Worthing block of flats for over-65s approved

Plans to build a four-storey block of flats in Worthing for the over-65s have been given the thumbs-up.

The application, to demolish a block of flats and offices on the corner of Lyndhurst Road and Farncombe Road and replace them with the new homes, was agreed at a meeting of the planning committee on Wednesday (July 21).

Submitted by Roffey Homes, this was the second such scheme considered for the site, which lies within the Farncombe Road Conservation Area.

The last one, from 2017, was refused by the committee and turned down on appeal.

The amended design of the block of flats

Among the changes brought forward in the latest application were the reworking of the design and appearance of the corner of the building to make it less ‘over-assertive’, reducing the floor space on the third floor by 12 per cent (148sqm), and changing some of the materials used.

In a statement to the committee, the Worthing Society acknowledged some of the improvements made to the scheme but felt it was ‘still overbearing and out of character with the conservation area’.

But Ben Cheal, of Roffey Homes, said the scheme would ‘meet a need for good quality retirement housing’.

He added: “I do accept we got it wrong previously but this scheme is a vast improvement and it deals with the comments of the inspector at appeal.”

The existing building

The financial viability of the new development was described as ‘on the margins’ in an officer’s report, meaning no affordable housing had to be included.

But Mr Cheal told councillors: “Please be assured we’re not some outside developer trying to pull a fast one.”

As such, he said affordable housing contributions would be paid if the profit margin reached 17.5 per cent – a decision which has the potential to slash that profit to just 6 per cent.

On top of that, he pointed out that Roffey Homes had ‘gifted’ the use of the current building to homelessness charity Turning Tides, effectively missing out on a possible £200,000 in rent per year.

The committee gave unanimous approval to the application.

While some felt not enough had been done to improve the design, other saw it as a ‘positive improvement’ on what was submitted before.

The development will be made up of five one-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom and one three-bedroom flats, with under croft for 21 cars.

To view the plans, log on to planning.adur-worthing.gov.uk and search for AWDM/0130/21.