New Monks Farm development proposals
Many constituents will be aware that Brighton and Hove Football Club have bought the land known as New Monks Farm between the Airport and the eastern edge of Lancing adjacent to their new training academy. They have now published draft proposals for a major development there which will include 600 houses, a new school, a ‘community hub’ and country park, retail space now earmarked for IKEA and junction changes to the A27 to include a roundabout with traffic lights in the vicinity of the old Sussex Pad.
The developers are in the process of holding public exhibitions and there will of course be extensive consultation as part of the planning application process which is likely to be considered by Adur’s Planning Committee in the summer with a view to starting work before the end of 2017 if permission is granted. You can see their plans here together with a questionnaire designed by the developers which I have to say is certainly very ‘skewed.’
When the Adur Local Plan was initially being designed I held a series of public meetings and encouraged constituents to feed through their views to the Council. As a result of this long drawn out process initial plans to include land around the West Beach estate and the Saltings roundabout have been dropped as not being suitable for development which is welcome. However the major plots of open land at New Monks Farm and west of Sompting remain in the plan as identified for potential development.
This will have major implications for residents not just in Lancing and Sompting but for the many others using the A27 which will inevitably bear the brunt of the greatly increased traffic on top of what it already has to cope with. It should be noted that these plans come before any solutions for upgrading the A27 have even been published and will start well before any A27 work is likely to commence from 2020 onwards. A new roundabout with lights is planned to provide the only entrance into the whole New Monks Farm development and an IKEA will obviously attract thousands of cars in from a very substantial catchment area given their next nearest stores are in Southampton and Croydon. Given the negative experience of the traffic lights at Grove Lodge and the near unanimous calls to scrap them I am greatly concerned that developers potentially wat to revisit that mistake in Lancing.
I have made clear all along that any development at New Monks Farm in particular needs to pass three main tests before it can be realistically considered:
- Does it address the existing flooding problem caused by water run-off from the Downs and which regularly causes flooding to homes, roads and gardens around Lancing Manor and where the problem is the lack of slope from there to the sluice gates outlet by the Dogs Trist headquarters at the Norfolk Bridge. There is also the considerable pressure already placed on a creaking sewerage system in Lancing
- How will further congestion on the A27 be dealt with? Building a roundabout does not mean any less traffic and could simply mean the back-ups from the Lancing Manor roundabout extend eve further.
- What is in it for local people? Whilst we know we need more homes and school places and it is likely that a new GP surgery would be included in the ‘community hub’ does this represent an ‘over-development’ which would seriously impact on the quality of life for those people already living in the area.
These are all important questions. I am pleased that the developers have heeded my earlier warnings that the only way to deal with the flooding issue is to install a comprehensive pumping solution and they will now need to prove that what is proposed will work to alleviate the existing problem which will only be exacerbated by tarmacking over porous open fields. And whilst I agree that some level of development is certainly possible and will ‘tidy up’ this area 600 houses is an awful lot. I have grave reservations about a retailer the size of IKEA however. Whilst undoubtedly several hundred low skilled jobs will be created, unemployment in Adur is below 1.4% and so workers will need to be brought in from outside the area again adding to traffic.
The fact that the project is owned by Brighton & Hove Albion who will continue to manage the estate given their very substantial interesting through their investment in the training ground, is welcome. However it is the impact on my existing constituents that I am most concerned about and the very substantial impact t will have on the A27 in particular.
I will therefore be scrutinising the plans carefully and have already attended the exhibitions and will play my part in the consultations to make sure that residents have every opportunity to ask questions, have their say and influence the outcome. Ultimately however it will be up to Adur Council to decide on the plans subject to planning law and the potential to be overruled on appeal, and so it is important to lobby your councillors accordingly.