Nearly 18 months after plans for a major housing development and Sussex’s first IKEA were announced for Lancing, decision day is approaching.
Next week, Adur District Council’s planning committee will meet to decide whether development of New Monks Farm will be approved or rejected.
The meeting is the culmination of a process which has ignited public debate, with hundreds of residents and numerous organisations having their say.
In a special Q&A below, we cover everything you need to know about the plans and next week’s meeting:
When and where will the planning meeting be held?
Wednesday at 7pm, at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, in Upper Boundstone Lane, Lancing. The venue, which holds around 500 people, has been specially booked because of the high level of interest.
What do the plans entail?
The application seeks permission for 600 homes, a country park, relocation and extension of the Withy Patch gypsy and traveller site, a non-food retail store and a pumping station.
The development will be accessed via a new roundabout on the A27, resulting in the closure of the Sussex Pad lights, while the first 249 homes will served by a temporary access through the Mash Barn estate.
The application mentions provision of a community ‘hub’ and space for a primary school but plans for these are only in outline form, so full details will be provided in a later application.
Where is New Monks Farm?
It is a large area of land immediately west of Shoreham Airport. It also shares a boundary with the A27 and Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club’s training facility.
Who is behind the plans?
New Monks Farm Development Ltd is a subsidiary of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.
The club’s executive director Martin Perry has acted as the development spokesman throughout.
How many residents have objected?
According to the council’s planning website, more than 1,350 letters of objection have been received from individuals and scores of people attended a protest rally in May.
Impact on the A27, flood risk and impact on the South Downs National Park are among the key concerns.
Cycling groups have also criticised a bridleway link between the park and the development as ‘sub-standard’ in the face of losing the Sussex Pad as an important crossing point.
How many residents have written in support?
A total of 125 support letters have been penned.
Do those figures tell the whole story?
Not entirely. Petitions, both for and against, have also been lodged. Social media groups have been awash with debate. A ‘Yes to IKEA’ Facebook page outstrips the number of official support comments with more than 700 members.
The ‘No to IKEA’ page has just 87 likes by comparison, although nearly 700 people are members of the New Monks Farm Development discussion group, with concerns discussed daily over a range of issues.
More people have officially objected than supported. Does this mean the plans will be rejected?
In short, no. There are lots of factors to consider, not just residents’ comments.
The council also has to consider the thoughts of organisations, known as statutory consultees, including Highways England, West Sussex County Council (flooding and traffic) and the Environment Agency. These so-called experts’ thoughts are an important part of the picture.
If, for example, it raises no objection to an application on traffic grounds, the council must provide sufficient evidence to challenge its conclusion. Typically this can be tricky, particularly when it comes to issues like traffic, as consultees will consider detailed technical data, but is not impossible.
How do the consultees come to their conclusions?
Each one will consider and scrutinise information submitted by the applicant.
For those responsible for technical aspects, like highways, flood risk and drainage, they will consider their own guidelines and regulations set out by the Government in order to make their decision.
In terms of the impact on the A27, for example, they have to consider whether the traffic arising from the development will create a ‘severe’ impact on the network – the plans do not have to solve the road’s existing issues and, in theory, they could worsen them and the application still be approved, so long as the impact was not judged to be ‘severe’. The county council said it will also use decisions made at relevant appeals to determine what ‘severe’ is.
What do the consultees say about this application?
There are dozens of consultees but, among them, Highways England has asked for numerous conditions to be imposed if plans are approved, including securing improvements to the A27 – namely at the Manor roundabout and new access roundabout. The county council, as lead flood authority, raises no objecton, also subject to conditions. Its submission states its conclusions were reviewed by a consultant given the scale of the plans.
On highways matters, it also raises no objections. The South Downs National Park Authority does object, arguing plans ‘fall short of mitigating the major adverse harm identified on the character’ of the park.
When will IKEA open?
If approved, it will be a while before IKEA is built and open to the public. When plans were announced last year, mid-2019 was the anticipated opening date but the application has taken longer than initially expected to be considered, so the date would likely be later.