‘Stark’, ‘hideous’, and ‘not particularly pleasing’ were among the kinder comments made by councillors asked to approve a block of 18 affordable flats in Horsham.
The flats, along with three houses, will all be built by housing association Saxon Weald on the corner of Bennetts Road and Elm Grove, with six houses being demolished to make way for them.
At a meeting of the district council’s planning committee on Tuesday, members were torn between the need for affordable rented homes and their abject dislike of the look of the main building.
Liz Kitchen (Con, Colgate & Rusper) said: “That hideous block looks to me as if someone’s child has started building with Lego and lost the top floor.”
Alan Britten (Lib Dem, Roffey South) was less tactful, saying the design put him in mind of a young offenders’ institute and calling it ‘harsh’, ‘forbidding’ and ‘foreboding’.
Two rounds of public consultations had been held, which garnered no support for the scheme from residents.
The council received a number of objections with concerns about issues such as the design, overdevelopment, traffic and parking.
The development will include off-road parking for 25 cars.
David Skipp (Lib Dem, Forest) said he knew that residents were unhappy with the scheme – and was not happy with the choice he faced.
Reflecting the views of many of his colleagues, he said: “On balance, one has to go for the housing.
“But I feel that my arm’s being twisted somewhat in order to approve it by saying that we should have that affordable housing.
“I’m going to be honest about it, I’m not terribly happy at all about what has been drawn and shown here.”
In the end, members agreed to delegate the application to the council’s head of development for approval on the understanding that they would consult with local members to agree suitable building materials and basically improve the look of the building.
Stephen Humphreys, of Saxon Weald, said: “There are currently 500 households in housing need within the district, with many in need of one and two-bed accommodation.
“This project will help address this need and also provide some larger family homes.
“Saxon Weald will work with the council to adopt and manage a lettings plan that will reflect the needs of the community.
“The overall objective is to provide a high-quality scheme delivering 100 per cent affordable homes for local people.”
The homes will be made up of four one-bedroom flats, 14 two-bedroom flats and three three-bedroom houses.