It’s a great disappointment that Worthing Borough Council was outbid in its attempt to buy Kingsway in George V Avenue last week.
The block had provided valuable emergency and temporary accommodation for Worthing Borough Council.
It leaves the council with a continuing problem of providing this kind of accommodation for residents often facing the biggest crisis in their lives at a time when they are most vulnerable.
We sincerely hope the council manages to find other properties to purchase that will meet this need.
But the issue has to be seen against the background of the continuing problem of social and affordable homes provision in Worthing and the failure of developers to meet their obligations for affordable housing provision under the Local Plan.
Recent decisions on the redevelopment of the Bunce’s site and the site at the bottom of Grand Avenue have seen developers get away with no affordable housing provision and derisory off-site financial contributions on the grounds that making such a contribution would make the development not financially viable.
We appreciate that this viability get-out is now part of the planning regulations – introduced by this government to favour developers – but it is being used on an industrial scale up and down the country and threatens the whole basis of the affordable homes provision. It needs to be challenged. When the Kingsway site comes before the planners for redevelopment as luxury apartments with no affordable homes provision on the grounds of viability – as we suspect it will – the developers who paid £2.4m for the block need to be called out. They need to be reminded that they knew full well what the Local Plan says about affordable homes provision and they had every chance to factor that in to the decision on the amount they paid at auction.
It’s the case that should have been made in the Bunce and Grand Avenue redevelopments but wasn’t. It’s now time to draw a line in the sand and for Worthing to stand up to developers who are profiteering at our expense of all Worthing residents.