COUNCILLORS have approved plans to tear down six empty houses and replace them with 50 flats.

The development in Albion Street, Southwick, would have been bigger if it was not for a strip of unregistered land which cannot be built on running through the site.

Instead the site will house one block of 15 affordable flats, another block of 35 flats to be sold on the open market and six more flats in two converted semi-detached houses.

Each block will be four to six storeys high.

Adur district councillor George Barton said he was “mystified” that no one seemed to know who owned the strip of land, adding: “I didn’t think that was possible in this day and age.”

James Appleton, head of planning, said: “We have sought to try to register the land but you need to have significant evidence if you are going to lay claim to land.”

Planning committee members unanimously approved the plans.

The flats will include communal heating systems, meaning each building with have one central boiler which can be regulated by each flat. Both blocks will include solar panels.

All the affordable flats will be leased at 100 per cent social rent, rather than the more common 70 per cent rent, 30 per cent shared ownership.

The developer’s community contributions will include almost £8,000 for Southwick Library and more than £76,000 for cycle route improvements on the A259.

Brian Coomber said: “I have to complement our officers and the developers on what I think is a quite attractive building on this site.

“The use of two-colour brick is really important.”