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New business units set for green light in Worthing's first ever virtual planning meeting

Released: Tuesday, 21 April 2020

A virtual planning meeting open to the public is set to make a decision on plans to create 22 new light industrial units in east Worthing.

With the COVID-19 restrictions banning public gatherings, Adur & Worthing Councils has had to get creative in how it makes decisions on major planning applications in an open and transparent way.

Thanks to video conferencing, the Worthing Borough Council planning committee this week (Wednesday 22nd April 2020) will meet virtually via video conferencing software. It will then be live streamed on YouTube allowing members of the public and press to see and hear proceedings live.

Among the applications to be discussed and voted on is a plan to create 22 new light industrial units on the former EDF car park in Southdownview Road, Worthing. If approved, it will see five new buildings created on the one hectare site along with 97 car parking spaces.

A proposal to demolish the rundown Wheatsheaf pub in Richmond Road and replace it with seven flats will also be on the agenda.

James Appleton, the Councils' Head of Planning, said:

“Planning committee meetings are an essential part of our work as it allows the larger and more controversial applications for new developments to be discussed and voted on by elected councillors in an open and transparent way.”

“Even in lockdown we are still receiving a significant number of planning applications for schemes across Adur and Worthing. It is imperative that we continue to give responses to these in a timely manner as it means those who do receive permission can be in a position to start work straight away once restrictions are lifted.”

Video conferencing meetings for council business have been made possible by changes brought in by the Coronavirus Act 2020. This relaxed a former restriction which meant councillors had to be in the same room when meeting and voting on decisions.

Adur and Worthing are among the first in the UK to hold a video conference style meeting, which allows the general public to tune in live to see and hear decisions being made. There will also be the opportunity for public speaking with registered speakers able to join the meeting to either support or object to development proposals.

Paul Brewer, the Councils' Director for Digital & Resources, said:

“Open public meetings are a crucial part of local democracy which is why we have worked so hard to create as simple and transparent a way as possible to hold essential town hall meetings.”

“We will continue to monitor and review how we do this to make improvements while assessing if it can be rolled out for further Councils meetings. We will also be sharing our experience with other councils so they can roll out similar schemes in their local areas.”

The agenda for the meeting and the YouTube link where you can watch and listen to the meeting are available on our committee meetings website.

(PR20-036)

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