The future of a rural car park has been secured – despite complaints that it is an eyesore and a blight on the landscape.
Retrospective permission for its continued use at a site west of the Ashcombe Roundabout, Ashcombe Lane, Kingston, was approved by Lewes District Council’s Planning Applications Committee last week.
Part of the field there has been laid with rough planings to form a hard surfaced area and can accomodate about 15 cars.
The car park has been in use since October 2011 and provides off-road parking, primarily for customers of the nearby burger bar which is located adjacent to the A27.
The applicant sought to retain the facility in a modified form, involving the erection of a post and rail fence to prevent use of the whole field for parking. Also, providing a shallower slope at the entrance to the site and a wider gated access.
Kingston Parish Council objected to the application. It wrote: “The hard standing is an eyesore and a blight on the landscape; if the car park had been properly constructed the people of Kingston would no doubt have been more supportive.”
The parish council said the site was conspicuous to village residents who access Ashcombe Lane on a regular basis, and the car park is only used by a few cars at a time.
One letter of objection had been received from a resident on the grounds that the litter problem associated with the burger van had got worse since the car park was established.
The Steering Committee of the Kingston Village Action Plan Group objected on the grounds that the field is an inappropriate location for a car park, with the “additional traffic” that it generates making what is already a difficult bend even less safe for vehicles.
However, a petition organised by the burger bar attracted 91 signatures of support. It was titled “Petition against closure of Kingston Free Car Park” and headed “We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our local council to act now to stop the closure”.
Members of the planning applications committee heard that at first the landowner did not readily submit an application to retain the car park and, in response, an enforcement notice was served against the unauthorised use.
The burger bar is a long-established local feature, popular with passers-by, and it seemed sensible to provide a small area for customers to park off-road.
The car park is considered to cause no material harm to the amenities of the locality, the interests of the South Downs National Park or local highway conditions.
Committee members agreed to go along with the recommendation of officers that planning permission be granted.