We are being encouraged to believe that Roffey Homes cannot make a profit on the Aquarena site unless they can build 144 flats, and they can only do this with a 21-storey tower.
The real reason the tower is 21 storeys and placed on the promenade is that it’s the location with the highest saleable value, which will generate the greatest possible profit. It doesn’t appear to matter that the other 50 per cent of the flats don’t have sea views, are overshadowed by the tower and are accessed by internal, artificially lit corridors.
Nor that the corridors are double-loaded, resulting in the number of flats having single aspect, sometimes only north- facing, and some with the only outlook, ventilation and light being right on Brighton Road. Nor that the seafront is privatised in one of the few places along the coast where the beach is not cut off by a road.
We assume that Roffey have already demonstrated that with the three to six-storey Warnes and the three to nine-storey Beach House developments, both on the seafront, that they can make a reasonable profit and respond to their existing context relatively sympathetically.
So, there is no necessity to exploit the Aquarena site with what the Worthing Tall Buildings Guidance Policy classifies as a ‘very tall building’ (11-plus storeys).
A skilful architect working with a socially conscious developer can quite easily match the density and mix of flats proposed, provide at least the same quantity of open space, ensure that all the flats are at least double-aspect and cross-ventilated with at least two thirds of the flats having a sea view (not just two-fifths as in the proposed scheme), contribute to Worthing’s seafront amenity and have a positive sustainability strategy without any of the buildings having to go higher than eight storeys.
There is no reason why the scale and massing of the proposed scheme shouldn’t relate better to the three-storey neighbouring context or four-storey Splashpoint Pool. The proposed scale is unnecessary. With a creative use of setbacks in good contemporary architecture, the scale can be visually adjusted to relate better to its context. A combination of an eight and five-storey development is achievable to match the density and mix proposed by Roffey. There is no necessity for a 21-storey housing tower at all. Of course, all this is accepting that the proposed density for the site is appropriate – which it clearly isn’t.
The council’s Tall Buildings Guidelines (Supplementary Planning Document) 2013 makes interesting reading. It outlines a number of clear and thoughtful planning policies which Roffey’s proposal has not taken into consideration.
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