Ferring is framed by its open spaces – the sea; the Goring Gap; the Kingston/East Preston Gap; and the Angmering-Worthing Gap, north of Littlehampton Road, which continues into the South Downs National Park. The Gaps are underwritten by Arun’s Local Plan and by Worthing’s planning policies but none of these open spaces 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 a little like an industrial zone. The turbines are not directly off-shore from Ferring but they certainly dominate the view from the beach at 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 excludes development in principle on both its half of the southern gap and its much smaller share of the northern gap. We maintain that this applies to all development, not just to housing.
Worthing Borough Council’s Local Plan, approved by the Planning Inspectorate, and adopted by the Council, designates the Worthing portion of the Gap, north of the railway and south of the Ilex Avenue, a ‘Green Gap between Settlements’, land that should not be built on. Persimmon Homes Ltd have been arguing for years that they should be allowed to build houses on it. Their application for 475 houses in the northern gap – on the land between the railway and the stream, between Ferring and Goring, was refused on 10 March; they appealed and appeared to have won their case but the Inspector’s decision was quashed by the High Court. Now they have applied to the Court of Appeal but it seems most unlikely that the decision will be reversed.
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 other fields to 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) but a 74-house estate is now being built there (after Arun’s refusal was overturned on appeal. Now there is an application to build another housing estate on Grafe 1 agricultural land south of the railway. Ferring Conservation Group, in combination with the other groups in the Protect our Gaps Alliance and the Parish councils will oppose this application (A/56/22) as strongly as possible. We will continue to oppose any development, in any part of that Gap.
We now have an Angmering – Worthing Gap, comprising the land between Littlehampton Road and Highdown, and the Angmering By-Pass and the Worthing boundary, . 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’). It is now also threatened with another housing estate in place of Lansdowne Nursery and proposals for a similar estate at Highdown Vineyard
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 our members’ support when we make our objections. Arun DC’s Development Control Committee gave planning permission for a new office building off Hangleton Lane, and for the demolition of a perfectly good bungalow at the south end of the lane for a a big expansion of the Yeomans car showroom site. But all is not lost. There is a constant stream of applications to develop this area for residential, commercial and industrial uses and they can all be defeated by strong pressure from our members and other Ferring residents. 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 are owned by Worthing Borough Council. We trust that the privately-owned open spaces of Little Paddocks and The Poplars will also forever remain green. What is more at risk is the green space around our houses – our gardens and our verges. More and more garden space is being lost every year, thanks to overdevelopment, building houses in the back garden, 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.