A controversial scheme to build 520 homes in West Sompting is not ‘a done deal’ but development on the land is inevitable, residents were told at a meeting on Thursday.
However Tim Loughton MP, who chaired the public meeting at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, told residents there was ‘scope to influence that development’.
He said he did not know when developers Persimmon Homes and the Sompting Estate would submit a planning application, but said it was ‘essential’ that residents write letters with their views when they did.
Councillor Brian Boggis, executive member for regeneration at Adur District Council, agreed that it ‘really does make a difference’ when residents shared their ideas.
“There is going to be development there. We can’t get away from that,” he said. “What we have got to do is make sure we get the very best for the local community in Sompting.”
James Appleton, head of planning, explained that the land at West Sompting was a ‘key site’ allocated in the Adur Local Plan.
“If we don’t bring forward development, it is likely other sites will come forward that are not in the plan,” he said. Development at the site could be refused by councillors, he said, but ‘not on a point of principle, more on a question of detail’.
But many residents who spoke at the meeting said developing the greenfield site would be ‘horrendous’, with traffic a ‘key concern’.
Councillor George Barton said the proposal would result in a ‘massive increase’ in pollution and vehicles on the roads, as well as create two new rat runs in White Styles Road and Sylvan Road.
After the meeting, a spokesman for the Sompting Estate told the Herald: “Sompting Estate has been listening to people’s views since this development was first suggested in the Local Plan process.
“We were also at the public consultation meeting that was organised by Persimmon last year, and have received feedback from the community on the emerging proposals for the site.
“The received responses are now being carefully reviewed, and taken in to account where appropriate, as part of the ongoing progress of the development proposals.
“We’ve heard what was said at the MP’s meeting. Some people think we are right to support the Local Plan’s aim of meeting housing need here; others disagree.
“Everyone wishes more could have been done sooner to improve local traffic management.
“We have been part of the local A27 Working Group all along and we are supporting better local infrastructure for non-car travel including foot/cycle paths linked to new development.
“Another key objective of the proposed development is to increase biodiversity.
“We have a vision to enhance the wildlife habitat value in Sompting around and south of the development areas.
“The gardens of the new homes will provide habitats and food for wildlife and we have employed ecologists to advise on the future management of the land.
“Our community farm proposal, to be delivered by Sustainable Sussex, will also help new residents integrate with the existing community through nature.
“We are also keen for ideas on what residents would like to see on the land to the south of the new homes.
“If anyone has ideas about the land we want to improve for nature, or would like to become involved in community environmental projects, we would love to hear from them.
“Our contact details are available at the www.landatwestsompting.co.uk website.”
A planning application will be submitted to Adur District Council ‘later in the year’, the spokesman added.