After a heated discussion yesterday afternoon, the development control committee at Arun District Council voted to approve the six-pump petrol station with 12 filling positions to the left-hand side of the superstore’s car park in Littlehampton Road.
It had previously been rejected by the committee due to a jet wash facility which ASDA applied for that councillors felt would have created too much noise pollution for residents living in the nearby.
While ASDA removed the jet washers from this latest application, some committee members felt the pumps would still be too noisy, fumes could blow into people’s gardens and the 5m-high canopy would create light pollution.
However, because the main reason for refusal last time was the jet washers, other councillors felt there were no grounds to refuse it this time.
Six councillors voted for the plans, three abstained, and three voted against it.
Roger Elkins, district councillor for Ferring, objected to the plans at the meeting. Speaking after the decision, he said: “Clearly, members of the planning committee had differing views on it, but it was disappointing that not enough members where there to refuse it.”
He urged ASDA to consider residents’ concerns as construction begins, adding: “They are a large organisation, and I would hope they would gave careful consideration to any further concerns from residents if they wish to play a role in the local community.”
The petrol station will be fully automated, and operating hours were restricted between 7am and 10.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sundays and bank holidays to minimise impact on neighbouring homes. But as fuel tanker delivery times range from 6am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 7am to 11pm on Sundays and bank holidays, councillor Barbara Oakley felt this defeated the point.
Steve Roberts from ASDA also spoke briefly at the meeting, saying that for the last six to 12 months they had been working with the council to ‘overcome noise, lighting and highway issues’.
Susie Blakeney from Bennett Gardens, which backs onto the site, also objected, saying the petrol station would cause ‘irreversable damage’ to her family and neighbours. She said: “144 vehicles per hour are predicted to use the petrol station, stopping, starting, doors opening, daily refuelling, increased security risks... this will be largely detrimental to the enjoyment of our properties 24 hours a day.”
After the meeting, Stephen Abbott, Ferring Parish Council vice-chairman, said he was ‘disappointed’ ASDA did not relocate the petrol station site to the right of their land, further away from residential properties.
Another issue raised by councillors was that the ASDA store itself was only approved because it was set back from the A259 – but this petrol station would not be.