WORK is finally about to start on Littlehampton’s longest-delayed housing scheme.
Contractors will shortly move on to the former indoor market site between Surrey Street and Terminus Road, 11 years after stallholders ceased trading there.
Housing association Hyde Martlet is building 52 affordable homes on the 35,000 sq m site, having bought it seven years ago.
The lengthy saga saw the site change hands five times in as many years following the closure and even when Martlet Homes, as the housing association was then known, took it over, the scheme ran into difficulties at the planning stage, with Arun District Council rejecting it and one councillor describing the proposals as “hideous”.
However, it was granted planning permission following an appeal in 2010 and in May, 2011, bulldozers demolished the old market buildings, in readiness for the redevelopment.
Austin Builders is the main contractor for the £5.3m scheme, which is expected to be ready for the first occupiers to move into their new homes in the autumn next year. Arun is pressing for local contractors to be given work, too.
There will be 24 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom flats, six three-bedroom and three two-bedroom houses, and a three-bedroom house fully accessible for a wheelchair. All will be available at “affordable” rents.
Arun District Council’s cabinet last week agreed to contribute £296,000 towards the development, from funds paid through section 106 agreements as a condition of planning permission for other schemes.
The council will have 100 per cent nomination rights for the new properties, enabling it to decide who should be the first tenants, and after that, 75 per cent rights to place people from its waiting list when the homes are re-let.
Arun will also receive £67,000 from the Government’s new homes bonus scheme which pays councils for developments in their area.
Andy Elder, Arun’s housing strategy and enabling manager, told the cabinet meeting that the market site would help the council move towards its target of 1,000 affordable homes being built in the district by 2015.
“There is a strong demand for affordable housing in the local area, with 293 households identifying Littlehampton as their priority preference area for housing,” Mr Elder’s report to the cabinet stated.
Roger Elkins, cabinet member for housing, said the council had identified a growing demand for two-bedroom flats. “Clearly, this scheme goes toward meeting the deficit we have for affordable housing,” he added.
Ricky Bower, cabinet member for planning, welcomed the prospect of 52 affordable homes, but said he still had reservations about the site, its lack of parking spaces and the pressure that would put on nearby car parks.
“The scheme itself is, in many ways, a mistake,” he claimed.