New homes in green gap between East Preston and Ferring would cause 'great harm'
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More than 100 objection letters have been lodged after the resubmission of a planning application Seaward Properties to build 47 houses – 14 of which affordable – off Kingston Lane, just south of Somerset Road.
It came after Arun District Council, in April, refused an application for 48 houses at the site.
Developers have addressed what they perceive to be minor issues, by removing one house from the proposal. The applicant said the concerns over affordable housing, drainage and disabled parking have been addressed but the issue of loss of grade one land ‘remains but does not outweigh the benefits’.
Commenting on social media site Nextdoor, an East Preston resident wrote: “A new planning application has been made. Now all the hard work starts again to stop it.”
Ed Miller – secretary of Ferring Conservation Group and convenor of the ProGaps Alliance – is among those to submit an objection letter.
He said the new proposal is ‘barely distinguishable’ from the previous application.
Mr Miller added: “One of the ten reasons for refusal was that the development was wrongly sited in the countryside and would fail to enhance the character and appearance of the site, contrary to a number of policies in the Local Plan. It was also contrary to Policy SD SP3 which protects the gaps between settlements, one of these gaps being the East Preston to Ferring Gap, within which this development would be placed.
"Another reason for refusal was the loss of grade one agricultural land, and the failure to provide any compelling reason why the proposed housing estate had to be located in those fields. Significantly, the agricultural assessment now submitted by the applicants actually confirms the grade one classification.”
Mr Miller also highlighted the ‘traffic implications’ for Kingston Lane, which ‘are perfectly obvious to local residents’.
He explained: “The highway authority advised that the previous application presented no problems of highway safety (which baffles us) but they did not say anything about the congestion in that lane or, the long delays at the level crossing to which it leads. This is already a problem, and it would be made even worse by building 47 houses on the east side of Kingston Lane.
"There have been two significant events since the previous application was refused. One is the construction of a housing estate in the north-west corner of the East Kingston – Ferring Gap, considerably narrowing this gap. It must not be narrowed any further.”
Mr Miller also drew attention to comments made by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in the House of Commons in October.
In answer to a question from Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, Mr Gove said: “Of course, his beautiful constituency – situated as it is between the sea and areas of outstanding natural beauty – has already seen significant development and we do need to ensure that settlements have the green belts around them protected.”
Mr Miller said this is a ‘clear statement’ of UK Government policy, which gives the council ‘whole-hearted support’ to reject the application.
He added: “[It] recognises the great harm that would be done by allowing this development to go ahead, compared with the benefit of a small addition to the housing numbers.”
The developers argued that Arun District Council is unable to demonstrate an ‘adequate supply of housing land’ and it has been demonstrated that the scheme brings benefits to housing and land supply that ‘significantly and demonstrably outweigh the limited harm identified’.
They said the development will bring significant economic and social benefits to the area.
"The site is not within, nor has an impact on, an area of asset of particular importance,” the developers wrote.
"The site represents sustainable development being located on the edge of East Preston, where it will be possible for residents to use non-car means of transport to access the primary school, local shops and other services.”