Goring Gap fight: Reason for inquiry delay revealed after dozens join protest

A public inquiry to determine the future of the green gap between Worthing and Ferring has been delayed until later this year.

Proposals for a 475-home development at Chatsmore Farm were refused by Worthing Borough Council and have even been the subject of a High Court battle.

A new public inquiry on plans had been scheduled for Tuesday, February 6, as developer Persimmon continues to push to be allowed to build on the land.

"The Chatsmore Farm public inquiry will now take place in Worthing this autumn,” a council statement, on March 6, read.

"Persimmon Homes is continuing to push for permission to build 475 properties on the green gap between Worthing and Ferring despite the company losing a series of court challenges.

“The Planning Inspectorate had organised dates in February to hear evidence about the planning application but these had to be scrapped when the inspector involved became ill.

“It has now been decided that the inquiry will take place on 17th and 18th September, 24th, 25th and 26th September, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd October.

“The hearings will be held at Worthing Town Hall. They are open to the public and anyone can come along to listen to what is being said.

“Timings will be agreed closer to the inquiry and we will then share them with you.

“As a council for the community, we are clear - our green spaces are vital for our health and the health of our planet. This includes Chatsmore Farm and we are fighting to protect it from housing.”

It had been hoped that the start of the Chatsmore Farm public inquiry would only be delayed by one week, after the planning inspector fell ill.

This came after protestors gathered at the land to ‘form the word no’ on Saturday, February 3.

The event was organised by Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West. Click here to read more.

Dr Beccy Cooper, leader of Worthing Borough Council, joined with local residents, councillors, MPs and other members of the community, who ‘also feel strongly’ that this land should not be built on

Dr Cooper said: "Worthing Borough Council has consistently refused permission to build houses on Chatsmore Farm. Worthing is 95 per cent developed, with the smallest amount of green space per person in the country (less than a snooker table!)

"As we all know, green space is essential for our health and the health of our planet. Our requirement for homes here must now be met with our remaining brownfield sites and making better use of the housing and other buildings that we already have.”

Persimmon Homes’ original appeal against the council’s refusal was successful. After that subsequent decision was challenged, a court hearing was held on a ‘procedural matter’, Persimmon said.

A spokesperson for the developer added: "There is an acute shortage of new homes in Worthing which an independent planning inspector has described as ‘exceptional’. This shortage causes real problems for local people in need.

“Due to a procedural error, our original appeal which granted planning permission for this site is now having to be reconsidered, and we await the outcome of this process.

“We remain eager to deliver more affordable homes for local people in Worthing. This is why we have offered a local homes guarantee that will see a significant proportion of homes for private sale reserved for local residents.”

According to Persimmon, the local homes guarantee will see 40 per cent of all homes for private sale reserved for a period of six months for people with a local connection to Worthing, ‘as defined by the council’.

The developer said this ‘complements’ the 40 per cent of homes that will also be made available for shared ownership and affordable rent.

Worthing Borough Council said it has been clear that green spaces are ‘vital for our health and the health of our planet’.

"This includes Chatsmore Farm and we are fighting to protect it from housing,” a spokesperson added.