Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee approved Westrock’s plans to part demolish Bishops Weald House and build 53 apartments, new retail and restaurant units, and a gym.
Meanwhile 17 shared ownership units will be built on part of the former Lifestyle Ford site fronting on to the Bishopric.
The application is the third phase of Westrock’s £35m project for the ‘West End’ of the town centre, which is also seeing Waitrose and John Lewis At Home stores currently being built east of Albion Way.
Councillors deferred the application in August citing concerns over the amount of affordable housing and the design of the building, but voted to approve plans at Tuesday’s meeting.
Afterwards Westrock’s Robin Barton, said: “We are very glad indeed. It’s what we were seeking was the opportunity to remodel Bishops Weald House.”
While David Sheldon (Ind, Denne) felt that while ‘frankly anything would make that building look better’, he was struggling with just 24 per cent affordable housing, which he said was also ‘the wrong mix of housing’.
Fellow ward member Laurence Deakins (Con, Denne) agreed and felt it was ‘regrettable’ they did not have a higher amount of affordable housing.
Meanwhile Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar) added: “We need a West End that’s stunning. I do not feel it at the moment. I’m none too happy but there are some improvements that are slightly better.”
However deputy leader Helena Croft (Con, Roffey North) disagreed and said: “I think the design element is subjective personally. I really like it. It’s modern and attractive and I think it will really add to the street scene.”
Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) added: “It’s been said already, the revised scheme is a vast improvement on the carbuncle that’s there now.”
Chris Lyons, HDC’s new director of planning, economic development and property, added: “I think it’s a very positive step for the town centre.”
As part of the project Horsham Bowling Club has moved to Holbrook Tythe Barn and Lifestyle Ford to just off the Farthings Hill roundabout.
McDonalds vacated the corner unit in July when its lease was not extended, but the Entertainer toy shop and Argos will remain.