Historic windmill to become apartments

Nearly 200 years of Barnham history was ended in less than two minutes.

Councillors approved the conversion of the village's 19th century windmill into housing.

There was no debate when it was the turn of the application by mill owner Barry Lee to be approved by Arun District Council's development

control committee last Wednesday (Jan 16).

Committee chairman Cllr Jean Goad made the only comment when she stated: "It's a sad day, I think, but the application is the best that can be done."

And that was it. The vote was taken in favour of the housing.

The required listed building consent to reflect the mill's status as a grade two listed building then took around 45 seconds to agree.

The mill will be turned into one house, the outbuildings, which included the former tearooms, will become two more houses and an existing house on the site was also included in the application.

Council planning officer Keith Wheway told the committee a legal agreement would ensure the restoration, retention and maintenance of the mill.

The deal included the sail, cap and fantail of the mill and the equipment contained within it.

Efforts by Mr Lee in the past two years to sell the mill on Yapton Road had been unsuccessful. "On this basis, it is considered that the principle of residential use is acceptable subject to consideration of normal development criteria...," he stated.

A strong objection to the proposal had been made by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. It stated the scheme would stop what was the only remaining example of a restorable tower windmill in West Sussex ever being restored to anything like its working condition.

Mills have existed on the site since 1086. The current mill has been a landmark in Barnham for 179 years.

Mr Lee bought it in 1994 after the structure was rescued from an uncertain future in 1989 by Eastergate man Vic May.

He mortgaged his house to outbid property developers and make the mill's restoration his ambition.

But he was unable to fulfil his dream and Mr Lee took over the ambition.

He spent 350,000 on extensive renovation. Among the work was the restoration of the sweeps – or sails – to give a traditional look to the building once again.

He opened tea rooms and a function room to serve villagers.

But a dispute over the cost of parking land caused him to shut the attraction in September 2005.