UPDATE: Aquarena 21-storey tower plans rejected

New plans for the Aquarena. Picture courtesy of F10 Studios SUS-150720-092733001
New plans for the Aquarena. Picture courtesy of F10 Studios SUS-150720-092733001

HUGE cheers erupted from a packed public gallery last night as councillors voted to reject plans for a 21-storey seafront tower (Wednesday, September 22).

Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee voted against the Roffey Homes plans for the former Aquarena tower by a margin of five to two.

The plans were described as ‘world class’ by the developer but the committee was unconvinced.

They turned the application down on the grounds of over-development, design, harm to the surrounding conservation area and that it was ‘unsympathetic’.

Speaking after a passionate three-and-a-half-hour meeting, Anthony Barber, of the Save Our Seafront campaign, said: “We are obviously thrilled.

“We hope Roffey will come back with a more appropriate scheme that is more responsive to Worthing’s clear feelings.”

The development would have delivered 147 new homes, including 39 affordable homes, public realm improvements and 69 public car parking spaces for the adjacent Splashpoint pool.

Roffey had also agreed to contribute £1million to off-site affordable housing.

Councillors – and a public gallery of more than 200 – were taken through the evolution of the tower block by planning officers.

They were shown initial plans of the site, including initial polystyrene scale and mass models, through to a CGI video flyover of the final designs. The audience laughed as an early image of the proposed tower block was described as being modelled on a ‘razor clam’.

The latest designs, subject of a resubmitted application, was likened to a ‘zipper’, with a white line ‘snaking’ around the building.

But it was the height of the tower, which has caused considerable controversy amongst residents, and its design, which caused greatest concern for the committee.

While ECE planning’s Chris Barker described the development as ‘world class’, others, like councillor Edward Crouch, dismissed it as ‘rubbish’, a ‘scar on the face of Worthing’ and ‘stacked containers’.

There were additional concerns that the amount of affordable housing fell short of the 30 per cent gold standard and there would be a shortage of parking spaces.

Debating the plans, councillor Diane Guest said: “I was a fan of Roffey until the Beach residences and they seem to have lost their way. Without doubt there will be harm to the historic heritage asset of Beach House.”

Councillor James Doyle suggested lowering the height of the tower to around nine storeys would still deliver a significant amount of homes but voted against the plans in their current form.

Councillors Kevin Jenkins and Luke Proudfoot voted in favour of the plans, with Mr Proudfoot noting the need for housing on brownfield land to protect greenfield sites.

In reaction to the committee’s decision, Mr Cheal said the firm would consider its next steps over the coming days. He said: “We put forward a scheme and design of the highest quality that everyone in Worthing could be proud of. It would have replaced an eyesore with affordable homes that the town so badly needs, a new public car park and vibrant new areas for everyone to enjoy.”

To see how the meeting unfolded, click on our live Twitter feed here.