overdevelopment of the street scene.

It said the design was below the standard required for this important site at The Woolstaplers, and the facade would be ‘bland and uninteresting’.

It was also accused of being seriously detrimental to the character of the city conservation area.

Cllr Richard Plowman said: “If you went behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, you would have found very similar buildings being constructed.

“It is very poor in terms of architectural features – it is very tall and bulky.”

He said he felt sorry for people living in the area if they were going to have this block as well as the new museum as their neighbours.

“This will be a very poor advertisement for Chichester,” he declared. “It is bland, and lacks character.”

But Cllr Pam Dignum strongly supported the proposals. She said she liked the design, and felt the building would be an asset to the city.

“This is not really part of the conservation area, it is an exciting new part of the 21st century and we must go for something 21st-century,” she argued, adding she personally found it to be a handsome building.

Cllr Plowman responded this was not 21st-century but 20th-century architecture of the worst type.

It was typical of buildings which ruined city centres in the 1960s.

Cllr Peter Budge said the proposed development reminded him of the nearby telephone exchange, and he agreed that was a horrible building as well.