A bid to demolish an office block and build 80 town centre apartments was rejected by the council as being ‘ugly’ and a ‘blight’ on Horsham.
Members of Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee queued up to criticise the scheme’s design on the Linden House site in Chart Way opposite the RSA building.
The building was vacated by Royal Sun Alliance in March 2007 and developers have spent the last three years working on proposals.
Frances Haigh (LDem, Horsham Park) said: “This site is a prime location in Horsham town which is a rural market town. This looks like a university halls of residence. It’s too vast and it’s inappropriate for this site.”
David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) added: “This building is vast and to my mind it is ugly. If approved the people of Horsham would regret it, it would be a blight, a carbuncle on the town.”
Andy Quek, a Madeira Avenue resident objecting to the scheme, told councillors the new apartments would overshadow existing residential properties, leading to a loss of privacy.
James Simpson, agent for the scheme, said developers had engaged positively with residents on plans and thought it would provide much-needed affordable housing.
While most members felt the site was appropriate for housing, most questioned the design for such a prime location in Horsham, and many raised concerns over inadequate parking provision.
Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) thought access to Albion Way would be a ‘recipe for an accident’.
He added: “The design and mass of this it’s basically a slab and it’s a very unattractive slab and in no way improves the general appearance of the town.”
Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) added: “What the developer needs to do is get an imaginative architect.”
After the scheme was rejected members spent 15 minutes debating if they had rejected the application, or delegated it with a view to rejection, so that local members could agree the reasons for refusal in case the application was appealed.
Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West) said: “It’s a straight and unambiguous no and they can come back with some proper plans.”
Mr Crosbie added: “We have made a decision to refuse. They [officers] have listened to the debate, can’t they encapsulate the reasons?”