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Adur & Worthing Update December 2020

15th December 2020

Despite the restrictions on normal life induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, developments in the planning world have been continuing at a fast and furious pace, thanks to Boris’s “Build, Build, Build !” agenda.

A major threat to our countryside is the Planning White Paper, whose consultation has recently closed, which proposed a set of major changes to the planning system. The changes all aim to make development much easier and more profitable but this is achieved at the expense of proper site assessment and the interests of local communities.

CPRE Sussex have spent much of the late summer and early autumn constructing careful, evidenced rebuttals of these proposals, now submitted as formal comments.  We have worked with wildlife and other countryside protection groups and canvassed our local councils including Tim Loughton MP who shares many of our major concerns.

The most important way the planning system can help reduce climate change is to ensure that the new homes are built with low carbon emissions, close to people’s work and the other services they need. Continuing to focus new building at highly car-dependent countryside locations is exactly the wrong thing to do. Unfortunately, while the government is making all the right noises about the general principles, almost every one of its White Paper proposals will achieve the exact opposite.

On a positive note, Adur District Council is leading on the Climate Emergency and has set up a Citizens Assembly and is mentoring other authorities in the South East.  We are encouraged by this and support their work.

Worthing Local Plan: the emerging Local Plan has been approved by the Planning and the Joint Strategic Committees and goes to the Full Council on the 15 December.  If passed, which is sure to be the case, it will go out for Regulation 19 Public Consultation on 26 January followed by submission to the Planning Inspectorate for examination.  We are working our way through the detail of yet another large document so at this time are unable to report on the full extent of the housing allocations and numbers.  However, of note so far are:

Chatsmore Farm in the Goring Ferring Gap is to remain as such in its open spaces policy.   This is good news. Persimmons and its proposed 475 Homes application will be coming to Planning Committee in January/February and this much-objected-to scheme is now highly likely to be rejected because it is an omitted site – not in the existing or emerging plans.   Community objections have been phenomenal – over 1200  submitted plus other submissions.  CPRE Sussex, in consultation with the two large conservation Groups in Ferring & Goring,  submitted its objections particularly picking up landscape and setting impacts on the National Park and heritage on the National Trust site immediately to the north.  CPRE will seek to address the Committee when it comes to the Planning Committee.

Titnore Lane: unfortunately, a site on the east side is being considered as a potential site in the emerging plan. This abuts ancient woodland and the National Park to the north.  We have more work ahead to oppose this site and are engaging with the Sussex Wildlife Trust.  As with Chatsmore Farm, this was an omission site but it seems the environmental/ landscaping impacts can be overcome!  We suspect desperation to meet housing numbers is at the heart of this.

Adur Local Plan: the five-year review to update the 2017 adopted plan is well under way. We gave comment on the Methodology to Planning Policy earlier this year but we were not asked to give comment on the updated Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) at that stage.

 However, we are concerned with two sites. The first is in North Lancing on the boundary with the National Park and the second a site within the existing New Monks Farm strategic site allocation.

Sompting: we will be submitting comments on the redrafted Sompting Parish Neighbourhood Plan which includes the  Adur strategic allocation for 520 homes in West Sompting. We have supported the Parish Committee and provided background notes to assist the Parish in submitting their own comments to Adur.  This application will undoubtedly receive approval but we have expressed concerns at the further loss of green land in the Adur and Worthing green gap, about the right landscaping treatments to lessen environmental and landscape impacts on the National Park and proposed that this application is an opportunity to create a crossover to solve the severance caused by the A27 between the South and North areas of Sompting, thus improving access to the National Park required in Adur’s Policy.

Updates on other matters/developments:

Good news – Adur has made two encouraging acquisitions of land to improve environmental/biodiverse assets of the district and for public enjoyment.  They are purchasing a 70-acre site in the Lancing Shoreham green gap. This is an omission site south of the New Monks Farm site called New Salts Farm purchased to preserve the land as a natural haven and to environmentally enhance and protect this green gap from future development. We are awaiting more details on the full plans for the site.

More good news – Adur is also approving plans to buy the 45-acre Pad Farm between Lancing and Shoreham, north of the A27/Shoreham flyover and turn it into a salt marsh habitat to encourage biodiversity at the site and strengthen its role in flood defence plans.   This will also be a significant enhancement of the 60 hectare SSSI in the Adur estuary.

New Monks Farm (NMF): 600 homes, an IKEA and country park with the relocated Withy Travllers community.  The latter community has just been relocated within their new site within NMF, with in our view, poor management by West Sussex County Council.

Cala Homes first 249 homes development is now well underway but keeps running into stoppages because the site has become a dangerous quagmire every time it rains. We have heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have even intervened to stop the work.

Existing Ash Trees: we have worked hard to engage with the Head of Planning and even the site management, to preserve the established Ash trees around this site’s boundary but Cala have felled all the Ash trees on the northern and western boundaries of the site.  Despite, as we pointed out, the Forestry Commission advice to leave them because of their environmental benefits even if diseased and sometimes they recover.  Understandably, there is much anger from residents whose back gardens are now totally exposed to this dirty and noisy  construction site and no attempt has been made by the Council to tell them about the felling or when the replanting is to take place, even following our attempts to engage with the Council and Developer.  Quite appalling in our view!

View towards New Monks Farm site before tree cutting
View towards New Monks Farm site after tree cutting

We are also alert to further tree clearance on another  6-acre site within NMF which is immediately north of the Cala site and owned by another developer.  This site is vital for North Lancing and A27  drainage and was left in  the Local Plan to provide compensatory biodiversity enhancement because of the NMF development.   Disappointingly, Adur is now in negotiation with a developer to permit 55 homes.  We will continue to challenge this and will ask for the developer to be reappraised of the sensitivities of the site and we will request a Tree Preservations Order be placed on the whole woodland. We are chasing and awaiting a response.

4th arm of A27 proposed rounabout to replace Sussex Pad lights junction: now submitted to both South Downs National Park Authority and Adur District Council. In our view, this is an environmentally and socially damaging route to link to Lancing College to improve their access with the A27 as agreed with NMF developer. We are engaging with all relevant bodies who objected to NMF (cycling/equestrian groups, SWT, residents groups) and with the South Downs Network.

Community Land Trust engagement: we have been approached by the recently formed Adur Community Land Trust who like CPRE’s Brownland First policy.  They are looking for small sites initially and we will assist them in making contact with their local and county authorities and encourage new membership to increase their numbers.

Bill Freeman

Adur & Worthing District Group