Gaps between Worthing and neighbouring settlements ‘will not be built on’

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A planning inspector has said that two areas of Worthing green space should not be officially designated but planning officers insist they will still be ‘strongly protected’.

Worthing Borough councillors heard on Tuesday (9 February) that the area’s draft ‘local plan’ is in the final stages before adoption.

It has been a lengthy and costly process which officers described as ‘a considerable draw on the planning budget’.

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If adopted, it will steer development across the borough until 2036 by setting out what is required from developers and how housing targets can be met.

The Goring Green Gap, Adur And Worthing CouncilsThe Goring Green Gap, Adur And Worthing Councils
The Goring Green Gap, Adur And Worthing Councils

But the council was told to remove two areas – which had originally been designated as Local Green Space – from the draft plan.

This came from the planning inspector in charge of scrutinising the local plan to ensure it is sound and legally compliant.

Their advice was to remove designation for both Chatsmore Farm (also known as the Goring Gap) and the Goring-Ferring Gap, with only Brooklands retained.

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The leader of Worthing Borough Council, Kevin Jenkins, said: “We’ve obviously fought robustly the Chatsmore Farm appeal that the planning committee turned down.

“This administration will fight for the residents to ensure that Chatsmore Farm, the Goring Gap, and Brooklands will not be developed on.

“As far as this administration is concerned, those gaps will not be built on – that is our pledge to the people of Worthing.”

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Designating an area as Local Green Space would give it protections similar to green belt land.

The Now Defunct Map Of Designated Green Spaces Included With The Draft Worthing Local PlanThe Now Defunct Map Of Designated Green Spaces Included With The Draft Worthing Local Plan
The Now Defunct Map Of Designated Green Spaces Included With The Draft Worthing Local Plan

This aims to keep it ‘permanently open’ and therefore makes development at these locations ‘inappropriate’ – with exceptions.

A Local Green Space is usually identified by the community as being important due to its beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquillity, or wildlife.

But, in an advice letter in December, the planning inspector said designations should not be used as a ‘back door’ way to achieve ‘green belt by another name’.

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They concluded that designating Chatsmore Farm and the Goring-Ferring Gap as local green spaces was ‘not appropriate’.

However, the planning inspector added that the areas can be designated as green gaps instead.

Development at these sites would be ‘carefully controlled’ and ‘permitted only in exceptional circumstances’.

There are currently four areas designated as ‘green gaps’ in the draft local plan: the Goring-Ferring Gap, Chatsmore Farm, Brooklands and the allotments, and land east of Upper Brighton Road.

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Planning officers said that inclusion would see ‘a strong level of protection for these sensitive and valued areas’.

Mr Jenkins said an up-to-date local plan was key to avoid ‘abuse by developers’.

Without an up-to-date plan councils risk speculative development proposals in addition to losing planning powers.

If approved by Full Council, modifications to the draft local plan will go to a six-week public consultation in March.