Goring Gap development in Worthing: Council preparing for 'final victory' to protect Chatsmore Farm

Developers are continuing to lobby for permission to build homes on Chatsmore Farm – but Worthing’s council is standing firm.

Earlier this year, Persimmon Homes went to the Court of Appeal to challenge Worthing Borough Council’s refusal to allow 475 properties on the green gap between Worthing and Ferring.

A panel of three judges rejected the developer’s case, meaning the council’s rejection of the planning application stood.

This was the latest defeat after series of court challenges but the developer is ‘continuing to press for permission’ to build 475 properties on the green gap between Worthing and Ferring, the council said.

Persimmon Homes said in July that it was ‘naturally disappointed’ with the court’s decision, adding: “Our goal was to provide new homes in an area of extremely high housing need.

“The legal case has been focused on technical and procedural issues rather than the fundamental question of housing need. Nevertheless, we accept the judgment of the court and will not lodge any further appeals.

“As is required by the standard legal process, because the independent planning inspector was found to have made a procedural error, our planning application will now be reconsidered by a different planning inspector.”

However, the council said the matter will now be reconsidered by a new planning inquiry ‘at some point in the coming months’.

"Worthing Borough Council is preparing for what it hopes will be the final victory needed to protect Chatsmore Farm from developers,” a spokesperson said.

“The council has asked Persimmon to consider withdrawing its appeal but the company has refused to do so.

“The appeal will now be considered at a new public inquiry where the council can present a much stronger case after the adoption of the Worthing Local Plan – the planning blueprint agreed with government inspectors that sets out where new homes can and can’t be built.”

Worthing’s planning committee has ‘agreed new grounds’ for ‘why the application should not be allowed’. This includes that the development lies ‘outside the built-up area’, would ‘damage the designated green gap’ and would ‘negatively affect the setting of South Downs National Park’.

Council leader, Dr Beccy Cooper, said: “It’s really disappointing that Persimmon continues to push ahead with this appeal despite the local plan inspector agreeing with the council and our communities that it should remain an undeveloped green gap between Worthing and Ferring.

“We have had to spend significant time and money to defend the green gap in multiple court cases now, but Persimmon refuses to get the message.

“We know there is an acute need for new homes in Worthing, and we are working hard to get genuinely affordable, sustainable homes built in the right places.

“We have said it before and we will say it again - Chatsmore Farm is not for housing and we will fight to protect it.”

In response, a spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said: “We are pleased that the leader of the council recognises the acute need for more new homes in Worthing because that has always been what we are hoping to deliver, more affordable homes for local people.

“The council’s legal challenge was successful on the basis of a procedural shortcoming rather than a fundamental judgement on the issue of housing need or principle of development.

“The standard legal process, following this technical error, is for the application to be reconsidered by a new planning inspector and that is the process which is being followed by the independent Planning Inspectorate.”

In March 2021, the council rejected the planning application submitted by Persimmon but the housebuilder successfully challenged the decision at a planning inquiry. The planning inquiry's decision was subsequently quashed by the High Court after the council appealed against the ruling.

Persimmon then took its case to the Court of Appeal, to ask it to overturn the High Court's ruling and allow the 475 houses to be built on the 20 acres of land, which sits within the setting of South Downs National Park.

In June this year the Court of Appeal rejected the housebuilder’s case. As a result the appeal remains undetermined and will be decided by a new planning inquiry with a new planning inspector appointed.