New Monks Farm – can the Secretary of State see sense?

25 October 2018 | Posted in Planning , Laura Brook
New Monks Farm – can the Secretary of State see sense?
Image courtesy Tim Loughton MP

By Laura Brook
Conservation Officer

Whether or not you’re a fan of flat pack furniture, you're bound to have heard about the possible arrival of the big IKEA in Lancing.

The story so far

Long before IKEA was officially on the table for this site, the Sussex Wildlife Trust was engaged in the consultation process for the Adur Local Plan, which determines where development will be located in Adur District. Right from the outset (2013) we were concerned about this particular site’s capacity to deliver sustainable development. This is because the site acts like a green sponge and is criss-crossed by a network of ditches that feed into the Adur Estuary SSSI. Biodiversity records confirm the significant value of this site to wildlife, while its location tells us of its value as a green stepping stone in the wider wildlife network of Adur District.

Frustratingly, despite our opposition, the site did progress to the next stage in the planning process.  This saw a policy drawn up to develop the site and Sussex Wildlife Trust worked hard to try and ensure that the natural environmental would be given a fair deal alongside the proposals for housing and commercial space. 

Our continued efforts helped to secure a policy requirement for at least 28 hectares of the site to become a Country Park.  Given the size of the proposed development, we knew that this Country Park would be required to fulfill lots of different needs; from space for wildlife to flood alleviation, space for recreation, cycle paths, footpaths, biodiversity mitigation, quiet areas, busy routes, landscape buffering and much more, so the bigger it is, the better chance it has of being successful in delivering these many functions, whilst still being a haven for wildlife.

When a planning application arrives on our desk, our primary focus as a Wildlife Trust has to be the biodiversity impacts but it was clear from the start that a number of wider concerns would also need to be addressed.  Many local groups joined together to highlight the ways in which this proposed development was a departure from existing planning policy and failing to be sustainable - whether this was the failure to sufficiently address sustainable transport issues, concerns about the growing impacts on air quality or delivery of local infrastructure such as schools and flood alleviation, or the unacceptable impact this application has on the South Downs National Park, which is amplified by the South Downs National Parks Authorities continued objection to the proposal. 

All of these matters and many more besides ignited fierce debate and clearly illustrated the importance of a strong alliance between the various environmental organisations in Sussex.  We are really proud to work so closely with colleagues in these organisations to ensure that key environmental messages are conveyed as strongly as possible.

The outcome

Following two Planning Committee meetings, one of which saw the application deferred due to the environmental impacts of IKEA on the South Downs National Park, the development was eventually approved by a vote of 5 to 3 in a very emotionally-charged sports hall, filled with people both for and against the proposals.

As it stands, the approved application significantly exceeds the policy's commercial space requirements by delivering a huge 31,099 square metres; it meets the minimum housing numbers; and yet it fails to deliver the agreed 28 hectares of Country Park, instead scraping in at just 25.5 hectares - and there is still an outstanding objection from the South Downs National Park Authority. It is incredibly frustrating when so many people work so hard to get a policy in place, only to see the approval of an application that departs significantly from it, bringing the whole system into question.  We support a plan-led system and believe that councils must uphold the Local Plans and policies that were agreed through this democratic process.

So, where do we find ourselves now?  

Following the Planning Committee's decision to approve the application, the alliance of local groups who remain concerned about this application are now mobilising to ask the Secretary of State to call in the application. What does this mean?  In simple terms, it offers an opportunity for the application and the information that supports it to be scrutinised by the Secretary of State, who will then decide whether it should go ahead or not.  

If you'd like to get involved, the time to act is now 

All the information about the call-in process, the many reasons behind the request and how you can add your voice to the call can be found on the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) website.

Comments

  • Pearl Carter:

    25 Oct 2018 17:37:00

    So much of our wildlife is under threat. This is yet another one.

  • Elaine Sephton:

    25 Oct 2018 18:51:00

    God knows we dont want it! Save our green spaces. When everything has gone extinct…we cant eat £ coins!

  • Belinda Webb-Blofeld:

    25 Oct 2018 21:06:00

    We are losing too much of our precious green belt. The South Downs needs to be protected at all costs – and to be prioritised ahead of cheap furniture and a few low paid jobs!

  • Steven Denver:

    26 Oct 2018 07:00:00

    Hi I am writing to object to the new IKEA project in Lancing being built next to Shoreham airport as it is a natural green space boundary between Shoreham and Lancing and Sussex Wild life would be effected. Please reconsider this application many thanks Steven Denver

  • Dr Iain Allan:

    26 Oct 2018 07:56:00

    This application is inappropriate and will destroy an important wildlife habitat and rare green space along the coast.

  • PAUL FARMER:

    26 Oct 2018 09:24:00

    This is a very poor decision. There is plenty of derelict land that can be used. Also the future of retailing is on line so the need to destroy the countryside has now gone.

  • ben olszewski:

    26 Oct 2018 11:00:00

    Approving the application in an area of Natural Beauty and not having done anything to sort the congestion issues that already exist makes this a very badly though out project. Why make an area so beautiful a massive car park and create un needed pollution.

  • Trevor Smith:

    26 Oct 2018 11:05:00

    Flood risk . Traffic congestion and loss of space for precious wildlife and still the council vote for this. Please look at this again before it is to late.

  • Julian:

    26 Oct 2018 11:22:00

    The whole idea was unrealistic from the start. A danger to our ram packed A27 which is taking decades to improve with still no answers approved. The busy airport location and development are so dangerously close to each other. I fully support Sussex Wildlife Trust in bringing a review of the development before it costs too much.

  • A.Driscoll:

    26 Oct 2018 12:08:00

    I was advised that there was a policy to shoot the deer, supposedly to stop them interfering with aircraft movements! Hearsay and uncorroberated, but the deer are not as obvious as they used to be.

  • Valerie Gilbert-Pollard:

    26 Oct 2018 15:32:00

    I am very worried about the flood risk as this area absorbs much rain water runoff. Not enough thought has gone into this aspect alone. Our roads can’t cope , surgeries no more capacity, no school as was promised. The wildlife will suffer terribly and all for a get rich quick scheme for a few low paid jobs and houses that could be built elsewhere. I realise we need housing and jobs but is this the answer. I think not. Please reconsider for future generations sake.

  • S Yates-Smith:

    26 Oct 2018 16:36:00

    Having sat in traffic on the A27 for 40 mins the other day out of rush aand eventually passing by the proposed site for Ikea and housing. Total madness.

  • Jacqueline Phelan:

    26 Oct 2018 16:48:00

    It is entirely wrong that this speculative development has been approved. Despite the fact that this is a floodplain- and an important wildlife site- it would appear that money and profit are more important. This development does NOT meet local needs for properly affordable housing, and also necessitates the residents of Withy Patch Travellers Site being compulsorily relocated to an appalling site for children. The salt flats and flood plain should all be part of the sssi categorisation.

  • margaret muirhead:

    26 Oct 2018 18:10:00

    We don t need it , we need green spaces , don t destroy the home of all the marsh animals. Also double bubble I kea is making furniture from trees in the ever shrinking boreal forest which circles the Arctic.

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