It is one year since Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced plans to open its first Sussex store, with Lancing’s New Monks Farm the location.
The following 12 months have been packed with debate, with residents across Sussex weighing in to the discussion – but are we any nearer to discovering whether the plans will become a reality?
Rumours had been circling of IKEA’s interest in the county months leading up to the major announcement on January 26.
News of plans for New Monks Farm, part of the green gap between Lancing and Shoreham and located directly west of Shoreham Airport, were unveiled by Brighton and Hove Albion executive director Martin Perry.
How did IKEA begin? Click here to see how the firm has grown into a global brand.
The club, whose Lancing training ground lies south of New Monks Farm, had purchased the land and IKEA was a key part of a development bid, also featuring 600 homes.
But while the overwhelming majority of readers across Sussex voting in our poll dreamt of flatpack furniture, meatballs and bumper packs of tealight candles, locals had concerns.
Close proximity to the A27, flooding and the impact of such a major project on the village were atop the list of concerns.
Leading the charge was East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton, who said he had ‘grave reservations’ about a retailer the size of IKEA.
The MP hosted a packed public meeting in September, while the plans attracted attention of his parliamentary colleagues.
Tory Grant Shapps wrote in objection in his role as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation. Mr Shapps worried the development would threaten the future of the airport.
The site’s future has proved a political hot potato and it was no surprise to see candidates in the district council by-election for Mash Barn ward referencing it as voters went to the polls in October.
Lee Cowen took the ward from absent incumbents UKIP with opposition to the proposals atop his manifesto.
The by-election looked set to become a referendum on New Monks Farm – but Labour’s main rival, Tory Jack Howard, also opposed the development.
The developer pledged to submit a planning application in February but in reality this would not arrive on Adur District Council’s desk until June.
To date, the plans have attracted 1,069 objections compared to 50 supporters, while petitions for and against were launched in August.
More than six months later, a decision date is yet to be fixed.
The complex application was last week resubmitted, with changes including reducing the height of the IKEA building, widening drainage ditches and creating a cycle path and pedestrian walkway along the River Adur.
Experts still have questions about the plans, with West Sussex County Council’s highways department requesting more information before it could support approval.
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