Castles Guest House at 6 Windsor Road applied for a ‘legal development certificate’ in August 2020, which it said would allow it to continue providing emergency temporary accommodation.
At a meeting on Wednesday (September 22), members of the board’s planning committee were asked if they would have approved the request at the time, to help WBC defend the appeal.
But, after hearing from the owner of 6 Windsor Road and surrounding residents, councilors said they would not have authorized the legal development certificate.
The owner of Castles Guest House said the premises had been used to provide emergency accommodation for “at least ten years” and therefore the request should have been granted.
But gaps in reservation records cast doubt on how many rooms were used for temporary accommodation and whether that was the locals’ sole purpose.
Agents said: “Although the length of the ‘rentals’ ranged from one night to over two years, it is clear that the accommodation was not intended solely for short-term or overnight accommodation. “
In addition, representations made by members of the public cast additional doubt on the history of the property.
One worker, who says she lives right across from 6 Windsor Road, said: “I worked as an intensive care nurse so I’m not easily shocked. But I have been since I saw what was going on in the house.
“They clearly have drug, alcohol and mental health issues.
“Until 2019, from what I can see, it was a bed and breakfast. Since it was taken over, there is no one to supervise.
She says the rotunda at the end of the road, which was barricaded, earned the nickname “the crack hut”.
She added, “In my opinion, you shouldn’t have so many vulnerable people living in the house – that’s not the right thing to do for this property.
Another Windsor Road resident said the “guest house” had a “daily impact” on his life with arrests, noise at night and cannabis smoke.
The owner said “no tourist or traditional guest would actually stay,” adding: “We strongly believe that this use [as emergency accommodation] has been around for over ten years.
He urged the committee to “consider the implications” for current and future residents of 6 Windsor Road.
Records show that Castles Guest House has been used by Adur and Worthing Councils as well as Brighton and Hove City Council to provide emergency temporary accommodation in the past, but it has not been enough to convince the planning committee.
Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford) said: “I haven’t seen much clarity on its use.”
He asked the owner why changes were made to the property in 2020 if it was already being used for emergency accommodation.
The landlord claimed it was to improve the accommodation and believed permission was not required. But he says the planning officer then wrote to say that planning was necessary and that the council recommended that a legal development certificate be sought.
The owner said he “made every effort” to comply with the advice and “improved the property” to make it a “decent home for the residents”.
They admitted that the residents of Windsor Road had been affected, but said: ‘We are really doing our best to support them. [tenants] and avoid evictions, which only serve to move the problem or the individual elsewhere.
Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said, “This needs to be resolved through a proper process.
“We are all aware of what is going on there and I am very grateful to the residents for sharing their stories with us. “
The final decision is now up to the town planning inspectorate