A CONTROVERSIAL 21-storey tower block on Worthing seafront has been recommended for approval by council planners.
Roffey Homes’s revised plans for the former Aquarena building have been objected to by 686 residents, with 91 letters of support.
Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee, due to meet on Tuesday, September 22, have been recommended to give the plans the green light by officers.
But in doing so, a report to the committee concedes arguments are ‘finely balanced’, with approval potentially justified ‘subject to resolving outstanding design details’.
Councillors can go against the officer recommendations, which are purely a guidance based on planning policy.
Turning to the issue of height, the detailed 150-page report summarises: “The wide regeneration benefits of a tall building on the site would only be of significance if the design was of exceptional quality to give the building the status of a landmark and architecturally placed Worthing on the map.
“The applicant’s agent refers to the building as world class and clearly time would tell if this was to be the case.
“The revised design certainly is a far more convincing form and the finishes and materials are essential to deliver the quality that the site (and its height) demands.”
Protestors against the development gathered outside the Aquarena, in Brighton Road, with placards on Saturday - the latest in a string of demonstrations.
Organisations such as Historic England have joined objectors, stating the proposals, which were recently revised and resubmitted ‘remains very harmful’ to the Worthing town centre conservation area and adjacent Beach House.
MPs Sir Peter Bottomley and Tim Loughton have also objected.
Coastal West Sussex Design Panel, meanwhile, told council officers a ‘strong case’ had been made for the tower.
The tower’s design was tweaked as part of Roffey’s resubmission of the plans, now taking more of a block form, as compared to the ‘razor shell’ shape previously favoured.
The report states: “Your officers feel that the revised design approach is far more visually striking. The ribbon or zipper is a key feature and one that would be the defining character for the tower.
“Whether it is of such exceptional design character to justify its height and landmark status is clearly a very subjective view.”
The plans, which include separate blocks towards Brighton Road, would deliver 147 apartments, including 39 affordable homes.
A commercial unit, 69 public car parking spaces for use by Splashpoint pool customers and 150 private spaces are also planned.
Public realm improvements, including at New Parade, are detailed.
The planning committee will meet at Worthing Assembly Halls, in Stoke Abbott Road, on Tuesday, September 22 from 6.30pm.
Normal rules limiting the number of speakers and time allowed for them to put across their representations, have been relaxed.
The full report can be read here