DEFIANT councillors have rejected plans to convert part of a Pagham hotel to a shop.
They said the proposals for the King’s Beach Hotel would remove an asset of community value to harm the surrounding area and the intended changes to the front of the building would damage a heritage asset.
They also believed the loss of the ground floor to the convenience store would wreck the viability of the 11 guest rooms on the top two floors, to lead to the hotel’s closure.
The unanimous decision by Arun District Council’s development control committee overturned the recommendation from its planning officers.
Pagham Parish Council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall said the outcome would delight residents who fought to keep the hotel.
“It’s an incredible result,” he said after last Wednesday’s meeting.
“The fact it was 100 per cent was fantastic. It shows Arun is supporting the residents.”
David Huntley, chairman of Pagham Beach Residents’ Association, said: “It was a brilliant decision.”
The parish council had objected to the scheme by the national Co-operative Group, along with a 372-name petition and 20 individual letters of protest. One letter of support was sent to Arun.
Cllr Radmall had told the committee the King’s Beach Hotel on The Parade played a key role in the area’s economy.
“To lose the only established hotel at the seafront will deliver a blow to the holiday sector and economy of the village,” he said.
The hotel was important for the visitors who came to the seafront and Pagham Harbour nature reserve as well as those who stayed at Church Farm Holiday Village and spent £2.4m a year in the area.
Mr Huntley said: “We’ve already lost our post office, our butcher, baker, grocer and delicatessen. These have disappeared over the years but at least we have had our pub.”
Committee member Cllr Ricky Bower (C, East Preston) said: “It’s a prominent building, it’s an important building and it’s a major building as far as Pagham is concerned.”
Vice-chairman Cllr Dawn Hall (C, Pagham) said: “It would be sad if we lost the King’s Beach.
“I don’t see how, if a shop was downstairs, we would have hotel rooms upstairs – and we would lose hotel accommodation in Arun.”
Cllr Simon McDougall (I, Bersted) said: “We have seen too many pubs taken over by all sorts of supermarkets.”
It would be ‘carnage’ to wreck a fantastic 1930s building, he said.