|Photos © John Freeman|
"I could design that facade and line up the new windows with the existing ones and add new ones where necessary," noted one, "and still keep the original facade present. "This makes a much sense as letting your toddler loose with a felt pen in a art gallery."
"We were thinking of nominating it for one of these bad design awards!" said another on virtual-lancaster's Facebook page. "Who on earth at the council is responsible for allowing it?"
"it's like something out of my big book of Soviet Architecture," commented another, "Although without the imagination."
When planning permission for the development was originally sought, Lancaster Civic Society condemned the design.
"The proposed redevelopment at Victoria Court is unacceptable for a variety of reasons," they argued. "It would be, in simple terms, one storey to high and, consequently, its scale would be thoroughly out of keeping with adjoining development.
"The scheme, given its dull design ,would be unattractive and would have a significant adverse effect on the character and appearance of the conservation area within which it would be located."
The Civic Society recommended that planning permission be refused for what would be a visually intrusive development on a prominent site on an important road in Lancaster City centre. But permission was given.
CityBlock (www.cityblock.co.uk), run by local entrepreneur Trevor Bargh, provides students with quality city centre accommodation in Lancaster and Leicester.
Update: The national Guardian featured a photograph from this story in a blog post by Oliver Wainwright, "Some front: the bad developments making a joke of historic buildings" in August 2014