The developer, McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd, intends to start on site ‘in six months’ after Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee approved its plans.
The Horton Buildings, on Goring Street, near the railway station, will now be demolished and replaced with 17 one-bed and 18 two-bed retirement living apartments.
These will provide housing for the over 60s with a resident lounge, guest suite, shared garden, and 27 parking spaces.
McCarthy & Stone will pay the council £371,000 in lieu of providing affordable housing at the development.
Council officers said that the amount would usually be closer to £500,000 but – having looked at the viability of the scheme and applying vacant building credit – they were satisfied at the final sum.
Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) asked why there were no developer contributions for open space in the borough.
Officers said this was down to viability and because they felt that the ‘lion’s share’ of developer contributions – also known as section 106 money – should be spent on affordable housing.
Some residents and the Goring and Ilex Conservation Group objected to the proposals due to the height of the buildings and a design that the group called ‘formulaic and bland’.
But several letters of support were also received which say the housing is ‘much-needed’.
Planning officers noted the loss of employment space but said there was limited interest from both businesses and developers when the site was marketed.
Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said that testing the market during the pandemic ‘may not have provided the best of evidence’.
But officers said the site ‘doesn’t lend itself to alternative employment uses’ adding that brownfield redevelopment ‘is very costly’ and may have limited returns.
Karen Harman (Con, Castle) said: “Should this be built, there will be employment opportunities looking after the people – it has opportunities for future employment.”
At present, McCarthy & Stone only intends to have a site manager as residents would require ‘limited support’.
A spokesperson for the developer said: “The development will provide a satisfactory standard of accommodation for future occupiers whilst avoiding any unacceptable neighbour impact.
“The proposal will also meet local specialist housing need, as acknowledged in the Local Plan.
“It is intended to be on site in six months or so and certainly within the year.”
More details can be found at the Worthing planning portal using reference: AWDM/0833/21.