PLANS to turn offices recently vacated by South Downs National Park Authority staff, into homes have been given the backing of Midhurst Town Council.
Members of the planning committee were looking at an application to change the use of Hatton House and The Gables in Bepton Road to residential accommodation providing 13 one-bedroomed flatlets.
National Park Authority staff left the offices for new desks at their refurbished headquarters in the northern section of Capron House which has been named the South Downs Centre.
Chairman of the planning committee Gordon McAra told the meeting: “This site has come up twice before. We have had an application to change the use to a large house and accommodation but the proposal now is radically different.”
Glyn Upjohn told the committee although they had objected to the previous application for a change to residential use, he knew from his own experience that there was a shortage of one bedroomed housing in the area and he urged the committee not to repeat their objection.
Judy Fowler said: “Now we have sufficient office space in Midhurst and perhaps we should be looking producing more housing, particularly this type of housing.
“They are not going to do anything to the outside of the building. It is not a hideous block of flats and it would still be in keeping with the area.”
Mr McAra told the committee: “There is a major shortage of one bedroomed housing, not just in Midhurst but in the whole area. The purchase price of these flatlets would be the lowest you could buy in Midhurst.”
Colin Hughes stressed the planning committee was not changing its policy of opposing the change of use of offices to homes, but making an exception in special circumstances.
“This isn’t something we would normally do. We still maintain our policy, but we feel there is a need for housing.”
It will now go to park authority planners for a decision.