Councillors took a stand as developers hoping to convert a vacant hotel claimed a 95 per cent reduction in affordable housing contributions.
Permission to turn the Kingsway Hotel into housing was granted in 2016, together with £235,824 for off-site affordable housing.
A revised scheme was presented to Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday – but with the hotel now closed, the applicant argued just under £22,000 was due.
Faced with losing funds it had previously secured, the committee deferred its decision for the Marine Parade site, calling for negotiations.
Chairman Paul Yallop said: “I’ve got serious reservations on this. Sometimes there is a time to take a stand.
“There is no precedent on this. The question is whether we want to be the people to go to the expense of breaking the precedent and give our taxpayers the expense of potentially being on the wrong side of this argument.”
Huw James, of ECE Planning, representing 120 Marine Parade Limited, said the change complied with government policy and was ‘not a policy cooked up by developers’ to avoid paying.
But Labour councillor Beccy Cooper and party veteran Jim Deen, speaking from the public gallery, lambasted the offer. Dr Cooper said: “This developer clearly puts profit over the priorities of the people and the community of Worthing.”
The committee faced similar issues later over plans to demolish Irene House, in Parkfield Road, Tarring.
The former care home will be demolished and replaced with 22 flats by Rocco Homes.
But vacant building credits and viability issues meant just £70,000 was proposed for affordable housing, instead of the £532,062 required by local policies.