Concerns over North Bersted plan for affordable housing

THE appearance of a proposed development of affordable homes in North Bersted has continued to cause concern for councillors

The applicant Wilmington Homes wanted to demolish the former Family Tree public house and replace it with three separate buildings.

These would comprise 14 affordable homes on the Durlston Drive site.

Eight of the homes would be three-bed houses. There would also be three two-bed flats and three one-bed flats.

But at their meeting on September 19, Arun District Council’s development control committee voted to defer the application so their planning officers can discuss further improvements on how the buildings look with the applicant.

Cllr Jean Goad (Con, Barnham) said: “I think the fact this application is for affordable housing in the district is to be welcomed, but unfortunately the design of this building makes it look like a prison.”

Fellow member Cllr Mike Northeast (Lab, Ham) agreed.

He said: “I know this is affordable housing but surely something can be done to make it look half decent .

“I agree with Cllr Mrs Goad, it looks horrendous.

“I visited London during the Olympics and saw all the affordable housing around Stratford.

“It was designed well, so I don’t understand, why can’t the same be done here?

“For families to have to live in housing like this which looks miserable and dull will just make them feel the same.”

Not satisfied

Committee member John Charles (Con, Barnham) told his fellow councillors he was unable to support the application as he was not satisfied the structure’s appearance had been improved enough.

“The design is a lot better than it was before, but it is still not good enough,” said Cllr Charles.

Senior council planning officer Cian Cronin reminded members he had previously gone back to the developer at their request in a bid to improve the building’s design.

He said: “I think this scheme does include a lot of the things the committee has asked for.

“It is of a high quality finish, red brick is being used and the building materials being used are of very high quality.

“It is a high density scheme, but there is a need for affordable housing in the area.”

Cllr Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) told councillors he believed it was not the design of the buildings which were causing the problems but their mass.

He said: “It would look better if the building could be broken up into various levels of height.

“It is a difficult balance to create but I wonder whether it would be possible for officers to go back to the applicant on that basis and try to find a way forward.

“As it stands, I can not see members would wish to agree it.”

Planning officers will now discuss ways to improve the building’s mass and appearance with the applicant Wilmington Homes.