Worthing growth areas and protected green spaces identified in draft plan

Areas for growth and green spaces in need of protection have been identified in a draft blueprint that aims to guide the future of Worthing.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 5:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 5:43 pm
Worthing Borough Council has been working on a local plan, to guide the future of the borough, for the last two years. It has now published an initial draft of the document
Worthing Borough Council has been working on a local plan, to guide the future of the borough, for the last two years. It has now published an initial draft of the document

Officers at Worthing Borough Council have spent the last two years carrying out extensive studies to find every available parcel of land to ensure the right mix of housing, employment and recreational space.

While Government figures have shown Worthing needs 15,000 new homes over the next 15 years to meet demand the search has only identified enough land to provide around 4,000 dwellings by 2033.

These sites are allocated in the draft Worthing local plan alongside giving protected status to three key green spaces on the edge of the borough’s boundary: Goring Gap south, Chatsmore Farm between the A259 and the railway line and Brooklands Park.

The plan, which has been published so that it can be scrutinised by councillors, also aims to allocate new business space as well as protect key employment and retail areas.

It also looks at what infrastructure improvements are required to support growth in Worthing.

Public consultation on the document is due to start at the end of October.

Kevin Jenkins, the council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “Every resident, worker and visitor to our town will know that, due to our position trapped between the Downs and the sea, land really is at a premium in our area so it is imperative that we make the most of our limited assets.

“The draft Worthing local plan does this, focussing on providing much-needed housing while also seeking to protect some of our most valued open spaces and employment areas.

“I look forward to hearing everyone’s contributions on this initial document in the coming weeks and working with residents, businesses and other stakeholders before we submit our final version to the planning inspector later next year.”

Discussions around creating a new local plan for Worthing began more than two years ago.

During that time the Government released revised housing need figures which state the borough needs to create 15,000 new properties in the next 15 years to meet demand.

Even with the development of major brownfield sites such as Teville Gate, Union Place and Grafton Car Park coming forward, comprehensive evidence published to support the council’s first draft has demonstrated there is only enough land in the borough to provide around 4,000 dwellings.

Among those other areas allocated for development include land off Upper Brighton Road (123 homes), land east of Fulbeck Avenue (50) and part of the Northbrook Caravan Club site (75).

The 166-page document also indicates that there remain significant obstacles to developing other greenfield areas such as land east of Titnore Lane and land off Beeches Avenue.

Six Areas of Change (AOCs) are identified where mixed-use regeneration proposals are expected come forward in the plan period but are less advanced than other urban allocations.

These are Centenary House, the British Gas site in Lyndhurst Road, the Stagecoach bus depot, the Worthing Leisure Centre site, the HMRC offices in Durrington and land off Martlets Way.

The document also includes detailed policies on a range of planning issues, such as affordable housing provision, heritage, design, retail and the economy.

When adopted, these will be used when making decisions on future applications.

The next stage is for councillors to give their thoughts to the proposal at the council’s Planning Committee tomorrow (Wednesday September 19) before it goes to the Joint Strategic Committee.

Then, a six-week public consultation is planned when members of the public and other stakeholders can have their say on the proposal.

Planners will take on board this feedback before creating a final version which will be subject to further consultation before then being presented to a planning inspector towards the end of next year.

Once approved, the plan would be reviewed after five years in line with government recommendations.

The main challenge to the draft plan is expected to come from developer Persimmon Homes which own the two greenfield sites between Goring and Ferring.

However the council has produced evidence to back its case that the two areas should not be developed due to their landscape and biodiversity value and how they are viewed locally.

This approach is also consistent with the one taken by Arun District Council in its recently-adopted local plan.

Although higher density and taller buildings will be considered to maximise the use of developable land every scheme will have to be judged in the context of its site and the character of the surrounding area.