East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton has written an impassioned letter appealing for councillors to reject plans for Sussex’s first IKEA store and 600 new homes.
Mr Loughton has sent the letter to Adur District Council planning committee members ahead of a key meeting next week.
On Wednesday, councillors will consider the plans for New Monks Farm, off the A27 at Lancing.
Council officers have already published their report, which recommends the plans be approved.
In the 2,000-word letter to the councillors, Mr Loughton says: “You do not need me to tell you how significant a development this is. It has given rise to more correspondence from my constituents than any other planning application.
“I have held a number of public meetings and last year held an extensive survey which resulted in more than 800 local people expressing their concerns.”
In his letter, Mr Loughton echoes residents’ concerns over flooding and whether the A27 could cope with the increase in traffic.
He says: “The intention is to open IKEA within about 18 months, several years before any upgrade work to the A27 is likely to have been started and that work has currently not been agreed or designed and its effectiveness, there-fore, completely unknown.
One of the MP’s biggest issues is the proposed IKEA superstore. He says while it has been claimed that IKEA will add greatly to the local economy and other businesses in the village would benefit, ‘it is difficult to see how the reverse will not be the case’.
Mr Loughton adds: “I do not believe that other alternatives to IKEA could not be fund to occupy that space which would not involve so many customer journeys by car.”
He says that based on expected demand for the planned industrial development at adjacent Shoreham Airport, land at New Monks Farm could instead be home to a new high-tech business park – which would mean staff journeys to and from the area, but not ‘millions’ of journeys made by customers, meaning less pressure on the A27.
He says: “If IKEA were to be removed from the scheme in favour of smaller growth businesses that involved hundreds of employee journeys rather than millions of customer journeys, I believe the whole proposal would be much more acceptable to the local population.”
The letter goes on: “This is a case of absolutely ‘putting the cart before the horse.’ On many levels it is very hard to see how the inclusion of an IKEA in particular can bring any sustainable benefits to the local community and will make the area less attractive for people to live, work and invest. If the developers were to drop this particular aspect of the proposal I believe there are grounds for a more feasible and sustainable development and as such would recommend the committee to reject the proposals in their current form.”