Plans for retirement flat given go ahead

PLANS to demolish the Mid Sussex Area Professional Centre in Horsham and build 48 retirement flats are one step closer to approval after a council debate this week.

Two schemes for apartments with communal facilities, landscaping, 20 car park spaces and new access from Clarence Road were before Horsham District Council’s development management committee on Tuesday.

Councillors delegated plans for developers McCarthy and Stone to go ahead with either scheme with view to approval subject to legal agreements and plans for sufficient parking.

Scheme A has 32 one-bed and 16 two-bed flats and no glazed link and scheme B features 35 one-bed and 13 two-bed apartments and a glazed link.

The flats, which will replace the adult education centre owned by West Sussex County Council, will be in a U-shaped building around an internal courtyard three storeys at Clarence Road reducing to two storeys and one storey at the north eastern end of the site.

However, the lack of on-site affordable housing proved a sticking point for objectors along with overlooking, overdevelopment, parking problems, highway access and loss of amenity.

Resident Carol Hayton said: “In the absence of any other guiding principles, I refer to the council’s core strategy which states that affordable housing is a priority and that all development over 15 units should have a target of 40 per cent affordable housing.

“This site offers zero percent, not a single unit provided to meet the needs of local people on the growing council waiting list. Commuted sums and Section 106 financial contributions should not be considered an acceptable alternative.”

Officers said the applicant initially made an offer of £312,030 towards provision of affordable housing within the district, but negotiations the led to them to increase their contribution to £523,400 for the first scheme, with a further £76,600 to cover infrastructure.

Should the applicant decide to build scheme B, members said a suitable commuted sum for affordable housing still needs to be agreed.

Local member David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) sought to assure residents saying: “In the last two years 470 affordable housing starts have come forward.

“It’s not true to suggest that money is not going to be used for affordable housing.”

He added that sufficient parking was a priority.

“We have experience in Horsham Town of another McCarthy and Stone development on Kings Road and know there is a lot of additional parking over and above the marked up parking access.

“On that site it can be accommodated because there is an access road in which vehicles can park. There is no similar space on this site, no access road.”

Members agreed the plans to be delegated to officers with view to approve them subject to affordable housing sums, flooding and parking requirements are met.

They also honoured a request from Forest Neighbourhood Council for McCarthy and Stone provide a bus shelter on Brighton Road saying the bus route would be a “selling point for this type of housing.”

A condition was added for the developers to pay £10,000 towards one.