At a special cabinet meeting of Arun District Council held on Thursday, councillors unanimously agreed to allow a company to rent the whole building, but only turn the ground floor into a café, restaurant or bar.
After the meeting, Terry Ellis, from North Ham Road, Littlehampton, said he would approach the council’s chief executive, Nigel Lynn, to find out who the tenant was. His aim was to ask them if they would work with residents to turn the upper floors into a maritime museum.
Reacting to the decision, Terry said it was a ‘positive move’ that would get the languishing building open for the summer, allowing the tenants to refurbish it further in the quieter winter period.
He said: “We have to remain positive about this. It would have been nice had Arun been community-minded and retained the upper floors and allowed them to be used for and by the community; for example the Littlehampton maritime heritage museum.”
Robert Senft from Maltravers Drive, Littlehampton, runs the Look & Sea Rescue Facebook page.
He said: “I think it would have been far better for the council to give the new owners a lease just for the ground floor, and take it upon themselves to find a company or outfit for the rest. They have made it a burden to the new leaseholders.”
The meeting heard how all the offers the council received were just to use the ground floor.
Council leader Gill Brown said: “It is really important that we get something open this season. It was a great shock when we lost that facility.”