Ferring is framed by its open spaces – the sea, the Goring Gap, the Kingston/East Preston Gap and the area north of Littlehampton Road. But none of them can be taken for granted. They are all vulnerable in one way or another.
We still have the beach, and Patterson’s Walk but our view of the sea has been marred by the crowds of wind turbines much intrusive than some of us expected. We have to balance against this the value of the carbon-free electricity that will be generated over its lifetime but many of us feel that we have lost something – the clean sweep of the horizon we once had now looks more like an industrial zone. The turbines are not directly off-shore from Ferring but they certainly dominate the view from the Goring Gap
That Gap, south of the Ilex avenue, and between the railway and Littlehampton Road, is always under threat of development – simply because it is all owned by developers. Arun District Council’s Local Plan, currently being scrutinised by the Government’s Planning Inspector, excludes development on both its half of the southern gap and its much smaller share of the northern gap. The preservation of the Gap was not challenged during the ‘Examination in Public’ in September.
Worthing Borough Council is some months behind Arun in formulating its own new Local Plan: we trust that it will stick to the view in their last public consultation document ‘Your Town – your Future’ that this land should not be built on. However, we know that last year Persimmon Homes Ltd were proposing a scheme for 475 houses in the northern gap – on the land between the railway and the stream, between Ferring and Goring, with access from Goring Street. The estate would be entirely within the Worthing boundary but would have an enormous impact on Ferring – and if and when they submit it to Worthing BC, Ferring Conservation Group will fight it all the way.
The Kingston/East Preston Gap has been significantly eroded in the last five years. We have lost the area west of Langbury Lane to ASDA and the housing estates at Greenyer’s Field and Jenkins’ Yard. We fought hard to keep the BMW dealers and workshops out of Roundstone Farm (they settled for the land east of Mill Road, Angmering) and the rest of the gap is protected in Arun’s new Local Plan – but this again, is subject to the Planning Inspector’s approval.
That plan includes a new Angmering – Worthing Gap, designating the land between Littlehampton Road and Highdown, and the Angmering By Pass and the Worthing boundary as a new ‘Gap Between Settlements’. Highdown itself and the farmland beyond it is, of course, within the South Downs National Park and very well protected from development but the area below Highdown has suffered a great deal from unsuitable development (just look up Hangleton Lane and the bridleway on Ferring’s eastern border, where one business gives its address as ‘Highdown Industrial Park’). The Inspector has pointed out that the Gap has been compromised by development in and around Hangleton and has asked Arun DC for more evidence in favour of a Gap here.
One reason why this area north of Littlehampton Road has been allowed to lose much of its rural character is that there are very few residents there, and even fewer Conservation Group members. Business is carried out behind high fences and hedges and it is not easy to see what is going on. But there should be no excuse now that the Local and Neighbourhood Plans have laid down clear policies for it. Every planning application, change of use application, and every breach of planning controls must be scrutinised critically by Arun DC, and our own Parish Council (as it certainly will by the Conservation Group committee) to prevent the degradation of what is still, just about, a semi-rural area and the immediate foreground of Highdown Hill and the National Park. We need more members , more eyes and ears to help us do this, and your support when we make our objections. Please help us to defend this new Gap.
We must also defend our Green Spaces within the Built-Up Area. The recreation grounds at Glebelands, the Village Green and Little Twitten are safe from development, belonging as they do to Arun District Council. Our own short stretches of the Ilex Avenue and the Greensward above the beach are also safe- they belong to Worthing Borough Council. We trust that the green spaces of Little Paddocks and The Poplars will also forever remain so. What is at risk is the green space around our houses – our gardens and our verges trees. More and more garden space is being lost every year, thanks to overdevelopment, large extensions and concrete driveways. Our trees are at risk too – not enough of them have Tree Protection Orders on them and too many are felled by chain-saw gangs clearing space for more development. We want all our members to be vigilant and help us defend this green village against more and more bricks and concrete.
The Conservation Group sends regular e mails to its members telling them about planning applications we think are detrimental to Ferring and its immediate neighbourhood. If you are already a member but have not been receiving these e mails please let Ed Miller know. If you are not yet a member please join us (subscription £1 a year) using the details on our ‘Contact’ page. E mails are individually addressed so that your e mail address is not shown to other recipients.