HUNDREDS of concerned residents protested over fears of a large housing development being built on the strategic gap which separates Goring from Ferring.
The decision by housing developer Persimmon Homes to conduct a land survey of the gap for the development of 396 homes has provoked strong views from surrounding residents.
Geoff Fordyce, 66, of Green Park, Ferring, moved to the area eight years ago to spend his retirement years there.
He said: “I bought it with the view in mind and the peacefulness for my retirement and now it’s going to be the opposite, The quality of life won’t be very much with the housing estate next to me. I’m not too happy about it.
“What about the future generations? All these brownfield sites they have got, why are they not being forced to build on there? Where’s the employment for the people they propose to come here?”
Around 300 protestors gathered in Green Park, Ferring, on Saturday, and listened to speeches from both Ferring Conservation Group and Ilex Conservation Group, MP for Worthing West Sir Peter Bottomley, county councillor Peter Evans, Goring ward councillor Mark Nolan and chairman of Ferring Parish Council Carole Robertson.
Hugh Faithful, 70, of Green Park, said: “I’ve never seen that many people in Ferring at one time. You couldn’t move for people. This is something the village feels really strong about.”
It is rumoured that Green Park has been earmarked by Persimmon as the entry point to any potential development due to the road being highlighted on the survey map. According to Mr Fordyce, a surveyor said the plan was to widen the road.
Mr Faithful added: “This is an unadopted road. We can’t get out of our road in busy times as it is now with the railway line.
“This area is going to be absolutely grid-locked.”
Paul Esswood, 71, of Ferring Lane, Ferring, said: “We are worried about flooding, we have been notified as being in risk by the water company.
“The water builds on top of the soil and it comes down in streams into the garden around the house. If they build houses on it there will be a tremendous amount of water collecting on the properties that has to go somewhere.”
Ed Miller, secretary of the Ferring Conservation Group, distributed thousands of leaflets in the lead up to the protest and labelled the turn- out ‘extraordinary’.
He said:“We had an effective and good-tempered demonstration on how important this gap is to everybody on both sides of the gap.
“The gap is important not just to separate the communities but as a natural landscape.
“Our next step is to wait and see if Persimmon submit an application. I don’t think they will having seen our demonstration.”
Mr Miller said the gap had been ‘under threat from developers for a ‘very long time’ and Persimmon Homes were the ‘only people’ who wanted the development.
Following the protest, councillor Mark Nolan wrote a letter to MP Nick Boles, the parliamentary under secretary of state for planning, stating ‘tensions are running high’ and asked for his input into issues raised. He also asked Mr Boles to intervene if possible.