Plans for 469 homes on western edge of Sompting approved

Plans to build up to 469 homes at the western edge of Sompting have been approved by councillors subject to conditions.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 4:06 pm
Artist's impression of homes west of Sompting

Persimmon Homes submitted a ‘hybrid’ planning application to Adur District Council which sought permission to build 96 homes in ‘phase one’ of the development, with outline permission being sought for the remaining 373.

The council’s planning committee gave the green light for phase one and for phase two in principle at a meeting last night (September 20).

This will be subject to a section 106 agreement – which outlines developer contributions – and an agreement about commercial vehicles parking at the development once it is complete.

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Vice-chairman of the planning committee Steven Chipp (Con, Southwick Green) said the development ‘fits the bill’.

He said:  “It fits the bill in terms of our local plan, and our need for housing – I like the design.

“I really like the touch of the orchard and, in terms of an open space, it warms the heart of a farmer’s grandson.

“We know the road is bad but this development only has to mitigate what they add to that. “

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Jeremy Gardner (Lab, St Mary’s) said he supported the plans and that any issues were ‘relatively small’.

“I’m delighted there’s going to be more money coming in for more pedestrian and cycle routes,” he said.

“I think it’s excellent that there will be section 106 contributions to make the bus service more attractive and improve them for people living on this estate.”

Dave Collins (Ind, Marine) said the ‘mammoth plan’ would take ‘fine tuning’, adding: “The 96 homes have been fine tuned and I’m sure the parking and other items will be solved somehow to everybody’s satisfaction.

“I find this application very supportive to the community.”

Introducing the plans, council officers said it was ‘a testament’ to the developer that the room was not ‘packed with members of the public wanting to speak’.

Since July, the updated plans have received 15 objections namely surrounding added traffic on the A27, pressure on existing services and environmental concerns.

Four did not object to the plans so long as support was given to mitigate impacts on local schools and Ball Tree Surgery, Sompting.

Officers confirmed that land had been acquired from Sompting Estates so that Bramber Primary School can expand and a £2million contribution could be made towards the school at the New Monks Farm development.

An emphasis has been placed by the developer on open space with 21 acres planned. This would include a publicly accessible community orchard and two youth football pitches, which will be handed over to the district council once complete as well as funds for upkeep.

Sports England had asked for changing facilities at the playing pitches but officers said £200,000 would be provided to construct separate facilities at Sompting Recreation Ground, adding that ‘most children turn up ready changed’ anyway.

Paul Mansfield (Con, Cokeham) and Tanya Edwards (Con, Southlands) questioned how often the pitches would be used, especially during winter. 

Mr Mansfield said: “Sompting Recreation Ground is well used by both juniors and seniors so has any survey been done to see if those new pitches will actually be used?”

Officers confirmed that demand for space from junior groups was on the rise and planning committee chair Carol Albury (Con, Manor) said there is a ‘desperate need’ for these pitches.

In terms of traffic, changed priorities at the West Street junction and entrance to the site along with traffic calming measures could discourage people from using the street as a ‘rat run’, said officers. They added that Dankton Lane will also be improved to mitigate queuing towards Worthing.

The ability to park commercial vehicles proved a sticking point for the planning committee.

Ms Edwards highlighted that existing Shoreham developments had restrictive covenants which prevented tradesmen and users of commercial vehicles from parking.

She said: “Increasingly people are using commercial vehicles as their only vehicle. Where will these people go?”

Mr Gardner said it was important for people who use vans to be able to park securely near their properties with Mr Chipp adding that they ‘should not be penalised’.

Council officers confirmed that this was not uncommon, saying: “We have had some developments in Shoreham where some commercial vehicles are not allowed to park on their own drive and therefore park outside the estate.”

Officers will now work with Persimmon to ensure this does not happen.

Mr Chipp also raised the issue of traffic, saying: “Junctions will continue to operate ‘over or close to capacity’ how can you be happy this development is going to mitigate these issues?”

A West Sussex County Council highways spokesperson said the development, and others like it, only had to mitigate impacts it had caused and said ongoing traffic surveys would be carried out.

If targets are not met, then measures should be put in place to encourage residents to travel sustainably.

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said the development would meet both national and local priorities with 141 affordable dwellings.

He explained: “We are in the midst of a national housing crisis and a lot of people can no longer afford to buy a home.”

He added: “The farm will create a health and wellbeing experience and natural enhancement.”

A representative of Sompting Estates said Persimmon had ‘jumped the gun’ and ‘not in a bad way’ by providing benefits for the community. This, he said, included setting land aside for the school early on, before planning permission was given.

“We think that’s good planning,” he said.

After the meeting, Brian Boggis, Adur District Council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “I’d like to thank the members of the planning committee for their diligence on this matter and for our planning officers for the negotiations which have led to this outcome, particularly the 30 per cent affordable figure which is 140 dwelling’.

“We all know there is great housing need in our area but the task is to ensure we can meet this need from local people while making development sympathetic to the area and secure investment from developers for infrastructure such as schools, road improvements and green spaces. This we have done.”

The application also includes proposals for the change of use of land south of Test Road, to the south west of the proposed residential development, to form a community farm.

The aim is to provide facilities for volunteers and visitors including a small scale café farm shop and training education and welfare facilities, plus a nature trail and links to the EPIC site further south.

The farm is to be provided by the Sompting Estate with its partner charity Sustainable Sussex. EPIC (Enhancing Places, Inspiring Communities) is a partnership between Sompting Estate and the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, aiming to involve the community in bringing a new watercourse, walks and wildlife into Sompting’s Church Farm.