Goring Gap fight goes on: Protestors to meet and send 'clear and definitive message' ahead of public inquiry
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Proposals for a 475-home development at Chatsmore Farm have been refused by Worthing Borough Council and have even been the subject of a High Court battle.
A new public inquiry on plans is scheduled for February, as developer Persimmon continues to push to be allowed to build on the land.
“Despite losing a series of court challenges, the company has refused to withdraw its plans,” Sir Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for West Worthing, said.
"Ahead of this, we are coming together with fellow residents, students of St Oscar Romero Catholic School, local councillors and community representatives alongside regional and national broadcasters at 11.45am on Saturday 3rd February.
"We will send a clear message to the planning inspectors handling the appeal – Worthing and Arun communities say NO to Persimmon.
“With the help of a drone, we will form the word NO to send a clear and definitive message.”
Persimmon Homes’ original appeal against the council’s refusal was successful. After that subsequent decision was challenged, a court hearing was held on a ‘procedural matter’, Persimmon said.
A spokesperson for the developer added: "There is an acute shortage of new homes in Worthing which an independent planning inspector has described as ‘exceptional’. This shortage causes real problems for local people in need.
“Due to a procedural error, our original appeal which granted planning permission for this site is now having to be reconsidered, and we await the outcome of this process.
“We remain eager to deliver more affordable homes for local people in Worthing. This is why we have offered a local homes guarantee that will see a significant proportion of homes for private sale reserved for local residents.”
According to Persimmon, the local homes guarantee will see 40 per cent of all homes for private sale reserved for a period of six months for people with a local connection to Worthing, ‘as defined by the council’.
The developer said this ‘complements’ the 40 per cent of homes that will also be made available for shared ownership and affordable rent.
Dr Beccy Cooper, the leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “As a council for the community, we are clear – Chatsmore Farm is not for housing and we will fight to protect it.
“Putting housing on this site would damage the green space and South Downs National Park, and our local plan is very clear on this.
“The people of Worthing do not want houses on Goring Gap and it’s extremely disappointing that Persimmon refuses to accept that its scheme is wrong for our borough.
“We will repeat our case to the planning inspector at the inquiry in February in what we hope will lead to the final victory to protect Chatsmore Farm.”
Mr Bottomley asked those against the plans to meet at the entrance to Chatsmore Farm, to the north of the junction of The Strand and Goring Street at 11.45am on Saturday.
The MP added: “I invite all with an interest in protecting our cherished green spaces and divides to join with us. We hope that the media present will broadcast our message far and wide.
“Bring your family, bring your friends, bring your neighbours. Together, as one united community without divide, we say NO to Persimmon.”
Last month, Mr Bottomley – Conservative MP for Worthing West – invited Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner to the area, following reports the Labour leader had indicated he would 'bulldoze' local objections to building proposals – ‘even if local people and local councils had strong objections to a field being covered with houses’.
This came after Michael Gove – the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – said the UK Government ‘needs to ensure’ that green gaps such as Chatsmore Farm are protected.