Demolition of the former Sussex Clinic, a 40-bed residential care home in Shelley Road, is already underway.
South Coast Nursing Homes, which runs Berkeley Lodge immediately to the east, wants to build a 50-bed replacement care home in its place.
The company’s proposals were approved by Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday night (February 26).
The proposed buildings would be attached to Berkeley Lodge by a single-storey glazed corridor at the front and a linking structure from the rear wing.
The main concern voiced by residents and councillors was the loss of mature trees to the rear of the site, although significant replanting is proposed.
Officers explained that the site already had planning permission from 2017 for a replacement care home and this could be implemented if the current scheme was refused.
They also felt the current designs were an improvement on the 2017 application.
Nearby residents called the existing trees on site a ‘valuable habitat’ and a ‘haven’ for wildlife.
Objectors argued that new trees would not provide the same benefits as the mature trees for decades and pointed towards the council’s declaration of a climate emergency as a reason the plans should be refused.
Architect Michael Pirrie described how the current trees had been poorly maintained, with new planting to ‘create a much more enhanced ecological environment’.
He described how the new facilities would be modern and more like a hotel than a residential care home, with new technology and better internal spaces.
Meanwhile applicant Patrick Colville said the gardens would be designed by landscape experts.
He added: “We believe what we are trying to do will be an architectural and horticultural joy for the people who are living on that site. It won’t be an environmental disaster, it will be an environmental delight.”
Councillors all voiced concerns about the loss of trees and questioned if the replacement planting would be enough.
Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) said: “On the environment I do not think it’s good enough and I think we should set a better example in view of our climate change commitments.”
But committee vice-chairman Noel Atkins (Con, Salvington) said: “It’s important to have a care home built and these trees will be replaced with new trees. I see no reason not to support this application.”
Meanwhile Paul High (Con, Heene), chairman of the planning committee, said: “If we dismiss this tonight we have not got any tools to make sure that environment is kept safe.”
After a lengthy discussion with officers, councillors approved the application by six votes to two with a strengthened condition requiring a detailed landscape phasing plan for tree removal and replanting before development starts on site.
Paul Baker (Con, Broadwater) said: “I’m encouraged by the fact we can put stringent conditions in place for these environmental issues with the trees.”