Residents on opposing sides of the New Monks Farm debate have had their say as decision day on its development approaches.
Darren Stuart supported the proposals, including 600 homes and an IKEA, when they were announced in January, 2017 – subject to the backing of bodies responsible for issues like the road network and flooding.
Ahead of Wednesday’s planning committee meeting (July 18), he said: “The concerns of those that oppose the development are understandable, as this is about people’s lives, but planning for future population growth is equally about the lives of future generations. To convince me to change my view I was looking for information that proved that the mitigation measures proposed would be insufficient. Instead, I have seen little credible evidence and reams of identically worded letters but nothing that changed my initial view.”
Mr Stuart pointed to the lack of objections from West Sussex County Council and Highways England, adding that he was pleased to see conditions requested by the statutory bodies.
He said the underlying reason for his support centred not on ‘wanting meatballs and flatpack furniture’ but ‘real issues’ over the need for jobs and homes to support a growing population.
He was heartened by IKEA being a living-wage employer and offering a range of roles.
“The UK retail sector has seen the demise of many major high street retail jobs over the past few years,” he said.
“There is further uncertainty ahead and we need to create employment to replace the jobs being lost.”
On the contrary, news that the likes of the county council had raised no objection was met with bemusement by some. Lancing’s Bill Freeman, a member of organisations including Adur Floodwatch and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said he was ‘amazed’ by the lack of objections from the likes of the county council.
He said: “This application is the biggest on that has happened in Adur, I think, and it is highly sensitive. It’s got a lot of unresolved issues where questions haven’t been answered on all sorts of aspects.
“Questions from Adur Floodwatch haven’t been addressed.”
Mr Freeman claimed important plans had to be obtained direct from Highways England as they could not be located on the council’s planning website, delaying the ability for residents to scrutinise them.
He echoed the call of numerous organisations which had penned an open letter to the council, calling for the decision to be deferred.
He said: “I think genuinely there is a great concern that this is rushed because there is unquestionably not enough time to examine and look at all the key consultations from the statutory bodies.”