Plans for 48 new affordable homes in the heart of Horsham have been given the go-ahead by district councillors.
Saxon Weald wants to demolish Page Court in Livingstone Road off New Street and replace it with 40 flats as well as 8 terraced houses fronting on to Park Terrace East.
Currently the housing association owns 42 bedsit-style units on the site and these would be knocked down along with three bungalows.
Members of Horsham District Council’s planning committee north approved the application on Tuesday (December 3).
The main block of 40 flats would be part three-storey and part four-storey in height.
While all members welcomed new affordable housing, especially given the ‘substandard’ nature of the current accommodation there, several raised concerns over the scale of the building proposed and parking.
Neighbours speaking in objection to the scheme felt there was no precedent in the vicinity for a four-storey building and suggested people living on the upper floors would lead to a loss of privacy for those living nearby.
The site’s 56 parking spaces were also described as being inadequate by several residents.
Stephen Humphreys, a director at Saxon Weald, described how they had carried out extensive consultation with the public and the council in drawing up the scheme as currently designed.
He said: “We will be building a high quality and modern building which compliments the local area.”
Local Lib Dem ward members Godfrey Newman and David Skipp welcomed the new affordable housing, but voiced reservations about the massing of the building, its design and strain on parking.
Mr Newman said: “I just do not want to see something that has been crammed in. It just does not look right, particularly so close to the main road.
“It’s not what I would have wanted, but it’s what we have got.”
Dr Skipp added: “I feel the gun to my head. If I vote against this I will be resisting the affordable housing and affordable housing is obviously important.”
Meanwhile Ruth Fletcher (LDEm, Denne) suggested the cycle parking could have been closer to the street, felt solar panels could have been explored for the roof and asked about the brickwork and if detailing would help break up the massing.
Officers said they could involve local members in the process of approving the final external materials used.
Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East) spoke enthusiastically about the scheme as did Tricia Youtan (Con, Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham). She said: “I think we may be losing sight of the fact it’s a development of 100 per cent affordable housing which we need. The existing building I have been to visit. It’s extremely unattractive and the accommodation is substandard to say the least.
“Rooms are extremely small and the long corridors are very oppressive. I’m delighted it’s going to be upgraded.”
Clare Vickers (Con, Southwater North), cabinet member for planning and development, added: “The need for affordable housing outweighs all the concerns I have heard and I will be supporting this.”