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Worthing's planners stand firm on protecting industrial workspace

Released: Friday, 28 April 2017

Worthing planners have renewed on a pledge to strike a balance between places to work and live to help the town's future growth.

It comes as a blueprint to build nine affordable homes on a site in the east of the town has been rejected by the Council's Planning Committee.

Applicants MTM Land and Worthing Homes submitted proposals to create a cul-de-sac of properties on the former O'Briens of Worthing removal company warehouse off Ham Road.

But, concerned that the only access to the plot was through a commercial yard used by cars and delivery vehicles, Worthing Borough Council planning members rejected the proposal by a vote of five to one.

Councillors also referenced local planning policies which state that existing industrial sites need to be protected as places of work, rather than being turned into residential developments, to ensure a healthy balance of land uses for future generations.

Speaking after the decision, Councillor Kevin Jenkins, the chairman of Worthing Borough Council's planning committee, said:

“As councillors we recognise that the need for housing in Worthing is significant and is unlikely to ever be met in full. But we also have a duty to balance those demands against what is being offered.”

“This is a commercial site land locked within a retail and commercial location. There are many organisations in our town who are looking for somewhere to establish a base.”

“Little or no compelling evidence was provided why this employment site and job opportunities should be lost or not converted to other uses by community or sports groups.”

The council's commitment to affordable homes has been underlined with the agreed lending of £10 million to Worthing Homes to build new properties across the borough.

But Planning Committee members are aware that Worthing, like many areas in the southeast, has a shortage of industrial space as land generally is at a premium.

This means many local businesses struggle to find suitable space to expand or relocate and enquiries from businesses outside the town can rarely be met.

The Local Plan which was agreed by councillors in 2011 to guide development in the Borough for the next 15 years, pledged to balance the needs of building more homes with protecting places for people to work and green spaces for recreation.

Cllr Jenkins said:

“We have to remember that whatever we build now will be there for the next 100 years plus. We have to ensure that we do not simply accept a lower standard to meet a demand.”

“These messages were already relayed to Worthing Homes and the developer in the pre-application stage by the planning officers.”

“I hope that they will now go away and give this greater consideration and if appropriate bring back a revised scheme that is acceptable and meets council policy.”

(PR17-045)

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