IKEA developers propose flooding solution

An artist's impression of the New Monks Farm development with IKEA
An artist's impression of the New Monks Farm development with IKEA

Developers have sought to reassure residents that effective measures will be put into place to control flooding at New Monks Farm.

At a planning inquiry yesterday, New Monks Farm Development Ltd, a subsidiary of Brighton & Hove Albion football club, said it would set up a company with Shoreham Airport to maintain the site’s water courses and run the pumping station it plans to build.

We want to make sure that any solution that is put forward in terms of flood risk is going to work to protect the whole of that area

Martin Perry

They will also collaborate in transforming the A27 to gain better access to the airport and to access the new proposed IKEA development.

The overwhelming majority of residents supported the proposed IKEA, according to a Herald poll, some expressed their concerns about building the store as well as a school and 600 homes on New Monks Farm, a known floodplain.

But speaking at the planning inquiry, Martin Perry from the football club said its nearby training facility proved its commitment to flood control.

“We have invested £30million in that facility. We want to make sure that any solution that is put forward in terms of flood risk is going to work to protect the whole of that area because we own the freehold of that ground. We are there for the long-term.”

The aim of the planning inquiry, led by a Government inspector, is to ensure the soundness of Adur District Council’s Local Plan. The local plan is a legal document which sets out how it would like land to be used and determining what will be built where. Click here for a full guide.

If approved by the inspector, it would give the green light for building on New Monks Farm.

The inspector also heard from Bill Freeman, chairman of Adur Floodwatch. He said Adur had to spend money on flood maintenance – not leave it up to the football club as part of its £150million development, which would include 600-much needed houses to meet the council’s housing target.

He believed that ‘political expedience to build houses has overtaken the duty of care to the community’, and that drainage could be the ‘Achille’s Heel’ to getting the IKEA development approved – so the council has ‘left it to the developer to come up with answers’.

Mr Freeman’s comments follow a memorandum of understanding about the flooding issue which was published on Wednesday night.

Signed by Adur District Council, the Environment Agency, and West Sussex County Council, the local authority for flooding, it said that Adur’s testing of flood risks was adequate and that all land earmarked for development in flood risk areas – including New Monks Farm – was justified.

Another topic which dominated the planning inquiry on Thursday morning was the boundary of the New Monks Farm site. Adur District Council’s head of planning James Appleton argued that the boundary needed to be flexible to encourage developers – but planning inspector David Hogger had his concerns.

He said: “I am concerned there are no fixed boundaries. I am not sure I have ever examined a plan that has not had a firm boundary.”

Mr Hogger also heard from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, who wanted to ensure that a proposed country park on New Monks Farm which would preserve the ‘green gap’ between Lancing and Shoreham was sufficiently big.

Conservation officer Laura Brook asked for the wording of the part of the plan regarding the country park’s size to be changed from ‘approximately 28 hectares’ to ‘at least 28 hectares’.

Speaking after the meeting, she explained that this would prevent developers from interpreting ‘approximately’ to reduce its size.

“It is incredibly important to us; these are potentially small words that we hope will have significance within the allocation.”

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