Hundreds of residents have attended a public exhibition held today on plans to build up to 465 homes at Chatsmore Farm, which is part of the Goring Gap.
Landowner Persimmon Homes revealed proposals for the 19 hectare site, which is also known as the northern section of the Goring Gap, at the display in The Richmond Room in Stoke Abbott Road, Worthing.
The developer has said that 30 per cent of the 465 homes would be affordable and that the development would also include a new local centre, car parking for the railway station with space for around 40 cars, ‘extensive areas’ of public open space and a retained wildlife corridor.
The new homes would help address ‘the acute housing shortage in the borough’, according to Persimmon Homes.
But Worthing Borough Council has said that, despite the pressure to build new houses, the emerging Worthing Local Plan proposes to protect the land from development by designating it as a Local Green Gap.
In terms of access to the site, the proposed development would involve access onto the A259 Goring Street.
This could be via a new roundabout, incorporating The Strand and the realignment of the northern end of the section of Goring Street that leads to the station, according to the developer.
The proximity to the station and bus routes would help ‘reduce reliance on the use of the private car’.
However the impact of more cars on the road was one of the main concerns raised by residents who attended the public exhibition.
Eileen and Ray Bourne, who live in Ferring Lane, described the proposals as ‘ludicrous’ and said: “Trying to get onto the A259 on a normal day is horrendous.
“It’s a really chockablock area and this would just finish it completely.”
They also highlighted the pressure the scheme would put on schools and GP surgeries.
Jan and Ron Tutheridge, who live in South Ferring, agreed that the roads ‘could not cope as it is’.
Mrs Tutheridge also said the development would ‘ruin the views’, adding: “You can stand on the beach and see the Downs, which you won’t be able to do if there’s houses there.”
She said the fields were nice to walk around and provided ‘a divider’ between the villages.
Jackie Briers, who lives in Ferring, was also ‘unhappy’ about the impact on the landscape.
She said: “I moved from London and I thought this county was absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen the slow decline in it over 15 years.”
She feared other parts of the Goring Gap would be ‘the next target’.
“Part of living in Worthing is the feeling of wellbeing and natural beauty. Here is another little chunk that is being chipped away at,” she said.
Lorraine Morgan, who lives in Worthing, said we were ‘destroying our own environment’.
She said the push to ‘build, build, build’ was not helping people who were on a low income and said developers were ‘out of touch of reality’.
Councillor Colin Oliver-Redgate, who represents Ferring ward on Arun District Council, feared the proposal would ‘set a precedent for the Goring Gap’,
He said: “It’s typical over-development, squeezing as many houses in as small a space as possible. Once the land is gone it’s gone forever.”
He added that traffic coming out of the estate would produce ‘havoc and gridlock’ and said there must be other sites that could be developed without causing ‘so much animosity’.
Sir Peter Bottomley, the MP for Worthing West, has signalled his opposition to the plans and called for the ‘opportunist proposal’ to be withdrawn.
He declared that he owned some Persimmon shares and said he would put forward his opposition to the proposals as a shareholder as well as an MP.
In an email to constituents, he wrote: “Persimmon have sprung this as a surprise. They should have notified me as member of parliament for Goring-by-Sea and for Ferring, the wards most affected.
“This proposal is against the express views of Worthing Borough Council.
“It is opposed to by residents in Arun District Council who live in Ferring.
“The natural gap between Goring and Ferring should be preserved. This opportunist proposal should be withdrawn by Persimmon.
“I declare that I own some Persimmon shares so as a shareholder I can put forward the opposition in addition to my role as the Member of Parliament.
“I doubt they would propose to develop Hyde Park. Why they are proposing to change the nature of a valued area close to the South Downs National Park?
“When Worthing Hospital was under threat, we created an All-Party Parliamentary Group to protect our local interest. I will propose doing the same again.”
Persimmon Homes has been approached for a comment.
For anyone unable to attend the public exhibition, which is open until 7.30pm, all the information about the proposed development can be viewed at www.chatsmorefarm.co.uk
To have your say on the proposals, email firstname.lastname@example.org