Campaigners against plans for a new car showroom and workshops on farmland at Angmering staged a demonstration outside a public exhibition on the scheme.
About 20 members of the Ferring Conservation Group protested outside Angmering Village Hall on Thursday afternoon (November 8), when BMW and Mini dealer Chandlers held a display outlining its proposals.
They were among about 200 people who attended the exhibition, which set out Chandlers’ plans to relocate from its present sites at Water Lane, Angmering, and Ash Lane and Dominion Way, both in Rustington, to a greenfield site at Roundstone Farm, south of the A259.
The land lies within the strategic gap intended to protect open countryside between Ferring, Angmering and East Preston, which prompted the protest.
Bob Stoyle, of Marshall Clark, project managers of the scheme for Chandlers, said the company understood and respected the views of those concerned about the encroachment into the gap, but was also encouraged by the level of support for the proposals.
The exhibition also showed proposals for the redevelopment of the BMW showroom in Water Lane, including 23 homes, seven of them “affordable”.
After viewing the plans for Roundstone Farm, Ed Miller, secretary of Ferring Conservation Group, said: “It’s even worse than I thought. The development they are proposing is a dense, industrial site on what is now farmland, actually growing cereals at the moment.
“How they think this will be popular in Angmering, East Preston and Ferring and the rest of Arun, I cannot understand.”
Mr Miller said he was “confident” that Arun District Council would refuse Chandlers planning permission, against the background of the new Asda store being built in the strategic gap and another controversial development at Greenyers Field, Ferring.
“After that, it could go to appeal, and we will then have another fight,” he added.
Peter Evans, county councillor for Ferring, Kingston and East Preston, said he fully supported villagers’ concerns about the development at Roundstone Farm.
“Any attempt to build in the strategic gap between Ferring and East Preston is contrary to what everyone in the villages wants,” he added.
The new development, he said, should be built on the site of the dormant “Rustington Motor Park” south of the A259 and west of Mill Road, Rustington, which was previously given planning permission for a number of car showrooms.
However, he was told at the exhibition that the site would be too expensive because of high infrastructure costs.
Mr Stoyle thanked everyone who visited the exhibition. The proposals can be viewed online at www.mychandlers.co.uk