Councillors have voted to accept a contribution of £100,000 towards affordable housing from a developer planning to convert a vacant hotel in Worthing.
The planning committee had been advised to accept this latest offer for the Kingsway Hotel site in Marine Parade – which includes a clawback mechanism subject to a cap of £235,824 – which was put forward after months of negotiation.
Permission to turn the Kingsway Hotel into housing was granted in 2016, together with £235,824 for off-site affordable housing.
But revised scheme was presented to Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee in October 2017 – and with the hotel now closed, the applicant argued just under £22,000 was due.
Faced with losing funds it had previously secured, councillors took a stand and the committee deferred its decision for the Marine Parade site, calling for negotiations.
At a second meeting in December, developer 120 Marine Parade Limited offered a sum of £70,831 – insisting any more would threaten the viability of the project.
But the committee deferred a decision again after raising questions over figures in the applicant’s viability report.
Last Wednesday, councillors considered the results of an independent viability assessment from Gleeds, which found that a payment of £100,000 would result in a developer return of 13.92 per cent – which was ‘a level lower than a developer would expect for a project of this type’.
Councillors decided to accept the sum acknowledging that negotiations had gone ‘as far as they would go’.
Councillor Paul Yallop said: “I would have liked to have seen something closer to the original £235,824.
“But I think we have stepped towards the right direction.” Councilor Paul Westover said he was happy to support the application but said: “It’s a shame its taken three sessions to get this far. The development could have been started a lot sooner.”
Councillor Hazel Thorpe said: “I think the developer has shown that he is committed to Worthing. The design itself is very good. They have done a lot of work on it.”
Speaking from the public gallery, Councillor Beccy Cooper said: “I hope that stand that has been taken by the committee will be noted by developers.”
The development will include 14 apartments, two houses and nine parking spaces.