Permission has been given for 42 self-storage units to be set up in Ferring, despite objections from three parish councils and a conservation group.
The application, for land at the former McIntyre Nursery, was approved at a meeting of Arun District Council’s development control committee last Wednesday (October 3).
It will see the polytunnels which are currently on the site demolished and 42 single-stack containers put in their place, as well as an office and toilet in a portable building, new fencing, gates, CCTV and lighting.
Objections from Ferring, Kingston and East Preston parish councils all pointed out that the area had been designated for agricultural use in the Arun Local Plan, adding that the storage units would ‘fundamentally affect the landscape’.
In addition, the council received 14 letters of objection, with concerns including the effect lighting levels would have on the Highdown Conservation Area and national park, traffic levels and fears the containers would be stacked.
Members were assured the latter would not happen.
There were also 13 letters of support, which said the change would improve the view, provide jobs and was ‘better than housing’.
Addressing the meeting, Stephen Abbott, of Ferring Parish Council, urged members to refuse the application to ‘protect this environment from unsuitable, creeping industrialisation’.
Colin Oliver-Redgate (Con, Ferring) said the application was a ‘severe test’ of the National Trust criteria, Arun Local Plan and Ferring Neighbourhood Plan.
Echoing Mr Abbott’s words, he added: “I feel it’s a creeping industrialisation of this site which is so close to the national park.”
While expressing sympathy for the view, Philippa Bower (Con, Rustington West) pointed out that the storage units were not as tall as the polytunnels and would be painted green, making them ‘visually less intrusive’.
Members expressed concern that trees bordering the site, which currently screen it from view, could be cut down.
Barbara Oakley (Con, Middleton on Sea) suggested the application be deferred until they were ‘absolutely satisfied’ the trees could be protected.
While the suggestion was not taken up, it was agreed that planning officers would look into the possibility of placing tree preservation orders on some of them.
Members voted to approve the application.