Lancing Beach Building

The Eco Open Houses event has become a well-established fixture in the Brighton & Hove architectural calendar. 2014 sees the addition of trails in both Worthing and Steyning.

Lancing Beach is the setting for the first building on the Worthing trail. The large structure is known by most people in Lancing as the ‘big unfinished building on the beach’. At 15,000sqft, it is immense. With an unrivalled position just metres from the sea, and serious bulk, it is so important that this building turns out well.

Things certainly seem to be ticking along nicely now, since father and son team John and Alex Hole got involved, but the original restaurant project dating from 2007 went badly wrong. A pub, arcade and bungalow on the site had been demolished to make way for a large restaurant but the owners went bust after running into planning trouble. The Holes purchased the shell of that scheme in a Parsons Son & Basley auction in December 2011.

A driveway leads from the main coast road to the beach building. At a glance, not much has changed. The building which is there now does look like, well, a shell. But it’s a very different shell to the one that was there before! Respected eco-architect Bill Dunster from ZEDFactory has been employed to design an updated scheme with a long list of environmentally-friendly features including an array of around 230 solar panels on the roof. And so it should. The Holes run a solar panel installation business after all. At 37kW, that’s enough to power around ten houses. It has all of the usual features too such as masses of (recycled) insulation, a heat pump and efficient glazing.

A completely new zinc roof has been added in the shape of a wave. The building divides into seven bays, each separated by a stone-clad pillar, across two storeys. Upstairs will consist of three flats and a micro-hotel sharing a large balcony looking out to sea. Downstairs – on the beach – will be a café alongside a watersports centre. This is entirely logical given Lancing’s kitesurfing heritage, which I knew nothing about until I visited.

There are eleven houses on the Worthing trail which is to take place on the weekend of 12th/13th April and four on the Steyning trail which will be held on Sunday 27th April. As always, the event is completely free. See www.ecoopenhouses.org for details.

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