West Sussex taxpayers could face £3.2million tax bill for New Monks Farm primary school

Taxpayers could be hit with a multi-million pound bill for a school at New Monks Farm after the county council failed to rule out stepping in to pay.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 4:08 pm

As part of the 600-home development in Lancing, developer The Community Stadium Ltd – previously New Monks Farm Ltd – was told to provide £3.2million towards a primary school before planning permission could be signed off.

But West Sussex County Council has now warned funding ‘had yet to be secured’ and admitted the cost could fall on the council.

It recommended rejecting a motion raised by councillor Michael Jones calling for developer contributions to be enforced.

New Monks Farm plans. Photo: Adur District Council SUS-190313-121649001

Campaign group Adur Residents Environmental Action (AREA) said the rejection could have serious implications for taxpayers.

Member Bill Freeman said: “We have grave concerns that with their decision not to support councillor Jones’ motion, any final agreement by the WSCC cabinet on these monies will see the community being ‘short changed’ yet again with even more costs to be borne by the public purse for these much needed public amenities.

“The least we should expect from this inappropriate development is that these monies for public amenities are met in full by the developer.”

Read more about the ongoing IKEA development here:

Despite planning permission being granted for the development by Adur District Council last October, work cannot begin until legal conditions – called a section 106 agreement – are agreed.

It was hoped by campaigners, and mentioned repeatedly during the planning process, that the developer contribution for education would be written into the section 106.

An additional £2.8million of education funding is also being sought from a 520-home development in West Sompting, which is yet to go to planning committee. Until that is decided, securing the full £6million education funding will remain in doubt.

In a response to Mr Jones’ motion, set to be debated at a council meeting yesterday evening, the council’s executive director of place, Lee Harris, said: “The county council has been in negotiation regarding the S106 contributions towards education provision arising from the New Monks Farm development but has not yet reached an agreement on this matter.

“Further work is being undertaken by the county council’s appointed valuers to understand the overall viability of the New Monks Farm development and how this affects the ability of the developer to deliver contributions for education.”

It is expected funding and space will be made available through the sale of the Withy Patch gypsy and travellers’ site.

Controversy has surrounded the sale, with residents to be relocated to the edge of the development. Mr Jones’ rejected motion called for the sale to either be cancelled or the residents consulted.

The application also includes an IKEA superstore, country park, pumping station and new roundabout to replace the Sussex Pad junction on the A27. An agreement has already been made for £5.7million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to pay for the new roundabout.