A controversial application to build an IKEA superstore and 600 homes at New Monks Farm, Lancing, has been recommended for approval by planning officers.
Adur District Council’s planning committee are due to meet on Wednesday, October 3, to have a final vote on the proposed development – after deferring their decision at a previous planning meeting in July.
As well as the furniture superstore and 600 homes, the proposal from New Monks Farm Development, a subsidiary of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, also includes the provision of a new roundabout on the A27, a country park, land for a school and a community hub.
Planning officers have published a final report ahead of next week’s meeting, recommending the application for approval.
The report reminds councillors of the ‘difficult balancing act’ required in ‘judging whether the public benefits of the development outweigh the harm identified to the setting of the National Park and the Local Green Gap’.
The report states: “The level of commercial development is significantly above what was envisaged by the adopted Local Plan and the extension to the built-up area has impinged on the extent of the Country Park.
“Nevertheless, there are material planning considerations here which could justify a departure to the adopted Plan.
“The viability assessment has demonstrated that the proposed IKEA store is necessary to unlock both the housing land and the commercial development at the airport in view of the significant infrastructure costs involved with a comprehensive drainage and transport strategy.
“On balance, it is considered the public benefits of the scheme would outweigh the harm caused notably delivering a key strategic housing site (including 180 affordable dwellings), unlocking significant employment land at the airport and providing up to 430 jobs.”
When the planning meeting was deferred in July, IKEA was asked to carry out further work in relation to the environmental impact of the proposed store and the applicant was asked to undertake further discussions with Lancing College about providing a fourth arm to the new A27 roundabout.
The planning report states that the applicants have reconsidered the north elevation of the IKEA store and have submitted a revised plan which includes grey triangular ‘fins’ designed to filer views from an elevated position.
However, IKEA was not prepared to replace the IKEA sign on the north elevation, according to the report.
Since the previous meeting, the applicants have continued to negotiate with Lancing College about the fourth arm at the roundabout.
Heads of Terms have been prepared by the applicants to form the basis of an agreement with the College to work together to deliver the fourth arm to serve Coombes Road and it is hoped this agreement will be in place before
the meeting next week, the report states.
A planning application for 25,000m² of commercial space at Shoreham Airport, which will be considered at the same meeting, has also been recommended for approval.
Planning officers said in the report: “This is a controversial proposal given the very prominent nature of the site in both landscape and heritage terms.
“The applicant has worked closely with Officers and the South Downs National Park to increase the level of mitigation...However, the proposed mitigation would not overcome the harmful impacts of the development on both the landscape and heritage assets.
“The harm has been identified as ‘less than substantial’ nevertheless, clear and convincing arguments for justifying this harm have to be demonstrated.
“The public benefits are economic and social and are compelling given the lack of employment floorspace and the need to improve the economic performance of the District and the Airport itself.
“The public benefits are also related to protecting the long term future of the airport.
“Continued investment into the airport is dependent on the approval of the new commercial floorspace.
“As the airport directly benefits the setting of its assets and is historically important thus an important material consideration.”