Last night the Worthing Borough Council Planning Committee considered an application to turn the Windsor House Hotel, Windsor Road; into 44 bedsitting rooms with shared facilities. This application attracted over 150 residents letters of concern to the planning officers and their voices and concerns were replicated and supported by the local MP Tim Loughton who also wrote in questioning the appropriateness of this application. 50 plus residents crowded into the Gordon Room at Worthing Town hall to hear the application being determined.
Councillors heard from residents expressing their experiences of anti-social behaviour in the area, often linked to existing houses of multiple occupation (HMO) already in the locality and raising real-life fears about what this mega HMO with 44 rooms would bring. One speaker spoke of drug taking, fights that she and her children had experienced and how her children were fearful of going out to the shops.
Councillors raised concerns that they were being asked to determine the application, with very limited detail about the intended end-user group of the facilities; whilst the written submission and officers report seemed to suggest that with the provision on-site qualified staff to deal with ASB and mental health issues, a large proportion would be used for persons with acute social needs.
During the meeting and at the last minute the developer seemed to offer to the committee that they would accept various conditions to get this application over the line. However Cllr Kevin Jenkins (conservative - Goring) proposed that the application should be refused. This proposal was agreed by the committee (7 for refusal and 1 against).
Commenting later, Cllr Jenkins said,
"The applicant failed to clearly demonstrate the targeted end user. That information is key for the committee to be able to make a decision that manages the housing mix and will deliver sustainable, mixed and balanced communities. The submission was vague with contrary statements, yet it contains information that already suggested this build will be targeted at the needs of various local authorities in and outside of Worthing to provide emergency accommodation. In my view this application failed as it was contrary to the council's development management policies as it does not provide a balanced community, that does not damage or cause potential harm to the character and amenity of the area. The argument put forward for this development failed to outweigh the potential harm it could cause.
I am grateful to the residents who came along and spoke so passionately about their concerns and who have contacted me since, and to my colleagues who supported my proposal to turn down this application".