Councillors will decide whether to accept a £100,000 contribution towards affordable housing from developers hoping to convert a vacant hotel in Worthing.
Council officers have recommended that councillors 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 has been proffered 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.
A revised scheme was presented to Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee in October 2017 – but 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.
Tonight, councillors due to vote on this latest offer will consider the results of an independent viability assessment from Gleeds, which assessed the developer return.
The study found that a payment of £100,000 would result in a developer return of 13.92 per cent.
A payment of £235,824 would reduce the return further to 12.11 per cent, according to the study.
The independent assessment concluded that ‘all of the above returns would be at a level lower than a developer would expect for a project of this type and could render the project unviable’.
Council officers have said that in light of this conclusion, it remains the case that in the event of an appeal, it may be difficult to justify even a £50,000 contribution.
Officers described the other planning aspects of the application as ‘entirely acceptable’ and said that the development itself would ‘provide new homes and improve the visual character of the area’.
Councillors will make their decision at a planning meeting at 6.30pm tonight (Wednesday, January 10) in the Gordon Room of Worthing Town Hall.