Part of Goring Gap could soon be subject to a developer’s application to build nearly 500 homes.
Preliminary documents submitted to Worthing Borough Council signal Persimmon Homes’ intention to lodge outline plans for Chatsmore Farm – greenfield land between Goring and Ferring.
Conservation groups and politicians have long opposed development of the site, while a recent consultation document on the borough’s local plan noted building would have ‘significant and detrimental’ effect.
Castle ward councillor Luke Proudfoot said: “I am completely opposed to such a large-scale development on Chatsmore Farm and will do everything in my power to defend this land from such development.”
WYG, consultants for Persimmon, have asked the council whether a detailed environmental impact assessment is required.
It proposes to develop 19 hectares of the 30.5 hectare arable site, with homes built south of the Ferring Rife, which dissects the land.
WYG’s initial surveys claimed the land had ‘low ecological intrinsic value’ but noted potential for it to support a number of protected species.
It noted the site could ‘potentially’ offer a suitable habitat for great crested newts but it was ‘unlikely’ they were present.
Slow worm and common lizard were present during 2014 surveys but WYG said numbers were ‘low’ and areas of tall grassland would be ‘sensitively managed’ for reptiles.
In an online statement, David Bettiss, chairman of Ferring Conservation Group, said they would liaise with other groups to deal with the ‘very unwelcome issue’.
Goring councillor Mark Nolan said: “As kind as it is of Persimmon to continually think of the housing needs of Worthing, local people have made it quite clear that the Goring Gap, both north and south, is not an acceptable solution.
“However, I would thank their agent for reminding us in its report of the tranquillity, wildlife, ecology, landscape and visible impact that would be lost forever if they push for the sites development and how sad that would be.
“I am sure if they reflect upon their own assessment they would come to the same conclusion.”
Persimmon has been invited to comment on its intentions.