Residents were set to learn whether the first IKEA store in Sussex was to go ahead back in July – but councillors had other ideas.
Nearly 18 months after plans for the flatpack furniture specialist’s Lancing outlet were unveiled, Adur District Council’s planning committee met to discuss the plans.
But after a lengthy meeting attended by hundreds of people, the plans were left in limbo as the committee deferred its decision for further negotiations.
When is the meeting taking place?
A new date has now been fixed, with councillors to meet on Wednesday, October 3, at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy sports hall, in Upper Boundstone Lane, Lancing. READ MORE: IKEA plans recommended for approval
While the July meeting was held for discussion over plans for New Marks Farm in Lancing – with the application including the IKEA store, 600 new homes, a country park and an A27 roundabout – next month’s meeting will also consider an application for 25,000 square metres of commercial space, nearby at Shoreham Airport.
An Adur District Council spokesman said the two separate applications had several similarities.
“Given that the New Monks application and the airport application contain a shared transport and drainage strategy, it makes sense to deal with both applications on the same evening,” they said.
Why was the meeting deferred
Three months have passed since the planning committee’s debate on the New Monks Farm proposals.
It decided to defer a decision because of concerns about the appearance of the north elevation of the planned IKEA building and access to Coombes Road and the Lancing College. The school, which dates back to the 1800s, had objected to the scheme, warning plans could threaten its economic viability if approved. Read more: Residents react to IKEA decision deferral
Much of its concern centred around the change in access arrangements to its grounds. Click here for the full story
The Sussex Pad crossing on serves the airport south of the A27 and Coombes Road, which leads up to Lancing College, to the north.
The New Monks Farm project would see the junction replaced by a new roundabout, paid for in part by a government grant.
The roundabout did not include an arm to serve Coombes Road, with vehicles only able to turn left into the road and left onto the A27 eastbound.
A letter to the council from Lancing College claimed the change in access would add 690,158km per year in vehicle journeys linked with its main operations.
The committee heard that the developer had pledged its ‘best endeavours’ to including access for Coombes Road at a later date.
Technical consultees which had cast an expert eye over the fine details, meanwhile, said it was not essential to ensure the scheme was acceptable in planning terms.
Despite this, the committee still felt progress could be made by allowing time for more negotiations.
The council spokesman said: “The deferred time period has given the applicant time to address the two main concerns raised.
“It is up to the committee to listen to the information put forward from all sides and make a decision on both applications based on this evidence.”
What has happened since the last meeting?
A New Monks Farm Development Limited spokesman said work had been undertaken since July’s meeting.
They said: “Following the committee’s resolution in July, 2018, to defer their decision, revised drawings have been submitted to improve the elevational treatment of the IKEA building.
“This further demonstrates IKEA’s firm commitment to delivering the Lancing project.
“In addition, we are in ongoing discussions with Lancing College”.
IKEA has dominated discussion since it was first proposed, with hundreds of residents penning official representations.
The council’s planning portal received 1,374 objections and 127 comments in support.
Facebook groups for and against what would be Sussex’s first IKEA were also set up, with petitions and a protest rally organised.
The commercial space proposed at the airport has also attracted controversy.
What is the concern about the airport application?
The applicants, Albemarle Shoreham Airport Limited, is hoping to build distribution warehouses and large light industrial buildings along Cecil Pashley Way.
Addressing widespread rumours that an Amazon distribution warehouse could be part of the vision for the airport, a development spokesman said: “There are no discussions about Amazon going there. However, there are discussions with a number of significant local employers about expanding their businesses onto the site.”
Barb O’Kelly, of the Adur Residents Environmental Action group, compared the commercial buildings awaiting a decision to ‘large sheds’.
She said: “As you stand on the Downs Link pathway opposite The Amsterdam and look across the river there will be virtually no open view of the airport through the gap.
“After all the consideration given to the sympathetic placement of the memorial to the air crash victims by the Old Toll Bridge, the iconic and relevant backdrop of the airport will be obscured by the two huge commercial buildings.”
According to the public comments section of the council’s planning portal, a total of 58 objections have been received, compared to four in support.
One of the supporters, Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce, stated in a letter from president Chris Coopey: “We fully recognise and support the wider economic benefits the commercial development scheme will deliver for the Adur and Worthing local economy.
“The delivery of 25,000 square metres of much-needed new commercial space is vital in attracting new businesses and inward investment to the area.”
How you can speak at the meeting
The meeting will be held from 7pm at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy.
The council has now released details of the protocol for public speakers.
At the previous meeting, committee chairman Pat Beresford extended the usual limit on speakers, with various residents, groups and councillor having their say.
The usual limit on speakers has been lifted again.
On the IKEA plans, two representatives of organisations, societies or resident groups will be allowed to speak, as well as two members of the public.
In support, two people on behalf of the applicants will be able to speak, as well as two members of the public.
Lancing Parish Council has a slot, as do Mash Barn ward councillors, alongside other Adur councillors at the chairman’s discretion.
A ballot will determine who can speak if more people apply to speak than there are slots. Names will be drawn on Friday (September 28), selected by a random number generation process.
Applications must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01903 221006 by 12pm on the day of the draw.
Three speakers both for and against will be able to address councillors on the airport plans.
The parish council and the two ward councillors also have the chance to make a speech, in addition to Adur councillors at the chairman’s discretion.
Deadlines for applying to speak are the same as those for the IKEA plans.