Future of major green space set to be secured by Adur Council

A major green space previously put forward for development is set to be preserved and enhanced for generations to come thanks to Adur District Council.

For centuries, the 70 hectare site at New Salts Farm has been used for agriculture, acting as a natural barrier between the urban settlements of Lancing and Shoreham.

But recently the owner Hyde New Homes explored the viability of creating more than 450 properties on the land to the north of the A259.

Recognising the importance New Salts Farm plays in the look, feel and wider biodiversity of the area, the Council is now set to make the rare move of stepping in to purchase the site - with a commitment to preserve and enhance the land as a haven for natural habitat.

Funding for the acquisition will come from the sale of the former Adur Civic Centre, where Hyde is working with the local authority to bring forward designs for 173 new homes and 1,000 sqm of office space.

Cllr Neil Parkin, Leader of Adur District Council, said: “New Salts Farm plays an integral role in the look and feel of our whole district, acting as a vital green corridor between our vibrant coastline and the surrounding South Downs.

“That’s why I’m delighted we have been able to be innovative, creative and proactive in exploring ways to protect and enhance this land for generations to come.

“If agreement is reached on purchasing the site, our ambition is to work with the local community to rewild the area. This will support our very ambitious sustainability agenda and go some way to helping us achieve our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

A report on purchasing New Salts Farm is to be presented to executive councillors at a virtual meeting of the Joint Strategic Committee next week (Tuesday September 8, 2020),

The document outlines how Hyde looked to get the land allocated for development in 2016. However this was contested by the Council due to flooding concerns and a desire to maintain the green gap.

To prevent this from happening again, councillors are set to approve the purchase of the land at a meeting next week and seek to allocate the land as a dedicated nature reserve within the Adur Local Plan.

The next stage will be for the Council to investigate how to best utilise the land for the wider benefit of residents and nature. This could include some of it being set aside for capturing solar energy.

Cllr Parkin added: “We all know that there is a high demand for housing in the area. While we are determined to support the creation of as much-needed high-quality accommodation for our residents, this should not come at a complete cost to the natural environment.”

Tim Loughton MP said: "This is  a really smart move by Adur Council and a very exciting opportunity for the people of Adur. At a time when local people have quite rightly been concerned about the level of new development that has been taking place around Shoreham Harbour especially under the huge pressure to provide more housing, this is  a welcome reprieve for our diminishing green spaces. It was right that this area of former farmland was specifically removed from the Adur Local Plan and given protection from developers. Hyde Housing were always on a hiding to nothing in trying to develop it, as I pointed out, and I am pleased that they have now acknowledged that this area will remain protected and allowed Adur to look at alternative uses for the benefit of the community. We need to enhance our natural ‘green lungs’ and if this can be combined with opportunities for people to exercise and get out more then there will be a real double whammy for local residents and the environment. Well done Adur Council."

The proposed acquisition of New Salts Farm forms part of “And Then…”, the Councils short, sharp programme of interventions and assistance to help the communities of Adur and Worthing bounce back from the impact of lockdown.

It also supports the ambitions laid out in Platforms for our Places: Going Further, which sets out the Councils’ plans over the next three years to help residents and businesses to thrive through support and action in five key areas, or platforms.