The Planning Process

Planning Applications – who does what?

Ferring Conservation Group spends a lot of time monitoring the applications for new housing, commercial development and large extensions or rebuilding where they impinge unfairly on neighbours, the streetscape or countryside. We often ask our members to submit individual objections but we rarely explain how the system works.  Typically which Councils are involved, or what happens when there is an appeal – it is all rather complicated:

The starting point is the law:

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), planning permission is required for any development of land.  Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) – certain local councils and other bodies – are responsible for examining applications for planning permission and deciding whether to approve or refuse them.

In our case the LPA is Arun District Council. They are required to draw up a Local Plan which must be submitted and endorsed by HM Planning Inspectorate (part of national government). The Local Plan and Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), where there is one, must be consistent with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Applications have to be decided as to whether they are consistent with, or a departure from, the Development Plan, unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise.

The LPAs are obliged to consult the body responsible for Highways (in our case West Sussex County Council) for their view as to the implications of any development that affects traffic, parking or road safety.

If West Sussex County Council considers that the application would have a severe detrimental effect on the local highway network, that is usually the end of the matter and the application is refused (they rarely do this – usually they just give advice on parking and access).

The LPA must enable the Parish Council to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan, as we have in Ferring, but this NDP must be consistent with the Local Plan (as above). Arun District Council is obliged to consult Ferring Parish Council on every planning application in the parish area. Unfortunately not all Councils give full consideration to Parish Council views.

This is very much a top-down planning system not the ‘Localism’ that we were promised a few years ago. The Government sets the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Arun DC has to produce a Local Plan that is consistent with it. Also the Parish Council has to produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) which is consistent with the Local Plan. The system has become even more restrictive in recent years because the Government now sets housing-site delivery requirements for each LPA and a rule that each LPA must have a five-year supply of housing land.

The other way that LPAs are weakened is that when the Council have decided to refuse an application, for good and proper reasons, the developer can appeal to the Secretary of State (HM Planning Inspectorate) against that decision. The Government then appoints a Planning Inspector to decide the appeal – and his/her decision is final – it can only be challenged in the High Court (please note that the appeal system allows only the applicant to appeal, not the objectors!).

Where do local residents come in all this?

Well, we elect the Councillors and the whole country elects the Government. We can send Arun DC our objections against the applications we consider unsuitable then the Council ‘takes them into consideration’. Ferring Conservation Group sends in many objections to the applications we feel are unsuitable – we win some and we lose some. The Council may support local objections and refuse authority to develop but then the applicant can appeal to HM Planning Inspectorate who has the final say.

The Council wins some and loses some!

It is a very unsatisfactory system which fails to take into account local democracy.

Ed Miller


The Vultures are Circling

Much as we expected, the decision on the Chatsmore Farm appeal has encouraged the developers to bring out plans for more, many more, houses on the green fields around Ferring.

Redrow Homes have put in their plans for a 76-house estate at Roundstone Farm, just west of ASDA, another developer has revived their plans for a 167-house estate on Rustington Golf Centre. Rego properties are about to ‘consult us’ on their 120-house estate for Highdown Vineyard. The Landsdowne Nursery’s landowner has told us of his plans for a 120-house estate there. All these applicants will quote the Inspector’s decision on the Chatsmore Farm case and insist that Arun DC has no alternative but to give them planning permission.

We must do all we can to support Arun’s Local Plan, which rules out houses on all these sites. If they refuse the applications each of the applicants are likely to appeal, and as matters stand they could win. If so, it’s goodbye to the Gaps and hello to the Worthing-Littlehampton conurbation.

We can fight back and we will. More demonstrations and more petitions. More letters to the local papers and above all more and more objection letters and emails to Arun DC. All this helps to brace Arun DC against the pressure of Government policy – which is to set Councils impossible housing-site targets and then apply the ’tilted balance’ as they shamelessly call it, setting housing site delivery above all other considerations of environment and infrastructure.

On-line petition:

There will be a number of petitions we can sign. Here is the one against building on green fields anywhere in Sussex. Please find the link to follow and highlight then righthand click ‘Go to link’

This is an all-party movement to resist impossible demands for development. It has been good to see our Member of Parliament, Beccy Cooper, Labour’s leader on Worthing Council, Worthing’s deputy mayor and people from other political groups at our demonstrations. We are all united in this stand against Government policy that favours developers over local democracy and the people they represent.

We managed to get some coverage on BBC TV South Today on Sunday.

Whether Worthing wins its case in the High Court or not, there is still a great deal to fight for. Our Group is working closely with all the other amenity and residents groups, and with various Parish Councils – and Sir Peter Bottomley – to plan and coordinate our response. Please look out for further bulletins.

Ed Miller

Say No! – to the proposed Housing Estate on Highdown Vineyard

Residents may have had a leaflet through their letterbox in the last few days from a public relations company advertising a public consultation on proposals to build a housing estate on Highdown Vineyard, to be held in the Village Hall between 1pm –  7pm on Wednesday 30 March. The developers had pre-application discussions with Arun DC planning officers last year about a 121-house development. After much huffing and puffing, the officers advised that such a proposal would be unlikely to be approved by the Planning Committee.

We do not know yet exactly what is being proposed this time but it will probably be something similar, and the developers would be hoping that even if Arun DC refused the application, their decision will be overturned on appeal – like the Chatsmore Farm decision.

Ferring Conservation Group will do everything in its power to ensure that the developers are told that an application for a housing estate is against Arun’s Local Plan, against the Ferring Neighbourhood Plan and against the opposition of the overwhelming majority of Ferring residents. We must all make our views very clear at this ‘Consultation’ on 30 March – and before that, by e mail to:

Ed Miller

Landsdowne Nurseries Consultation

Landsdowne Nurseries are inviting residents to come and look at the plans for a 72-house estate on their land, any time between 10am and 6pm tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. Please go and make your views clear. If our objections are strong enough the proposal may never get to be a planning application. .There is some parking at Lansdowne Nurseries itself, some in the slip road opposite, and some in ASDA and Wyevale . Please remember that this is a very busy road, and the only safe place to cross it is the pedestrian crossing at he Langbury Lane junction..The problem with traffic is, of course, one of the reasons for objecting to the proposal, along with filling the Gap, loss of green fields and the spoiling of the setting of Highdown – very much the same reasons for Worthing’s refusal of  Persimmon’s estate in the north Goring Gap and Arun’s refusal of the estate at Roundstone Farm and the one at Rustington Golf Centre.We can defeat these  developers, who are constantly picking greenfield sites for development – in defiance of the Local Plan. We have done it before and we can do it again. Please make your voice heard 

Persimmon planning application refused

We’re very pleased that tonight (Weds 10/3) the Worthing Borough Council Planning Committee unanimously refused Persimmon Homes planning application to build 475 houses on the North Goring Gap.

Thank you to those who spoke so well at the meeting, those who worked hard to campaign against it and the many hundreds of people who sent in their individual objections. This is a good day for Ferring, Goring and all of our local area, and shows just how much we value our remaining green spaces.

David Bettiss – Chairman, FCG

Fighting for the Gap

The Goring Gap, north and south, is important to our self-identity as Ferring, still a village –  bounded by this gap, the East Preston-Kingston Gap, the Angmering-Worthing Gap and the sea. It was a great pity that building along Goring Way in the 1950s filled in a section of the Goring Gap and joined us to the streets of Worthing. But what remains is very important:   the Ilex Avenue, the southern gap below it:  picturesque farmland running down to the sea; and the northern gap between Ferring Lane and Goring Street, not quite so attractive but valuable agricultural land always under cultivation, and the Rife running through it, a pleasant open space and ‘green gap’.

We now have to defend this northern gap against a developer – Persimmon Homes Ltd , who have applied to Worthing Borough Council for planning permission for 475 houses and flats. It is an ‘outline’ application so that many of the featured displayed in their application are not commitments but ‘illustrations’.  When Persimmon unveiled their proposals in  October 2020, they received 588 responses and in their application they only referred to one of these as a favourable response..

Nearly 1250 residents have objected – an unprecedented level of hostility to any development in Ferring, Arun or Worthing , We are confident that Worthing Borough Council will refuse this application when it comes to Committee on 10 March.

We believe that:

  • The break in the built-up area between Ferring and Goring helps both areas maintain their individuality
  • The landscape is attractive in its own right and as part of the foreground to Highdown
  • The open space is a ‘green lung’ for Ferring and Goring
  • The loss of prime agricultural land is completely unnecessary
  • The impossible traffic congestion arising in the main road and both roundabouts and back into Ferring would be intolerable
  • This development would add to the strain on other infrastructure: drainage, water supply and sewerage, schools and medical services



Houses in Gardens

We have a long-running campaign against houses being built in residents’ gardens.  Even worse, 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 is 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.

Please join us in objecting to applications like these.