PARENTS opposing the demolition of the Jolly Brewers pub to build flats overlooking Heene School set up a protest outside Worthing town hall last week.
The group gathered with placards saying ‘kids first’ and ‘school not flats’ prior to a meeting of Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee on June 25.
Applicant Alex Whibley wants to demolish the Clifton Road pub and erect a four-storey apartment block consisting of five one bedroom flats and 15 two bedroom flats.
Fifty-two letters of objection have been submitted alongside a petition containing 716 signatures and 141 comments.
Mother-of-four Fiona Mckinney spoke at the meeting. She said: “Since 2001 the number of flats in the proposed area has doubled from just over 1,000 to 2,000 yet the number of school places available in this area has seen little change. Sixty per cent of the town centre area is now flats and families do live in them.
“The flats will push more families out of an already small catchment area proposed for the school and these families, historically those on the seafront, will have to travel huge distances to the school.
“The school currently has a capacity for 90 children in each year. It will fall to 60 from next year when it becomes a primary and there is even talk of it being just 45 as there is a considerable issue with space. These flats will put even more strain on an already oversubscribed school.
“There are currently families in the town centre that have to get their children to Durrington or up to Findon, all because the year their children were allocated spaces there were none available in the catchment.
“The proposed development is simply going to put too much strain on an already bulging soon to be primary school. Families of the town centre first, not flats please.”
But councillors voted to defer the application until more information could be presented regarding sustainability of the new flats.
Councillor Michael Donin said: “In trying to consider this project it is very difficult because of the pressure that we have to meet the demand of housing needs and to provide infrastructure and schooling and education for our children.”
The parents have launched a new petition to try and get Heene school’s plight debated at the next West Sussex County Council meeting.
To sign it, go to www.epetition.westsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/heeneschool