CONCERNS are mounting that more than 80 jobs could be in jeopardy if vital plans to build a new car dealership on a stretch of protected land in Angmering are rejected.
Motor dealers Chandlers BMW, which employs 88 people across its four sites in Angmering and Rustington is seeking to construct a new six-acre multi-use BMW centre, at Roundstone Farm, Angmering to replace its other ageing facilities.
The firm’s franchise director, Martin Walsh, claimed the move would save the jobs of all those currently employed across the sites, which he says are “bursting at the seams, too expensive to run, and are no longer fit for purpose”.
Mr Walsh suggested the development to create the new purpose-built centre would also create a further 30 or so jobs for local people, as well as freeing up space at its current Angmering base, in Water Lane, for a proposed small-scale housing scheme.
Jobs ‘undeniably’ lost
He said: “This is all about growth in our business but more than that, it’s about the continuation of our business and the reality that jobs are in jeopardy here.
“We employ 88 people currently, with most of those living locally in and around Angmering.
“We have the potential, with this new site, of employing 110 to 120 in the area, which would be a significant boost to the economy.
“But without this expansion those jobs would, undeniably, be lost.”
However, the application – which will be considered by Arun District Council next month – has concerned members of the Ferring Conservation Group, who argue that the development would infringe upon a protected stretch of prime grade one agricultural land.
Ed Miller, chairman of the group, said the motor complex would have a “critical impact” on the protected strategic gap between Ferring, East Preston and Angmering.
However, Mr Walsh said that only two per cent of the strategic gap would be developed and any construction work would be “sympathetic to the surrounding countryside”.
Speaking to the Gazette, Mr Miller said: “It’s a crucial two per cent we are talking about. We have already lost five or six per cent to Asda.
“The problem with all this development along Littlehampton Road is that it is incremental. Soon we will have an urban expanse, stretching from Ferring to Goring.
“It will turn the area from semi-rural into suburban and that’s unacceptable.”
The planned centre would see MoT facilities, a showroom and valet service all under one roof, instead of being spread across the current sites.
Mr Walsh said: “We have been in the local community for 30 years and I would like to see us here for another 30. But in order to do this we need to relocate to a new site. This site will have significant benefit in terms of prosperity of the local area.
“The building will be built in a sympathetic nature that won’t infringe drastically on the strategic gap and the move out from our current site in Angmering, which we hope will be replaced by a number of private and social housing, will return the ‘village’ feel of Angmering’s centre.”