Thousands of new homes are needed in Worthing in the coming years – but council planners hope their strategy will protect the cherished Goring Gap.
Worthing Borough Council is preparing a new local plan, a legal document mapping out the vision for housebuilding and economic growth up until 2033.
Cabinet members were told on Tuesday (April 4) around 4,700 new homes could be built – 6,900 short of meeting demand.
Despite the shortfall, because of a lack of available land, the council currently hopes to avoid development of the gap.
Goring councillor Mark Nolan said: “It’s the matter of housing and housing numbers that causes so much anxiety and I think the important point is we cannot possibly meet these housing needs, supposing we build on every inch of land that’s left in the borough.”
The council launched a consultation last year, asking residents to share their views on various sites.
More than 70 per cent of the responses focused on Goring Gap, with residents expressing ‘strong concerns’ over development.
The council must provide strong evidence if it deems land unsuitable for development.
Officers indicated work to date meant the council would likely seek protection of the southern part of the gap.
Potential for development of the south-west corner of Chatsmore Farm – which forms the northern part of the gap – will be tested.
But officers stressed this was part of the evidence-gathering process and did not signal a green light for housing.
Martin Randall, director for the economy, said: “There are really important decisions to be made and the evidence we have to base that decision making on has to be really robust.
“Fundamentally it has got to stand up to the scrutiny of an examination in public.”
Leader Dan Humphreys raised concerns over the potential development of the Worthing United Football Club site, in Beeches Avenue.
He noted the site was also subject to a number of consultation responses.
He secured agreement from the cabinet to move it into the ‘protect and test’ category alongside Chatsmore Farm, instead of the ‘potential allocations’ bracket.
The 12 main ‘areas of change’ which the plan will envisage for housing or regeneration
- The Aquarena, Brighton Road
- Stagecoach, Marine Parade
- Grafton car park, Marine Parade
- Union Place, town centre
- Teville Gate
- British Gas site, Lyndhurst Road
- Martlets Way
- Decoy Farm, East Worthing
- HMRC offices, Barrington Road
- Centenary House, Durrington
- Worthing Town Hall car park, Stoke Abbott Road
- Columbia House, Durrington