Teville Gate site ‘must prioritise local people’ say councillors

Thursday, 17 March 2022 19:46

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

Worthing Borough Council could work with a developer to finally bring forward the Teville Gate site but counillors want to see local people prioritised.

Senior councillors have agreed to work with Hyde Housing to bring forward 343 affordable homes and more than 20,000 square feet of commercial space at the site.

Though the plans are subject to planning permission and could change pending consultation, a partnership could see the council work on a scheme with the housing provider before selling the site to Hyde in a ‘land deal’.

The housing provider approached the council following WBC’s £7.4 million purchase of the site.

During a Joint strategic committee meeting on Wednesday (March 16) senior councillors backed the proposal in principle with a more detailed contract yet to be drawn up.

Officers recommended the proposal for approval, saying: “We think this is an appropriate way forward, because it is in fact delivering more homes, and especially affordable homes.  “It seems to be a viable proposal and it leverages in significant funding of approximately £28 million from Homes England.

“It does what we set out to achieve in terms of phasing and design, reducing the heights from previous schemes.”

Executive member for regeneration Nicola Waight (Con, Goring) wanted to know if local people would be given priority for any homes that come forward.

“Finally, we have a scheme that can be delivered on this site,” she said. “It’s achievable because we purchased the land and giving us 100 per cent affordable housing on one site I think is probably quite rare.  “These homes should be offered to local people on the local housing list.”

Council leader Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford) said: “It is very important that we can allocate families homes in their home town, rather than having to go further afield.”

While officers couldn’t confirm that 100 per cent of rented accommodation would be for Worthing residents, a lettings agreement for the whole site could be negotiated with Hyde.

Executive member for digital and environmental services Ed Crouch (Con, Marine) asked how Hyde had been chosen as a partner.

He said: “Was there an open competitive process or was it more of a conversation and they approached us?”

Officers said they had considered other registered providers but proposed the off market deal with Hyde due to its existing relationship with the council and access to Homes England funding.

“It’s not a sweetheart deal,” added one officer.  Mr Jenkins welcomed a potential partner but asked why apartments are proposed and not houses.
Officers said houses are ‘unlikely to be viable’. They added that not making use of Teville Gate for higher density housing could ‘put more environmentally sensitive sites at risk’.

This comes after WBC failed to meet government housing targets and lost an appeal over 475 homes at Chatsmore Farm.

Labour group leader Dr Beccy Cooper (Marine) wanted to know how a Hyde deal would affect proposed meanwhile uses for the site and reinstatement of a footpath between the railway station and town centre.

Mr Jenkins said this fell outside the scope of the meeting.

If a deal goes ahead and planning permission is secured by next winter, construction could last be completed by 2026.777

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