JOBS in Angmering could be in the firing line after news emerged that the landowners of the VHB West End Nursery could be seeking to redevelop the site for housing.
Workers at the nursery, which employs about 90 full-time employees, this week expressed concerns that their jobs could be in jeopardy after landlords West End Property Developers LLP held private development talks with Arun District Council.
The Gazette understands that the landlords have begun pre-application discussions with the council to assess the viability of building homes on the 16-acre agricultural site.
Three of the nursery’s anxious employees have voiced their concern on the website of the Save Angmering Village group, which is campaigning against three potential large-scale housing developments in Roundstone Lane, including the nursery site.
The workers issued a public appeal for help on the website’s petition page, all saying, “save my VHB job”.
Sue Ware, founder of the campaign group, said: “It’s a tragic thing to see.
“Over the past few days we have had more people from the nursery signing our online petition page, asking for help.
“It’s a crying shame. Not only does the nursery help to employ people within the village, it grows food and helps to positively boost the economy.
“If just one of these developments is given the green light, then the flood gates will be opened for a host of others.
“Angmering village, as we know it, will cease to exist. It’s a very real threat.”
Sue added that the nursery could see a further 200 homes thrown into the village’s housing dash, ramping up the total number of potential homes that could be built in Angmering, to about 700.
The two other sites identified for possible housing schemes in Roundstone Lane are Worthing Rugby Club’s land, and a site to the north of it, including Manor Nurseries, where Barratt/David Wilson Homes has plans for 301 homes.
Paul Cooper, managing director of VHB, responded to workers’ and villagers’ concerns by saying that no jobs were at risk in the immediate future.
“We have been aware of the possibility that the site may be developed at some point in the future for several years and have kept staff informed about developments as we have become aware of them.
“We are in regular discussion with the landlords and are aware that they are seeking a pre-application meeting with the council.
“However, while we will continue to evaluate all options for the future, our current rental agreement is to end in November, 2015. We will continue to liaise directly with all our employees as we become aware of any further developments.”