Plans for two new commercial buildings at Shoreham Airport have been approved.
Councillors voted in favour of the outline proposal last Wednesday, with the specific design and use to be decided at a later date.
Initial plans are for a minimum of 15,000 square metres of ‘employment generating floorspace’, up to a height of 13m. It was recommended for approval by the planning officer.
Supporters said the development was vital to securing the airport’s future.
Concerns were raised around the damage to the ‘green area’ between Shoreham and Lancing, increased flooding risk and the aesthetic impact.
David Thurgood, director of Menzies LLP, the administrator of Albermarle Shoreham Airport Limited – which leases Shoreham Airport Estate – said the 300 jobs and revenue it would generate were essential to the airport’s survival.
“There is simply no further capital or revenue funding to keep the airport open,” he said.
“Any delay could ultimately see the closure of the airport.”
The planning report said the development will combine with the recently approved New Monks Farm application to ‘broaden the economic base’ of the area.
The airport will benefit from the new roundabout on the A27 being built as part of the IKEA plans, as well as the pumping station designed to minimise flooding.
Work on the airport is also dependent on the completion of the Adur Tidal Walls scheme.
In his speech opposing the plans, resident David Johnson accused developers Tavis House Properties of ‘corporate greed’.
“It is a shoddy, shabby and shameful application designed to aid New Monks Farm,” he said.
“We don’t have responsibility to the rich football clubs, but we do have responsibility to our residents.”
New Monks Farm Development is a subsidiary of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.
Resident Barbara O’Kelly called the buildings ‘monstrosities’ that would spoil the view from the Shoreham air crash memorial being installed near the Old Toll Bridge.
Set for completion this year, the memorial was designed to offer a view of ‘quiet contemplation’ across the River Adur and green area next to the airport.
Planning officer James Appleton said the application was ‘about balancing the environmental impact with the need for employment’.
Councillor Brian Coomber suggested incorporating a ‘green roof’ to improve the aesthetic and reduce the ecological impact.
Mr Appleton said a green roof would attract birds, which is unsafe for an airport, but pointed out the IKEA’s proposed green roof would provide an alternative habitat for any displaced animals.
The committee discussed reducing the maximum height to 10m, but this was also rejected on the grounds it may deter potential investors.
Motioning to approve the application, councillor David Simmons said it was the right choice if it would stop the airport from becoming an ‘industrial estate’.
The committee voted five to three in favour of approval.