It has now been given permission to add to that extension, which is still being built.
Arun District Council planning officers said the change, which will add one storey to the rear of the building, would not ‘significantly alter the appearance of what’s been approved’.
But some district and parish councillors were not at all happy at a development control committee meeting on Wednesday.
Colin Oliver-Redgate (Con, Ferring) said the application was ‘clearly a gradual intensification’ which he felt was ‘contrary to the development plan’.
He added: “A lot of time was spent on that development plan and it would be a shame to see it abused in any way.
“The application gives the impression it’s by stealth and must be stopped in its tracks. Piecemeal applications affect the visual impact and can lead to further intrusion if this application is granted, with a carte blanche programme for further expansion.”
His views were shared by Stephen Abbott, of Ferring Parish Council.
Mr Abbott said the applications submitted for the site over the years – including extending the dealership to the north and west – were ‘unlikely to have been supported’ if they had been submitted in one go.
David Bettiss, of the Ferring Conservation Group, added: “It is another example of application by stealth.
“It’s very hard not to assume that the various piecemeal applications were part of a long-term plan by the applicants to circumvent the planning system.”
But Stephen Haymes (Con, Yapton) gave that idea short shrift.
He said: “We can’t look into the future. We can’t see what might happen or might not, whether these people want to come back again or some one else in time.
“We have to take that when it comes.”
There have been ongoing concerns about transporters parking on the A259 to unload cars to be delivered to the showroom.
Steven Duffy, speaking for the applicant, said the new application would not increase the number of deliveries to the site.
Mr Duffy told the meeting that the work at the site would allow the company to relocate offices from ‘uneconomical and unsustainable’ locations elsewhere.
He added: “The proposal should be considered neither piecemeal nor inappropriately intensive as, located above the currently approved workshop footprint, the impact of this development from the A259 and the wide street scene is negligible.”
Chairman Richard Bower (Con, East Preston) was unhappy with the encroachment on Highdown Hill over the years – which is an ancient Saxon burial site.
He added: “It’s unfortunate the planning inspectorate have decided they know better than the locals who know the history of the area.
“But that is what we have to live with, I’m afraid.”
However Mr Bower agreed with Mr Haymes assessment and the application was approved.