MORE than 1500 people have signed the ‘Don’t demolish Eastbourne’s 1925 TJ Hughes department store’ petition.

It reads: “We, the Eastbourne Society, want to save the 1925 former TJ Hughes building on Terminus Road from demolition. Under a current planning application the owner, the Rachel Trust, is looking to completely demolish the building and replace it with a mixed-use faceless modern block. The proposals call this block ‘Burlington Corner’ but it belongs in an Anywheres Ville clone town and is utterly disregarding of the character and heritage of Eastbourne that the name implies. The Council’s target decision date is 9th February 2022 – we must act now.

We ask Eastbourne Borough Council to refuse these proposals. We ask the Rachel Trust with developers Capreon to rethink their plans. We ask them to protect the unique and special character of Eastbourne we inherited from the Duke of Devonshire.

We support the principle of a comprehensive mixed-use regeneration of the site but NOT the also-ran, off-the-peg architecture. The iconic corner building MUST stay. Designed by P D Stonham – one of the leading architects of the day who ran his business in Eastbourne – this building is a landmark in the Seafront Conservation Area (which was deliberately extended around this building to give it extra protection) and contributes hugely to our town centre’s identity.

In the ’20s and ’30s, there were daily afternoon tea dances in the top floor restaurant with its beautiful dome and maple floor; this still exists and must be retained. During WWII the building was used for making parachutes; it didn’t survive the town’s bombing only to be torn down for this co-called ‘transformation’.

Whilst there is a real opportunity to be creative here, this plan, if accepted, will go a long way towards destroying the unique character of our town centre. The word ‘beautiful’ has been reintroduced to the planning system as the new Office for Place empowers local communities to ‘Ask for Beauty and Refuse Ugliness’. We refuse this ugliness. Beautiful Eastbourne demands better. These plans must be stopped.”