Worthing councillors and residents '˜disgusted' over planning decision

Councillors and residents were left '˜disgusted' as a council planning committee was forced to approve a controversial development.

Residents of Durston House, subject of the controversial planning application
Residents of Durston House, subject of the controversial planning application

Developers had applied to add a new top floor to Durston House in Chesterfield Road, Durrington, despite selling the current top floor flats only last year.

Residents who bought them said they were unaware a reinforced roof had already been prepared, suggesting an additional storey was already planned when they were sold as ‘top-floor flats’.

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A final decision was deferred in May to investigate room stacking – placing similar rooms on top of each other to decrease noise – and the suitability of existing parking spaces which were considered to be below minimum size requirements.

Consultees offered no objections to the revised plans, leaving the Worthing Borough Council committee with no legal grounds to refuse. Johnathan Haynes, 27, bought his top-floor flat in June, 2017, and felt let down by decision-makers.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” he said after the meeting.

“The councillors’ hands were tied, but the fact the developer is able to put in a plan like that having sold the building is unbelievable. There are a lot of first-time buyers here, who trusted the developers, and we have been let down.”

Councillor Jim Deen said the residents were being treated appallingly and noted the developer’s failure to attend either of the meetings.

There were no speakers in support of the application and four against.

In lieu of being able to reject the proposal, councillors voted to add conditions to ‘mitigate the effects for the residents’.

Working hours were amended to between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, compared to the proposed hours of 8am to 6pm on weekdays and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Conditions were also added to include dust suppression measures and more public engagement.

Speaking before the final vote, committee chairman Paul Yallop said: “This application comes down to ethics and morals, but unfortunately that does not come into our list of considerations.

“We are limited to material planning conditions. That the residents will have this done to them – I am disgusted.

“I don’t want to have to vote in favour of this but I feel we have got no choice.”