Affordable homes cash offer impasse delays development

DM16122696a.jpg Kingsway Hotel, Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160606-173707008
DM16122696a.jpg Kingsway Hotel, Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160606-173707008

A developer held his head in his hands after concerns over his hotel conversion’s contribution to the town’s affordable housing shortage saw a decision on his plans delayed for a second time.

Just under £22,000 to build affordable housing was offered alongside plans for the Kingsway Hotel in October – despite a similar scheme approved in 2016 pledging £235,000.

Councillors called for negotiations after developer 120 Marine Parade Limited argued its fresh scheme was entitled to a discount under government guidelines because the hotel had since been vacated.

Negotiations had pushed the sum to £70,831 – but the developer insisted any more would threaten the viability of the project.

Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee deferred the decision again last Wednesday after raising questions over figures in the applicant’s viability report.

The meeting was temporarily held in private so councillors could discuss the confidential financial figures – but committee chairman Paul Yallop said the numbers would be public if he could allow it.

Speaking from the public gallery, Labour councillor Beccy Cooper said: “An additional £50,000 is not acceptable. That is simply insulting. Heaven forfend that these people should get a profit of less than ten per cent.

“They can still walk away with a good profit. This is not a risky development. This is a great development and people will want to live here.”

The committee heard from developer Peter Cadwallader who said he was saddened by being perceived as a ‘greedy developer’.

“We are here for the long term and want to play our small part in making Worthing wonderful,” he said.

Mr Cadwallader said there were risks with any project, while he was accountable to lenders. He noted any legal agreement over financial contributions had to be signed by the banks.

His agent, Huw James, said the affordable housing offer reduced the project’s profit margin below the normal accepted level – below 15.5 per cent.

Meeting the full affordable housing figure would push the profit margin below ten per cent, it was claimed.

The application will go back before the committee at a later date.

Click here for the Herald’s coverage of Adur and Worthing’s affordable housing cash shortage.