The vacant site, known as Hampton Quay, lies on a strip of land between the A259 and the River Arun.
Four apartment buildings between three and eight storeys could be built directly next to the river with moorings and a central courtyard.
Main access would be from the A259 Bridge Road Roundabout.
The site falls outside of Arun’s ‘built up area boundary’ meaning that is located within the countryside.
A report to Arun District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (September 8) cited evidence of ecological impacts.
It noted that, without measures being put in place, the development could harm or permanently deprive species including birds, lizards and water voles of their salt marsh and mud flat habitats.
Lizards will be ‘translocated’ and site clearance works will be timed to reduce the impact on nesting birds, says developer Hampton Quay Holdings Limited.
Ecology officers at the council are now satisfied that ‘biodiversity enhancements’ as part of the development would mitigate impacts.
The site is within a flood zone but developers say this is mitigated by ‘recently upgraded’ flood defences. Council officers added that ‘much-needed’ housing and retail outweighs the flood risk.
Littlehampton Town Council objected to the plans due to concerns over access, contributions towards healthcare and education by the developer and the proposed level of affordable housing.
ADC officers said the development ‘falls a long way short’ of meeting affordable housing requirements in the district with ‘no affordable rented homes’. The developer has been asked for a contribution from its profits towards affordable housing ‘elsewhere in the district’.
Clymping Parish Council also objected due to a potential impact on traffic, lack of access for pedestrians, and potential visual impact on the views towards Arundel.
Two objections were received which highlighted concerns about congestion between Wick Roundabout and Clymping Roundabout and increased pressure on local GPs and the Littlehampton Academy.
The developer plans to include a pedestrian crossing to aid access and is expected to contribute to local infrastructure.
Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) said: “I’m very supportive of the principle of this development and I would like to see it happen, albeit there are some issues that need to be dealt with.
“The actual access off the roundabout is repeating a mistake that has been made at the Wick Roundabout. Access to this development is going to cause a dangerous situation which has already happened elsewhere.
“I really can’t accept eight storeys adjacent to the bridge.”
John Charles (Con, Barnham) disagreed with Mr Coster’s remarks, saying: “I disagree entirely with what has been said about the roundabout and the eight storeys won’t interfere with any vision because you will still be able to see up the river.
“I’m quite excited about this, I think it’s nice and modern and a good use of the area.”
12 people wrote to support the development and said it was a ‘high-quality design’ which could help the economy and bring investment to the area for new facilities.
The application was approved subject to a ‘section 106’ agreement which would see the developer pay towards facilities in the area.
More information about the plans can be found at the Arun District Council planning portal using reference: LU/238/20/OUT.