Developer accused of ‘provocation’ as larger flats plans replace scheme rejected for being too big

Planning committee chairman Paul Yallop
Planning committee chairman Paul Yallop

Councillors who rejected apartment plans for being too bulky were outraged when a developer returned with a larger proposal.

An ‘act of provocation’, ‘antagonising the residents’ and ‘taking the mickey’ were just three of the responses from Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee to Silverleaf’s latest plans for a property in Poulters Lane last night (Wednesday, February 7).

Permission to demolish the existing house and replace it with an apartment block, peaking at three storeys, was refused in October – a proposal subject of an appeal.

But the committee was presented with a larger design yesterday, with changes including one part of the building increasing from two to three storeys.

Reacting to the plans, councillor Paul Baker said: “We refused the original application on the grounds of excessive scale bulk and mass. The new application has rectified this by making it bigger, taller and much larger.

“I have checked my watch. It’s not April 1, so my only explanation is the applicant holds this committee with a fair amount of contempt.”

Residents had previously called for a smaller building, more in-keeping with the style of neighbouring homes, with more than 50 objections.

Councillors hit out at the developer, not present at the meeting, for submitting the plans in light of their refusal reasons.

They also criticised the absence of a £64,000 contribution for affordable housing, agreed as part of the previous application.

Committee chairman Paul Yallop said: “I see this application as an act of provocation against the community at large of Worthing. It’s not just the council, it’s the residents as well.”

Speaking after the meeting, Silverleaf director Justin Owens said the new application reintroduced a studio apartment which had been removed after negotiations with council planning officers.

He said approval of a loft extension to an adjacent home in Gorse Avenue had changed the surroundings on which the plans had to be considered against.

He added: “Whilst we are fully aware that the scheme is slightly larger than the previous proposal, we do not agree with the committee in their views that the scheme is an overdevelopment of the site and feel it makes the most efficient use of the land whilst also providing a valuable contribution towards the much-needed housing stock in the borough.

“With regard to affordable housing, the council must adhere to national policy and guidance providing solid justification should they wish to depart from this. Despite requesting this information, the council have not been able to provide any evidence to support their position and so we believe the request for an affordable housing contribution to be unsound.

“It is disappointing that despite us using our best endeavours to work proactively with the council planning department to deliver new homes in the locality, the Planning Committee have still chosen to refuse our proposals for the site.”