Concern at conversion of Worthing offices into flats

Worthing Council has been asked to write to the government to call for a change in planning rules.

Former EDF site in Worthing, Southdownview Road which could be converted into flats (photo from Google Maps Street View)
Former EDF site in Worthing, Southdownview Road which could be converted into flats (photo from Google Maps Street View)

Under permitted development rights (PDR), no planning permission is needed to convert offices into homes – and concerns have been raised that this reduces the number of affordable homes the authority is able to deliver.

In a notice of motion due to be tabled at the town hall next Tuesday, Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said that because developers could ‘avoid the full planning process’, councils such as Worthing could not secure the usual contributions towards affordable housing.

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Mr Deen was also concerned that PDRs affected the council’s ability to balance the amount of housing and employment properties in the town.

He also pointed out that the council could not ensure the expected quality standards were being met on the new homes.

The notice, which was seconded by Rebecca Cooper (Lab, Marine) took the form of a letter to James Brokenshire, secretary of state for communities and local government.

It said: “Across the country, the Local Government Association calculates that, over the last three years, more than 10,000 affordable homes have been lost as a result of these PDRs.

“We appreciate the need to find ways of accelerating the rate of house building, but we consider this change has resulted in possibly unforeseen, and certainly undesirable, effects.

“We urge the minister to withdraw these PDRs and to focus on enabling us to deliver the affordable, high quality homes we want to provide in Worthing to meet our housing need.”

The meeting will be held in the town hall, in Chapel Road, from 6.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend.