Council to rule on redevelopment of Bunce’s hardware store

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141323001
An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141323001

The relocation of a popular hardware business has freed up its old site for dozens of new homes.

Councillors will determine an application to demolish Bunce’s, in Chapel Road, Worthing, on Wednesday (January 18).

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141246001

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141246001

The Rocco Homes plans would see the store replaced with 32 one and two-bedroom flats and a commercial space.

A statement from the owners of Bunce’s ahead of the Worthing Borough Council planning committee meeting read: “As owners of Bunces, we established our business on the site in 1928 and have since grown to become an established name within Worthing and across West Sussex.

“However, it became increasingly clear to us that the store no longer meets the needs of the business, which must adapt to a rapidly changing retail environment.”

Concern has been expressed by the Worthing Society and residents over the level of parking proposed.

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141300001

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141300001

Just 12 parking spaces have been earmarked – but despite the concern West Sussex County Council’s highways department raised no objection to the plans.

County acknowledged the plans would create additional pressure on the roads but said it would not have a severe impact which would require investment in infrastructure.

The town centre location, coupled with restricted parking in the surrounding streets, also influenced the judgement. Storage for 32 bicycles will also be provided.

Council officers pointed to the adjacent Norfolk House, where 48 affordable flats share five spaces.

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141311001

An artist's impression for the redevelopment of Bunce's, in Chapel Road, Worthing. Picture courtesy of ECE Architects SUS-170116-141311001

Rocco’s plans do not include affordable housing. The council has negotiated a £25,000 contribution for affordable homes elsewhere.

The council’s policy requires developments of such scale to provide 30 per cent affordable housing.

In Rocco’s case, it would mean a sum of £769,901 was due.

But the developer suggested provided this level of funding would make the scheme unviable.

The offer of £25,000 followed advice from an independent valuer, who scrutinised the finances of the scheme.

The officer’s report, to be presented to the planning committee, read: “The very large shortfall in affordable housing contributions is disappointing but not unusual in the current economic climate and the case on viability grounds is accepted.”

The plans accommodate a commercial space, which could have a range of uses.

This includes potential for shops, professional or financial services, offices or medical use.

The space could be divided into more than one unit, dependant on demand.

The plans are recommended for approval. The final decision will rest with the committee.

Bunce’s is now based in Portland Road, with a trade counter at the Ham Bridge Trading Estate, in East Worthing.