We think that in choosing the Latham scheme, the public have voted for one of the two shortlisted projects which most nearly meet the AVBC brief for the replacement of the Tea Rooms, the other being the design by Letts Wheeler.
The Latham proposal is a high quality, elegant design strongly evoking and cleverly reinterpreting the original building whilst providing an attractive modern venue which would serve the River Gardens well and stand in simple outline against the backcloth of the mills.
This scheme is much more likely to be acceptable to English Heritage than the bulky and awkward proposal from McNeill Beechy O’Neil, chosen by the two councillors on the (very small) three-person selection panel. We consider this to be a self-evidently poor design bearing no relationship to the original Tea Rooms building in either form or spirit.
If there are practical issues with the Latham scheme (which is likely as there were practical issues with the original building) we would suggest that the council declares this architect the winner and then works with them to make any adaptations necessary to achieve what is required – a practice frequently followed with architectural competitions.
It is not until the architect has the opportunity to meet with the client (and other interested parties) to work through ideas together, that all the elements of the design are resolved.
We strongly urge the council to go with the public’s choice on this matter and make a popular decision in favour of the Latham design.
Belper Civic Forum