Six flats on site of Worthing garages next to primary school supported

A plan to build six flats on a storage area south of Heene Church of England Primary School was delegated for approval on Wednesday (September 22).

Indicative plans
Indicative plans

Four one-bed flats and two two-bed flats could now be built facing a central courtyard as part of a ‘car-free scheme’ at the Norfolk Street garage site.

Although cycle parking is provided, West Sussex County Council highways authority said that at least six car parking spaces should have been included.

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The decision was deferred from Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee on August 25 due to uncertainty over access ownership.

Enquiries have since been made over the access, which officers say is used by quite a few people as a cut through to Victoria Park and is an ‘established right of way’.

Nearby residents sought a further delay to seek legal advice over the access but officers decided that this was separate to the planning process.

The plans received objections, including two petitions, from residents who said the flats could ‘impact detrimentally on an already overburdened parking

and access situation’.

During the meeting, several public speakers had their say – One said: “The site has become landlocked.”

He took issue with the ‘car-free scheme’ saying deliveries and access to vehicles are ‘very much a part of 21st century life’.

Another said the applicant had not ‘taken the opportunity to contact the residents’ since deferral – a decision which ECE Planning said it ‘regrets’.

Most of the speakers made reference to the access which was called a ‘green corridor’ by Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) who ‘did not want to see it tarmacked’.

Speakers said that residents maintain it and are worried about the impact the development might have.

Plans were also deferred so that access issues to the site could be considered for wheelchair use in the future. However, officers confirmed no access group is currently operating at WBC and therefore one could not be consulted.

An ECE Planning representative said this would provide ‘six, good quality flats’. Speaking on the green corridor, she said: “It is an access road for everybody and we will work with residents.”

Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford) said: “We have an acute housing need within our town.

“It is a sustainable location and I’m quite comfortable at this time to support this application.”

But Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said: “I think it is a large block, windowless on most sides – A more modest development would have been much more appropriate here.”

He said a ‘huge dossier of objections’ from residents indicated ‘something is wrong’.

Council planning officers reminded the committee that, if not approved in its current form, a development could ‘happen without any further control’, without access improvements, under permitted development rights.

“Have regard to what the alternative might be,” they said.

Officers will have a final say on the decision as a notice published in the Worthing Herald, to find the owner of the access route, does not expire until September 30.

More information can be found at the Worthing planning portal using reference: AWDM/0550/21.