Adur & Worthing District Update June 2022
CPRE Sussex activity in Adur & Worthing District
Local Plan – 5 year update
We are still awaiting the authority to announce its consultation dates on the local plan update (Regulation 18). Previous words with the policy planning officer were that this would be published in the 1st quarter of this year. So, once again, this has slipped. The new version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) scheduled by Government to be available this July together with the new Planning Bill in process through parliament at present may be the reason for this slippage. On previous discussions with the officer it was confirmed that changes to planning policy during its preparation meant revisiting all the work done to bring it into line with these later requirements. However, the policy planning officer has just confirmed that a new timeline for this and the plan process will be announced shortly.
Within the SHLAA document which lists potential sites which have come forward for the update CPRE has identified two sites which we will be challenging – more details below.
The Conservatives held the majority for Adur District, but they lost three ward seats to Labour and the Greens. However, because of a reduced majority, an additional seat was added to the planning committee for the above non majority party members which hopefully will mean a better balance on decisions, particularly for contentious development applications.
Whilst, CPRE has not generally submitted comment for town based applications, there is much public concern for sustainability of some recent pre- election development approvals. The new cabinet member for regeneration has announced his actions about public concern and is making efforts to meet the public and key community organisations to listen to their comments. Hopefully, this will lead to better decisions for any forthcoming major developments, particularly in Shoreham where buildings up to 9 floors have already been approved, totally against the character of this delightful town.
Future Concerns for loss of green space & natural habitat
Two potential development sites in the SHLAA for the updated local plan are cause for concern.
A six acre site, known locally as the Horsey Fields to the north west of the New Monks Farm development, is now owned by a developer who received encouraging words from the head of planning as a site which the council is now listing as potentially yielding 35 homes. There is much local opposition to its development. Apparently because it is within the built up area boundary and within the New Monks Farm application boundary, despite the current plan policies and evidence clearly saying this is to be enhanced as a Biodiversity Action Plan area, those words of encouragement resulted in Pathway Development acquiring the site in 2019. This site is a haven for wildlife with an acre of woodland and is home to deer, badger, foxes, bats, birds of many species and has running through it key drainage ditches which are vital for North Lancing and the A27 drainage. Because of local community objections and council insistence that access to the A27 must be through the New Monks Farm development, Pathway have decided to sell the land to Cala homes who are the company building the 600+ homes on New Monks Farm. Unfortunately, this now eases the way on the access problem where Cala Homes had originally resisted giving access. CPRE will be vigorously challenging any application and inclusion in the local plan update.
Another is a 2 acre site in Mount Way which backs onto the South Downs National Park in North Lancing. Once again, this site is populated with trees and is the natural habitat for wildlife with pathway links to the Local Nature Reserve above it around the Lancing Ring. We have heard third party comment that the National Park has concerns about its development. Pre the boundary agreement in 2010 for the formation of the National Park, this site had AONB status which has magically disappeared since the boundary re-alignments. Once again, CPRE will be challenging any application and inclusion in the Local Plan Update.
Shoreham Airport 25,000 Sqm commercial development. This outlined approved development in the north east of the airport came before planning committee in February to consider the reserved matters for drainage, landscaping and colour scheming. CPRE once again expressed its concern that this major development would have been more appropriate to have been located on the south side of the Airport in line with the commercial development along that boundary. However, it acknowledged that the developer was endeavouring to reduce the visual impact of these up to 12m high buildings by use of colour scheming which blended in with this expansive green area and its Grade !! listed Art Deco Terminal building.
We supported their use of earth colours (greens, browns) for the elevations but requested a more sympathetic colour for the roof expanses. Because of views from the National Park, SDNPA had come down, surprisingly, on the side of two grey colours for the elevations. However, it was delegated to the Head of Planning to negotiate with the Nat Park and approve a suitable scheme. Since the meeting, Southern Water have raised concerns regarding a mains water supply which runs through the site where re-routing or a new layout may be required. Also, more work is required on the foul waste outflows because of local sewer network capacities and the fragility of the network into which the airport output flows. There is no further update on the progress of these delegated matters or even a decision notice from the meeting on the Adur Planning Portal.
New Monks Farm Development is progressing with the first two phases of 250 homes well under way. The first 100 have now been sold and in many cases occupied. Apparently, this site which shares a boundary with the Mash Barn estate had experienced drainage issues last winter despite much lower than average rainfall/groundwater levels. A special assessment is to be made on the site which is built on made up ground. Impacts on drainage was one of the key issues CPRE raised and campaigned against for New Monks Farm in the Local Plan 2017 development and the subsequent planning application.
Currently a reserved matters application is being considered for phases 3 & 4 for the 350 homes which have outline approval. Cala homes have submitted their plans to uplift this from 350 to 384 homes by reducing the number of high end market housing to build a greater number of ‘smaller affordable’ homes. CPRE is looking to assess this application and make comment where appropriate.
Regarding the withdrawal of IKEA who had purchased the 20 acre commercial site, this international retailer is now marketing this but have agreed with Adur that they will not sell it for retail use. Adur, despite completely ignoring their Local Plan for a B1 classification for the commercial space within NMF when considering the IKEA submission, had urged IKEA not to sell it to a retail audience but to B1 commercial applications. We wait to see the outcomes in these straightened economic times!
Although delayed, work on the new A27 roundabout, its link roads into the site and the realignment of the adjoining carriageways is now underway, as is the environmentally and socially damaging 4th arm of the roundabout for Lancing College access. The works are planned to take at least 12 months to complete with the inevitable disruption to the public and traffic.
West Sompting Development. At the present, there is no construction on this 469 homes site with its community farm and recreational playing fields The first phase is for 100 homes which received full planning approval. CPRE will make further comment as the site comes forward in its various stages.
South Down National Park – The Shoreham Cement Works The National Park has announced a public consultation on creating development proposals for the derelict Cement Works above Shoreham on the A283. This is a highly complicated site where financial viability, road infrastructure, contamination are just a few of the issues to manage. What the configuration of the site will be is opened up for public comment. Whatever format is adopted finally will see no more than 200 homes within a development and none will be affordable because of the financial viability of the site. Whatever the scheme, Government money will have to be sought to bring it forward but there is much work to be done. Public comment is welcomed. Here’s the link to the consultation documents.
This site will have regional implications plus impacts on places like Shoreham in Adur and other townships/villages in the Horsham District. One eighth of site sits within the Adur District and seven eighths within Horsham District
CPRE are working towards their considered comments which will be published when complete. The deadline for public comment is the 2nd August 2022.
Local Plan update
As informed in the last update, CPRE was an invitee to the Update Local Plan examination by an inspector of the Planning Inspectorate. We gave evidence against two greenfield sites. One is located outside the built up area boundary west of Worthing – a 60 homes proposal within an area east of the Titnore Lane which connects the A27 southwards to the A259 Littlehampton Road through Ancient Woodland in the National Park. The other. a Persimmons homes site on the eastern boundary with Adur for 123 homes just below the A27 in.the Upper Brighton Road south east of the Lyons Farm retail park.
In January, the initial letter from the Planning Inspector confirmed that the Titnore Lane site should be removed from the Plan because of impacts on the Ancient woodland and Local Wildlife site which it actually sits within. This was welcome news.
However, further information from the inspector confirmed that with landscape mitigations he agreed with the council, the Upper Brighton Road site should remain in the Plan despite our arguments of coalescence with the conservation area of the Sompting Village and its listed buildings .and impacts on landscape views from the National Park to the north.
With final comments his latest input regarding the 475 homes site called the Chatsmore Farm were that this should be excluded from the Plan for sustainability reasons of transport, impacts on heritage and landscape aspects of the National Park/Highdown Gardens to the north and left as a greenfield site, complying with Worthing’s spacial policies for the plan. An application for this site had been unanimously refused by planning committee in March 2021. There have been further developments which are covered below.
The final decision notice from the Inspector and Plan approval is expected in July.
Historically a Conservative led council, at the May elections, Labour took control of the Council. with a landslide victory giving them 23 of the 37 seats. It will be interesting to see how planning, action travel and natural environment matters evolve in the next 4 years,
Chatsmore Farm. As mentioned in our last update, Persimmons homes submitted an appeal against the planning refusal of this 475 homes development
CPRE submitted a paper arguing the strength of the local plan policies with the evidence of similar appeal decisions as to why it should be refused. despite the council’s shortfall on its housing land supply targets. We argued that current policies nullified the default position that the ‘tilted balance’ to approve should not be invoked because of those policies strengths.
The appeal was held in January prior to the final approval of the local plan which is expected in July. Despite the Local Plan Inspector already accepting Chatsmore Farm as an exclusion site in his initial and further comments, the other inspector for Persimmons speedily rushed through his findings and upheld the Persimmon’s appeal to approve the 475 homes site. The emerging plan update and existing plan policies were given no weight in his decision.
Worthing BC had no alternative other than to raise a legal high court challenge against that decision particularly as in the emerging local plan, this site was to remain an exclusion site. The court hearing for the council is in July and there is every hope that the approval of the Persimmons appeal will be quashed and the 30 hectare greenfield site will be preserved
So for Worthing, July is an important month with both the expected decisions on their appeal court hearing and the final approvals of its local plan update.