Worthing borough councillors gave the green light to the improvements during a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (September 22).
This means a new façade in ‘a range of colours’, a mesh safety barrier, windows, a new glass fronted pedestrian entrance, signage and stairwell improvements can all go ahead.
Council planning officers recognised concerns from residents over the colour, design and ‘fins’ to the outside of the building.
An alternative colour palette was suggested after residents said it was too ‘lurid’ but council officers said the original colours ‘were preferred’.
During the meeting, one resident said: “A major concern is the visual appearance of the car park – I make serious objection to the sign because of its huge size.”
She called the sign a ‘monstrosity’ and said that the car park affected her sleep, adding: “The residents in Chandos Road are doing their best to bring the area up.
“Please, please listen to us and not make the car park more of an eyesore than it already is.”
Another felt that the colour scheme chosen by Chandos residents had been ‘overridden’.
Planning officers confirmed that ‘fins’ are not just a cosmetic choice, but are for public safety and will prevent access to the roof.
Residents were also concerned that anti-social behaviour had increased in the area which they say had been ‘displaced’ from other car parks also undergoing improvements.
Officers said environmental health raised no objection to the plans in terms of anti-social behaviour, as the use of the building for car parking is well established.
According to planning officers, there are now increased police patrols and residents have been told how to report antisocial behaviour.
They said that noise levels are ‘unlikely to increase’ but understood residents felt they would if the car park is used more frequently.
One officer spoke in favour of the application on behalf of the council, saying: “The cladding has been carefully designed to discourage potential accidents and suicide attempts.
“The car park is often a visitor’s first impression of Worthing and the proposed, softer shades give a contemporary, bright appearance.”
She added that car park improvements could encourage regeneration to Worthing’s town centre.
Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) said that the roof would be ‘perfect’ for solar panels. But officers said they were not part of the plan, explaining: “It is primarily to reduce the risk of falling and to upgrade a very tired looking car park.”
Ms Silman said that concerns from residents had ‘made an impression’ on her and she voted against the plans.
Jim Deen (Lab, Central) also voted against the revamp.
He recognised the ‘need to take up slack from other car parks that are being removed’ but said he could not vote on an £800,000 proposal in light of the difficult financial situation of the borough and residents as a result of the pandemic.
He said: “I can’t in all conscience vote for something that costs that much money.”
Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford) said that the cost was ‘not a planning matter’ and that the £800,000 would go towards the whole refurbishment – not necessarily just the improvements discussed at the meeting.
The committee voted to approve the plans which can be found at the Worthing planning portal using reference: AWDM/1240/21.