‘Eyesore’ site will no longer be renovated by the parish

LH 191214 Halewick site in Sompting. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141219-235817001
LH 191214 Halewick site in Sompting. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141219-235817001

THE LONG anticipated revamp of the redundant Halewick Lane site in North Sompting is no longer in the pipeline, the parish council has revealed.

The project identified exciting proposals for an equestrian centre, educational facilities, small recreational unit workshops, tourist information and café, but the plans now must be dropped as Sompting Parish Council hits a brick wall.

Parish councillor and chairman of the steering group, Sharon Wood, said: “The project, which had the support from residents and West Sussex County Council, would have transformed this disused site, which everyone agrees is an eyesore against the surrounding South Downs landscape.”

In an official statement from the parish, it states that the project was to be launched through a community right to build order under the new Localism Act.

To fund the initial work required for the order, the parish had received the approval for grant funding.

However, one of the criteria for the grant was that the project did not require an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

As the site was within the National Park, that authority said the project required an EIA, which has now prevented the parish from proceeding.

Mrs Wood continued: “Residents had put up with this site for many years with no obvious movement to do anything to alter that situation.

“The parish wanted to use this new order to create a completely different environment and having the opportunity to benefit our residents.

“It is therefore with regret that due to the grant funding being withdrawn, the parish has to abandon this great initiative.

“Hopefully, the county council will take on the mantle and produce plans for the site which will benefit Sompting residents and be in keeping with the site’s surroundings.

“We await with interest,” she added.

At the parish council’s full meeting on December 10, chairman Barry Mears said: “It’s a no no, we can’t do it within the rules.

“Now we’re going ahead with the neighbourhood plan without it.”

Also at the meeting, Mrs Wood said: “I know that the county council are now looking to the future of the site. I just feel disappointed that we were not able to do something ourselves.”