Protecting our Gaps                                                                                                  Ferring Conservation Group has been fighting, since its earliest days, to  to protect the Goring Gap, Then we had the Ferring-East Preston Gap, and  now we have the Angmering-Worthing Gap (which includes Ferring north of Littlehampton Road). Fortunately, the top slopes of Highdown are owned by the National Trust and the fields on the other side of it are safe within the South downs National Park. but the land south of Highdown and the whole of other two gaps are under constant attack by developers.

Worthing Borough Council refused Persimmon’s application for 475 houses at Chatsmore Farm in the north Goring Gap. Persimmon appealed and to everyone’s surprise and shock the Inspector upheld their appeal, Worthing BC have asked the High Court to quash that decision and the case will be heard on 20 and 21 July. Now an estate agent is advertising two acres of land on Marine Drive, in the south Goring Gap, as ‘suitable for a range of uses subject to planning consent’ at a price of £200.000 .

Worthing Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan, now in its final stages, is very firm on the protection of both northern and southern gaps. It designates them as ‘Countryside’ ‘as well as ‘Green gaps between Settlements’ to preserve this open farmland and maintain the distinct identity of Ferring and Goring. But a small part of the northern gap and about half of the southern gap are in Ferring and now we are looking for a similar firm commitment in the revised version of the Arun’s Local Plan, now in preparation.

We know that a recent Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment noted that it would be possible to build 52 houses on the Ferring section of the northern gap. We need Arun to say very clearly that this is not going to happen. We are more confident about Ferring’s section of the  southern gap – south of the Ilex Avenue and right down to the beach, This area has now been designated as a Local Wildlife Site, equivalent to the old SNCI.  This gives it added protect against development.

In the East Preston Gap, we have already lost many acres –  the vast development at ASDA and the houses at ‘Greenside’ and Glenbarrie Way.  Now we have the threat of a 76-house estate on the fields on the other side of ASDA, Arun refused the application but an appeal is now in progress.  We have also seen proposals (not yet a planning application) for 54 houses on a field off Kingston Lane.

In the Angmering Gap we have seen proposals for large housing estates at Highdown Vineyard and Lansdowne Nurseries (not yet planning applications) and the constant intensification of commercial/industrial uses up Hangleton Lane and McIntyre’s Lane (one of these – for a boatyard, martial arts gym and a huge container storage – refused by Arun, now at appeal),

And that ‘s not all. We have the 191-house estate on the Rustington Golf Centre. Again refused by Arun and we are waiting for the outcome of an appeal. We have objected to all these developments and we have built an alliance with conservation, amenity and residents’ groups all along the coast, from Rustington to Worthing, so that any application, appeal or proposal for building in our Gaps and other green spaces wherever it is, will be opposed by all the Groups. We have called this the Protect our Gaps alliance , or ProGaps.

Houses in Gardens                                                                                                      We have a long-running campaign against houses being built in residents’ gardens.  They threaten to destroy the open character of Ferring, they reduce wildlife habitat and natural drainage, and add to the number of cars in the village when congestion and parking problems have already reached record levels. ‘Backland’ development is even worse because the long narrow  driveways create additional road safety hazards – for pedestrians and other vehicles.

Our objections, and those of our Parish Council, do frequently persuade Arun DC to refuse such planning applications. Unfortunately the Planning Inspectors often uphold appeals against the Council’s refusal. The most recent case was that of ‘Elm Lodge’ on the corner of Tamarisk Way and Sea Lane, an application  twice refused by Arun DC, once dismissed on appeal but finally allowed at the end of June. Since then a resident of Greenways Crescent applied to build a house in his front garden. We objected, as did the Parish Council and many of the neighbours and Arun refused it, As yet, there has been no appeal.

Please join us in objecting to applications like these.