A decision on major plans for an IKEA and 600 homes in Lancing was deferred last night at a fiery meeting attended by hundreds of residents.
Members of the public packed the sports hall at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, in Upper Boundstone Lane, as Adur District Council’s planning committee considered the scheme for New Monks Farm.
After nearly 18 months of debate, it was hoped a final decision on the plans – put forward by a subsidiary of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club – would be made at the meeting.
But councillors instead called for further negotiations to mitigate the environmental impact of the Swedish furniture giant’s proposed store.
The meeting kicked off with a summary of the development by planning officer James Appleton, which also included a country park, relocation of the Withy Patch gypsey and travellers site and a pumping station.
The development would be served by a new A27 roundabout, resulting in the removal of the Sussex Pad crossing.
Amid cheers and jeers from the gallery, speakers from both sides of the fence then aired their views.
Speaking in objection, Gerry Thompson from the Shoreham Society reiterated concerns about traffic congestion.
“The extra traffic on a road already backed up or gridlocked every afternoon is a big worry,” he said.
“Measures that could truly mitigate this scale of problem simply do not exist. We believe it should not be considered until A27 road improvements are in place.”
Lancing parish councillor Gina Scotting objected to what she described as the ‘eviction’ of the Withy Patch travellers and said councillors had a duty of care to constituents.
She said: “Do you want to be proud knowing you protected the residents who voted for you or do you want to bring a death knell for the Lancing community?”
Concerns were also raised by Lancing College over the lack of a 4th arm on the proposed new roundabout, with the loss of the Sussex Pad crossing eliminating the option for Coombes Road traffic to turn right onto the A27.
Several councillors queried whether the developer could be compelled to provide this as part of the scheme but were advised this was not possible. It could be added at a later date.
In support, councillor Brian Boggis said the application would bring a boost to local businesses through increased footfall, making it a ‘better place to live, work and shop’, and said it was vital to meeting the proposed housing targets in the Adur Local Plan.
Resident Colin Hannan said: “These are 600 badly needed houses for 600 fortunate kids, who can grow up to make a contribution. This is something which will be the bedrock of our children’s future.”
Fears around the proposal were addressed by Martin Perry, executive director of Brighton and Hove Albion and director of New Monks Farm Development Limited.
He said Albion was committed to the project and reminded members that Highways England and West Sussex County Council had no objections to the traffic issues.
As councillors began discussions, debate focused on the location of a proposed new primary school, with two hectares of land set aside between the A27 and IKEA.
Councillor George Barton said the school was in ‘the worst possible position’ and questioned the air quality.
Mr Appleton said the location was vital for access and proximity to a bus route.
Councillor Les Alden proposed to reject the scheme on grounds of financial viability, traffic congestion and IKEA’s limited ‘concern for the local people’.
The motion was supported by Labour’s David Balfe but rejected by the rest of the committee. Mr Appleton argued these were not valid grounds for rejection as key consultees such as Highways England had already agreed to proposed traffic mitigation measures.
Councillor Stephen Chipp proposed deferring the decision until IKEA went further with ‘mitigation in the historic and scenic location’ and said ‘IKEA does not protect or enhance the environment’. He also hoped for an agreement over providing the roundabout’s fourth arm – but recognised this was not required by the statutory consultees.
Councillors voted five to three in favour of the deferral. The committee will reconvene on a currently undecided date.
More on the IKEA development: