Bedsit plans for ex-nursing home exposes gap in policy

DM16111590a.jpg Cllr Keith Vickers outside Elton Lodge , Selden Road, Worthing, to be converted into a house in multiple occupancy. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160418-171546008

DM16111590a.jpg Cllr Keith Vickers outside Elton Lodge , Selden Road, Worthing, to be converted into a house in multiple occupancy. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160418-171546008

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An application to convert a former nursing home into bedsits exposed a gap in Worthing Borough Council’s planning policies.

Several members of the council’s planning committee, along with numerous residents, had concerns over the conversion of Elton Lodge, in Selden Road, into a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

But councillors were advised there was little to justify refusing the application and it was approved by the chairman’s casting vote after a split decision.

The council will consider drawing up a new policy to update its guidelines.

Committee chairman Kevin Jenkins said: “We must not forget that HMO accommodation is needed and will always feature in our housing mix.

“However, of late, more of these applications have come forward and it is only right and proper that as a council we have evidence-based local policies in place that will enable the planning officers and the planning committee to make informed judgements.”

Among the main concerns at the meeting last Wednesday was that the conversion would be the fifth HMO in the locality, with objectors claiming this ‘clustering’ did not promote a range and mix of housing.

But existing policies did not cover the clustering issue – and would be one of the points covered by a review.

Residents feared the HMO would create antisocial behaviour issues and called for it to be retained as a care home.

Applicant James Hannah said the HMO would be well-managed, target professional people and be of high quality.

Owner Rani Saimbi said the property was no longer viable as a care home, with new regulations making it harder to operate.

Speaking after the meeting, Selden councillor Keith Bickers said he was ‘disappointed’ with the decision but welcomed the review of policy.