Terraced houses will not be built next to the oldest hotel in Bognor Regis.
Councillors over-ruled their planning officer’s advice and rejected his recommendation to back the homes to the east of the Royal Norfolk Hotel.
Cllr Jim Brooks (I, Marine) said:
“The building will affect the setting of an iconic Grade II-listed building. Putting anything on that land, as the planning inspector has indicated in previous schemes, would damage the view and the setting of the iconic building.”
The latest application by Mr D. Skinner would have seen three terraced houses built on the hotel’s former tennis courts. The dwellings would have faced West Street.
Five previous attempts to build on the land, which is in The Steyne and Waterloo Square conservation area, have failed to come to fruition.
Of those, four have been refused by Arun. Two of those decisions have been appealed against by Mr Skinner.
A planning inspector has ruled against the schemes both times. The most recent decision in 2015 was based on the hotel’s setting in its open grounds and the character of the conservation area and the housing’s impact on it.
The other proposal was withdrawn by Mr Skinner before it could be decided.
Arun received 37 letters of objection to the latest scheme. Bognor Regis Town Council also protested against it.
The committee was told by Bognor Regis town councillor Steve Goodheart:
“There is a great desire from the residents of Bognor Regis to keep this open space for the benefit of the town.”
Objector Keith Henderson outlined five reasons why he believed the scheme should be turned down.
“Similar proposals have been rejected in the past,” he said. “Many new housing developments in the local area have been approved recently that is negating the need to build in this conservation area.”
Committee member Cllr Martin Lury (LD, Bersted) said: “We really do need to think about preserving the Royal Norfolk Hotel as a landmark building within the town.
“The setting is absolutely paramount. All you are going to be seeing from the seafront is the gable end of the housing. It’s going to look absolutely appalling. It is going to detract from the setting of a Grade II-listed building.
“This is the most prestigious site we have along Bognor Regis. Please, please, please let us preserve the Royal Norfolk Hotel and its setting.”
But Adrian Hoy, Mr Skinner’s planning agent, said the inspectors had raised no objections in principle to housing next to the hotel in their decisions on the previous plans.
“The only reason permission has not been granted in the past is because no acceptable form of development has ever been proposed until now,” he said.
“The space around the hotel must be considered in the context of the many buildings allowed on its opposite side.
“In reality, West Street is not the most endearing part of the conservation area.
“For years, this site has stood as neglected waste ground because no viable use has been found.”
Arun planning officer Dan Vick said the current scheme had one house less than the previous plan.