Members of the Ferring Conservation Group felt it would be a “disaster” if the application by Chandlers to use a six-acre site for a multi-use BMW centre including showroom and MOT testing facility, were approved.
They believed it would create unchecked urban sprawl and loss of a strategic gap, which they claim runs counter to Arun District Council’s planning guidance.
The site, which is prime grade one listed agricultural land, is practically all that remains of clear space between Ferring and East Preston on the A259, which residents believed should be protected, with alternative business locations examined.
Ed Miller, chairman of Ferring Conservation Group, said: “This site is listed farm land which is used for growing wheat and the area would be completely changed if it’s allowed to become a garage with car park and all its lighting.
“There is actually a site a mile down the road which could be used for this opposite Rustington Golf Centre.
“We now only have a very small amount of our strategic gap left and if this is approved we’ll just be left with things like drive through McDonald’s all the way between Brighton and Bognor Regis.”
Worthing West MP Sir Peter said he “fully supported” residents in their concerns, urging them to contact Arun District Planning department in writing before a deadline of February 21 to register their concerns.
He was joined by a number of other councillors including county councillor Peter Evans, who said he was extremely concerned by the siting of the application, stating there were a perfectly viable alternative a short distance away.
As he explained, this site already had permission for commercial garage use and would be far more appropriate.
He said: “We don’t want this area to just become urban sprawl and it is important that we retain our strategic gap, it is just not right for the local community.
“There are some road improvements coming here, but the route just cannot take the amount of traffic it has at the moment.”
Ferring resident Laurie Bishop said it would be “a disaster if this is allowed, as we already have chaos on the roads around here, especially with since the arrival of Asda”.
Olie Barleycorn, who owns Ferring Garage, added: “Once you build on land like this then you can’t turn it back to what it was.
“It will also impact on other businesses including mine. It may be BMW, but its MoT centre will be doing other cars as well.”
The Herald approached Chandlers for comment on its application, but it declined to do so.