Conversion of closed Littlehampton bank branch is approved

A Littlehampton bank can now be turned into a 23 bed house in multiple occupation (HMO) after planners approved the proposals.

The former Barclays branch, 71 High Street, closed its doors in June 2021 when customer numbers fell to less than 100.

The building will be extended to provide 23 bedrooms with space for four shops on the ground floor.

Rooms will have private bathrooms, storage space, and access to a communal terrace but there will be no parking.

The now closed Barclays branch in Littlehampton. Pic: Google

Arun district councillors approved the scheme during a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (July 20).

But some did so reluctantly as there have been rising concerns about the number of HMOs in the town.

Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) said: “I don’t regard this as a HMO - it’s a hostel.”

Committee vice-chair David Edwards (Con, Felpham East) said it would be a ‘massive improvement on the street scene’ but that was the only positive he could find.

Billy Blanchard-Cooper (LDem, Brookfield) raised concerns about a lack of disabled access to the shops but planning officers said this would be picked up by the building control department as it is a legal requirement.

Alex Bateman, director of planning at Mohsin Cooper Architects, spoke to support the scheme.

“Taking a step back, this is a brownfield site in the centre of Littlehampton in an incredibly sustainable location,” he said, “It is sites like these that planning policy at all levels would encourage for intensification.”

Mr Bateman said the proposals were ‘well considered’ and explained that the town centre location would make car parking ‘unsuitable and unsafe’.

He said 42 cycle spaces would be provided by the developer.

Littlehampton Town Council objected to the plans, citing overdevelopment and a lack of parking, but it welcomed new commercial units.

The Littlehampton Society and four members of the public also objected.

The council conservation officer raised concerns about the extension as the site is close to listed buildings and East Street Conservation Area.

They concluded that any harm would be outweighed by the new homes and businesses.

More details can be found on the council’s planning portal using the reference: LU/382/21/PL.