Adur & Worthing District Update September 2019

26th September 2019

Latest update on strategic developments in Adur: New Monks Farm IKEA, West Sompting’s green space development and more, plus Worthing district news and new climate change commitments.

Adur: CPRE Sussex has been campaigning on a number of strategic development applications in Adur District and shown below is their current planning status.

New Monks Farm: 600 homes, an IKEA (75,000 sq m), a country park, a 240 pupil entry level school, a new roundabout junction on the A27 and relocation of a 12 ‘mobile homes’ community.

This is a highly complex development proposal being imposed on green space within what was the Lancing/Shoreham Strategic Gap which has been redefined and reduced within the Adur Local Plan 2017.

Following approval by the District Council in October 2018, this major ‘out of town’ planning application was referred to the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Communities for his approval, refusal or ‘call in for a public re-examination. Seven months after its submission in May 2019, he advised the District Council that he thought they were best placed to manage this locally. CPRE Sussex, the local MP and 225 other bodies and members of the public had written to him with their major concerns regarding: increased flood risk and foul waste management, increased A27 road gridlock, air pollution, sub-standard cycle/pedestrian routes and diminished access and landscape impacts to the South Downs National Park. In our view, the local authority also failed to comply with many of the policies set in their own approved Local Plan (2017). All these concerns were submitted to the Local Authority before the application was placed before Planning Committee and essentially disregarded.

Currently, there is a delay preventing this project from progressing. Section 106 monies to fund public amenities have to be legally agreed and signed before a final approval decision can be issued. The developer, a subsidiary of Brighton & Hove Albion, is refusing to agree a £3.2 m fund with West Sussex County Council (WSCC) for the building of the new school and enhancement of an existing secondary school and sixth form. The financial viability of the development is the problem and WSCC are undertaking an independent assessment of the financial status of the project. It is also unclear whether funding will be coming forward to support the Police, Fire Service, Libraries and other such facilities.

So, at present, New Monks Farm is in a ‘state of limbo’ and its progression is unclear. IKEA’s involvement in this development is absolutely key to enable revenues for infrastructure funding. With this international company’s new business model for ‘click & collect’ sales and smaller high street store locations, will this major flag ship £60m venture in Lancing fit with their new approach?

Other concerns which have arisen since the planning approval last year include the ability of the tidal sluices at Shoreham to cope with drainage. With the accelerating rate of sea level rise predicted as up to 0.8m within 10 years – will the site and the whole of the Lancing area, served by the same ditch network/sluices, continue to be drained sustainably – even for a period of up to the next 10 years?

In addition, with the recent Ofwat action against Southern Water, should not the specification for the sewage management for New Monks Farm be re-examined? The scheme proposes connecting to an already failing sewer in extreme weathers with loss of facilities for residents, manhole surges, road disruption and effluent in the roads.

Shoreham Airport: 25,000 sq m of commercial units on the north east area of the airfield.

This development was also referred to the Secretary of State with that for New Monks Farm. These two developments are inextricably linked because of the common proposals for road and drainage infrastructure. This application was also referred back to the Local Authority. Until the New Monks Farm application is given final approval, this commercial development cannot be approved and move forward.

CPRE Sussex has strenuously campaigned against both the above applications and during the Local Plan preparation. CPRE Sussex was also a participant in the Government Examination of the Local Plan in 2017 where major concerns about both these applications were put forward.

West Sompting: this application seeks planning permission for up to 520 homes, a community orchard/growing space, associated landscaping, open space / recreation areas, formal playing pitches, ecological enhancements including improvements and extension to Cokeham Brooks Local Wildlife Site. Also change of use of land south of Hamble Recreation Ground to community/education and agricultural/horticultural uses associated with a new Community Farm

This totally green space application calls for full planning permission and road access infrastructure for the first of the 100 dwellings with outline permission for the remaining 420 to be built over a subsequent time period.

The application was submitted in Springtime 2019. There were concerns about the housing and road layout for the first 100 homes and regarding the lack of sympathy with this area in terms of housing character and design which failed to capture the spirit of the nearby conservation area of Sompting Village. The Adur Conservation Group (ADCAG) expressed these concerns which supported the Planning Officers’ findings. Persimmons Homes were asked to go back to the drawing board. They re-submitted further plans for which the Officers have once again asked for further work to be done. Those further plans are still awaited.

CPRE Sussex have not yet consulted on this application but will do so when the final amended plans are to hand. Once submitted, the Case Officer has confirmed there will be another formal consultation period.

Sompting development once again gives rise to particular concerns of increased traffic gridlock and air pollution on the A27. It will further compound problems which will arise from developments at New Monks Farm and the Airport to the east and other developments to the West in Worthing.

Steyning Road/Shoreham Gateway: 52 dwellings on grazing fields under and south of the Shoreham Flyover along the A283 western access to Shoreham.

This site was put forward but excluded from the Adur Local Plan. Before and at the Local Plan Consultation/Examination, this exclusion was supported by CPRE Sussex particularly because of impacts on landscape views and setting of local historic assets. The Planning Inspector agreed that this land should remain undeveloped for these reasons.

The Environment Agency’s Tidal Walls Scheme (£26m) affected both the southern portion of this site plus the installation of a flood protection bund which runs at right angles from the river across the breadth of the site. This work has now been completed. The council was therefore able to bring this 2016 application to planning committee this September together with the later evidence. The good news is that it was refused unanimously by all the members. Reasons for refusal – impact on landscape views, damage to the settings of listed historical assets, noise impacts and road safety aspects for prospective residents and lack of local sustainability for access to local amenities.

20 Firle Road: North Lancing: 9 dwelling application on a 4 acre back garden plot which shares a boundary with the South Downs National Park.

This smaller application was originally refused by the Adur Planning Committee in July 2018 because the proposed development, by virtue of its scale, siting and design, would fail to reflect the prevailing character of the area and would have an overbearing impact upon the local environment and the amenities of neighbouring properties. At that time CPRE Sussex gave verbal guidance to local residents in their objections to the proposal.

In May 2019, the applicant raised a planning appeal against that decision. The residents asked CPRE Sussex to submit their comments of objection to the Planning Inspectorate to support the Council’s decision. CPRE honoured the request agreeing with the above reasons for refusal but also by putting forward evidence that the biodiversity of the site was inextricably linked to the Local Nature Reserve/Site of Nature Conservation Interest in the National Park behind the site. Previously, the 4 acre plot had also been classed as a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty before the redefinition of the boundary of the park was established in 2010. Boundaries may have changed but characteristics of that site had not. Development there would be severely detrimental to the wildlife within the site and the National Park itself. This is another reason for upholding the Council’s decision to refuse. We are awaiting the Planning Inspectorate’s decision on this appeal.

Land East of Manor Close, Lancing: a 5 acre greenfield, intensively biodiverse area of grazing land within the New Monks Farm development application.

Policy 5 of the Adur Local Plan stipulates that this site must be left for biodiversity enhancement as part of the mitigation for the New Monks Farm development which is located immediately to the east. The land contains mature woodland where a number of cypress trees already have Tree Protection Orders. The land also carries key drainage ditches which serve the drainage for the whole of North Lancing and the A27 which runs immediately north of the site. The land is known to have recently changed hands and there may be an intention to develop with 50/55 homes. Site surveying has been noted. CPRE will be vigorously oppose this development if and when an application is submitted.

Worthing:

Worthing Borough Council is developing their Local Plan to cover the next 15 years. Submission to Government is projected to take place in 2019/20. Predominantly, most prospective allocations within the draft plan are reworkings of existing brownfield sites.

CPRE Sussex submitted comments for the recent draft consultation on one greenfield site. Recommendations were also made to strengthen the policy wording in relation to the management of biodiversity.

Land West of Fulbeck Avenue: CPRE requested that this be excluded because of the impact on the adjacent wildlife site.

Last month the Authority announced an emerging agreement with BoKlok (jointly owned by Skanska & IKEA) to develop this site with 160 affordable flats which will be constructed using pre-fabricated units. 30% of these would be retained by the Local Authority to assist the social housing need. This will mean the elimination of considerable woodland on that site and CPRE will be submitting further objections to this proposal when the application comes forward.

Upper Brighton Road: this site is grazing land which is located to the east of the existing built out boundary of east Worthing within the strategic gap between there and Sompting. Whilst not having objected to this site in the consultation, CPRE will be submitting comment if this is included in the Local Plan and comes forward as an application because of the strategic gap sensitivities and its location just south of the A27 and the National Park.

Climate Change: both Adur & Worthing District Councils have agreed to declare a Climate Emergency in the wake of the growing public concern.

Bill Freeman for CPRE Sussex Adur & Worthing