5/6 Western Road

"The work itself is an improvement. It will look nicer, not worse, when it is done." So said the legal representative of Mehrvad Nikkah-Eshgi, the owner of 5/6 Western Road.

Think about how many dilapidated buildings there are on the Sussex coast in need of renovation. Of the many that spring to mind, some are in an appalling state. Of these, think of their potential. To define if a particular development is worthy of considered support, should the test be whether or not the building is "nicer" afterwards? Running west to east from Palmeira Square to Churchill Square, Western Road (which in fact took its name from the wealthy land-owning Western family)  has many buildings that could do with tidying – and most are historic.

5/6 Western Road, in the heart of the Brunswick Town Conservation Area Area, is an excellent case in point. Nikkah-Eshgi demolished a large part of the highly visible structure and rebuilt it badly in a clumsy take on a historic style without planning permission. A wide public right of way leading to Farman Street – winner of the "Most Florally Attractive Street" section of the City in Bloom competition – was cut in half so that a ramp could be shoved in to provide a new access point. The battle began in 2001 when permission was granted for a nightclub with flats above. Various retrospective applications for the unauthorised works were then turned down along with, more recently, an appeal against Brighton & Hove City Council’s order to pull the monstrosity down.

It wasn’t that long ago that a different battle took place on Western Road – this time on its western tip. Tesco, of course, famously lost a set of irreplaceable Art Deco windows and swapped them for the firm’s square blue standards. Eventually, these were painted in a similar colour to the originals which was somehow seen as an acceptable compromise. It is for this exact reason that anybody who cares about the Connaught Centre on Connaught Road should stay vigilant. It’s directly behind Spaceship Tesco on Church Road and development plans have been raised.

5/6 Western Road is now on the market with a price reflecting its poor state. Any potential purchaser looking to take on the project would do well to remember that "nicer" is not the test. If the built environment is to stay great, only the most outstanding changes should be accepted