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Protecting Goring Gap

Defending Chatsmore Farm and Goring Gap from unwanted and destructive development

 

01 August 2022

Result of High Court Appeal

I have received news from Ed Millar and the Ferring Conservation Group that Judge has quashed the Appeal Inspector's decision regarding Chatsmore Farm. 

 

This is a massive victory for our local councils and for our communities.

 

Many people have fought the good fight, I am glad to have supported them and to have worked with them.

 

It was wrong that the Appeal Inspectorate overruled the elected council and the initial inspectorate’s justified refusal to build over 400 homes in the Goring Gap. Their decision was perverse. It wrecked the planning system as we know it and eroded the authority of our elected local council.

 

Ministers should now intervene and give their own inspectors clear instructions and guidance to preserve the identity of local villages and towns, not to concrete every field, vineyard, market garden or recreation space. 

The decision is shown in full below:

https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2022/2044.html&query=(worthing)

06 July 2022

Question to the Prime Minister

Today, during PMQs, I urged the Government to withdraw its objection to Worthing Borough Council's protection of the North Goring Gap at Chatsmore Farm.

Many residents will be following the council's Judicial Review at the High Court. The High Court case takes place on 20th and 21st July 2022 when we will hope to hear a strong case from the Council's Barrister and the Government's appreciation of why this matters so much to us.

It is wrong that the Inspectorate would overrule the elected council’s justified refusal to build over 400 homes in the Goring Gap. I first warned the Prime Minister of the threat in October 2019, when new planning rules were under review. We continue to make the case abundantly clear to all: Goring Gap must remain green.

Working as a Member of Parliament is about getting things done in the promotion of the well-being, health and happiness of my constituents and the communities around them. This is unending.

Today was an opportunity to focus on what matters to residents: where we live, where we work, and the world our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit. Other events will build and fade, we must not lose focus on the things that matter most to us.

The environment we leave behind, the landscape we protect, the communities we defend - these matter an enormous amount. We continue to fight for what is right.

25 March 2022

Gathering on Goring Gap

Worthing Borough Council is leading the local fight to save Goring Gap by taking the case to the High Court for judicial review. We support them.

The Council has instructed a barrister to develop a legal challenge to the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to allow hundreds of homes to be built at Chatsmore Farm.

I first warned the Prime Minister of the threat in October 2019, when new planning rules were under review. 

I have since raised the issue at successive PMQs, Business Questions and Housing Debates.

 

At the end of March, representatives and members from across our community united at Goring Gap to send a clear message to Persimmon: Goring Gap must be protected.

Chloe, from St Oscar Romero Catholic School, asked whether we really want to live in a world where we prioritise making money over the future of the next generation? Elliot, also from Romero, made clear that we can’t let people place bricks on our green spaces.

Cllr Robert Smytherman called on Persimmon Homes to enter into negotiations again to accommodate Worthing Rugby Club and bring the club back into the Borough of Worthing.

Cllr Beccy Cooper echoed the need to preserve these green spaces for the health and well-being, for our present now

and for the fantastic future of these children.

Cllr Kevin Jenkins, Leader of the Council, reiterated that Worthing only has 3.9 sq metres of green space for every adult in the tow: the lowest number in urban areas in the whole of the UK.

The battle will continue. This gathering shows the strength of feeling of all age groups, from all parts of our district and borough.

If this decision goes through, we will lose Highdown Vineyard, we will lose Lansdowne Nursery, we will lose all the land between Ferring and Kingston, Kingston and Angmering. The same thing applies to the Sompting side of Worthing as well.

We’re trying to do things for the next generation, not just for ourselves.

Goring Gap Photocall 26.03.22.jpg

25 March 2022

Demonstration at Chatsmore Farm

Unite with fellow residents, students of St Oscar Romero Catholic School, local Councillors and community representatives alongside regional and national broadcasters at 3:00pm this coming Friday to send a clear message - revoke the planning inspectorate's unjust and undemocratic decision.

We also join in giving the support needed to Worthing Borough Council in making the case clear for a challenge in the High Courts.

Meet at the entrance to Chatsmore Farm, north of the junction of The Strand and Goring Street. Bring your family, friends and neighbours.

Together, as one united community without divide, we say NO to Persimmon. We make our voices loud and our message clear.

16 March 2022

Prime Minister's Questions

During PMQs this week, I urged the Government to ensure the planning inspector’s decision to reject the council’s decisions on the Goring Gap proposals be immediately revoked.

It is wrong that the Inspectorate would overrule the elected council’s justified refusal to build over 400 homes in the Goring Gap.

I first warned the Prime Minister of the threat in October 2019, when new planning rules were under review. This development must not happen.

For 25 years, I have been privileged to serve the Arun wards of Rustington, Ferring and East Preston with Kingston together with most of Worthing. That had the advantage of full responsibility to do everything possible to preserve the green fields that give definition to the friendly neighbourhoods and villages that distinguish our community in West Sussex.

There remains one action the Prime Minister and Secretary of State must undertake: revoke this undemocratic and unwarranted decision of the Inspectorate.

I will continue to make the case abundantly clear to all in Government. Goring Gap must remain green.

02 March 2022

Open Letter to the Secretary of State

I have written to the Secretary of State to raise immediate concerns with the Planning Inspectorate's decision regarding Goring Gap and the Chatsmore Farm development.

Below is a copy of the letter.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
2 Marsham Street
SW1P 4DF

 

02nd March 2022

Dear Secretary of State,

I write with extreme concern regarding the Planning Inspectorate’s absurd decision to overturn the rightful decision of Worthing Borough Council to refuse permission for Persimmon to concrete over the north Goring Gap.

The decision must be called in for review. It must be overruled.

This is the green separation that maintains distinction and separation of Worthing and its neighbour Arun. In habitation terms, this divides the distinct communities of Goring-by-Sea and the village of Ferring.

If West Sussex Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space, if Worthing Borough Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space, if Arun District Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space and if the entire community is united in wanting Goring Gap to be a green space, surely Goring Gap should be a protected green space.

Worthing Borough Council, last year, turned down proposals to build almost 500 new homes over the treasured Goring Gap at Chatsmore Farm. The Council argued that this area is an important part of its green gap and that development would adversely affect the setting of the South Downs National Park and add to local traffic congestion.

The national Planning Inspectorate have granted Persimmon’s appeal and granted outline planning permission to concrete over the north Goring Gap, appeal reference: APP/M3835/W/21/3281813.

I do not believe a planning inspector should be able to overturn the decision with three vague paragraphs.

If any Inspector can trample on the democratic responsibility of the planning authority in this way, what is the point of Worthing Borough Council and what is the point of the member of parliament?

I am wildly angry, to put it politely.

Politics is a team activity. This, if allowed to stand, breaks my understanding of the mutuality of public service and democracy. This destroys the fundamental link of representation and authority between communities and our councils.

I have asked successive Secretaries of State to protect the Goring Gap.

I ask you now to do what is necessary and what is right.

Let this be a small stepping stone towards the rightful protection of our green spaces and of the rightful authority of our local councils and planning teams.

Yours with great concern,
 

Sir Peter Bottomley
Member of Parliament for Worthing West, Goring-by-Sea, Ferring, East Preston with Kingston and Rustington.

28 February 2022

Update on National Planning Inspectorate

Worthing Borough Council, last year, turned down proposals to build almost 500 new homes over the treasured Goring Gap at Chatsmore Farm. The Council argued that this area is an important part of its Green Gap and that development would adversely affect the setting of the South Downs National Park and add to local traffic congestion.

The developers lodged an appeal against the decision with the national Planning Inspectorate.

At the ensuing Public Inquiry, the Council made a very clear case against the development. Ed Miller of the Ferring Conservation Group made a very clear case against the development. I would like to think that I, too, made a very clear case against the development.

However, in spite of the clear case against the unwanted development, the Inspectorate has now ruled that the appeal should be allowed and granted outline planning permission to concrete over the north Goring Gap.

I am wildly angry, to put it politely. 


If West Sussex Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space, if Worthing Borough Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space, if Arun District Council wants Goring Gap to be a green space and if the entire community is united in wanting Goring Gap to be a green space, surely Goring Gap should be a protected green space.

 

I do not believe a planning inspector should be able to overturn the decision with three vague paragraphs.

I will seek to speak immediately with the Chief Whip, the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister.

The decision has to be called in for review by the present Secretary of State. It must be overruled.

If any Inspector can trample on the democratic responsibility of the planning authority in this way, what is the point of Worthing Borough Council and what is the point of the member of parliament?

The fight to protect Goring Gap goes on, the battle is not lost.

 

We can thank the hard work of many local community leaders: Ed Miller of Ferring Conservation Group amongst many others. The team at the Worthing Herald have been instrumental in ensuring important news is not lost amongst other pressing matters. Local Councillors have worked tirelessly, and continue to do so, in opposition to this destructive development.

19 January 2022

National Planning Inspectorate

 

For me, and for many in Worthing and Arun, this week is dominated by the Chatsmore Farm developers’ appeal against Worthing Council's refusal of planning permission for hundreds of houses on the farmland by St Oscar Romero Catholic School.

The Public Inquiry, an appeal lodged by the developers against the council's decision to turn down the plans, is being heard by the Planning Inspectorate.

To help the Inspector understand, when giving evidence I shared the aerial view showing the fields that define the village of Ferring, separating it from Goring-by-Sea and from East Preston and Kingston.

Every parcel of agricultural land seems to be seen as a building plot by a keen builder. This is wrong.

I explained that there was little sustained objection to the West Durrington development nor to Teville Gate, Union Place and the Gasworks site. The community and council is united in sustained opposition to the land-grabbing proposals for Chatsmore Farm.

For more information, please visit: https://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/goring-planning-appeal/

11 March 2021

Worthing Planning Committee Decision

At the Worthing Planning Committee, the planning application for cementing over the Northern Goring Gap was unanimously rejected. This is welcome news.

During the committee meeting, I shared my strong views in opposition to the proposed housing development.

Chatsmore Farm in Central Ward is the northern Goring Gap. If it is built on, the separation of the habitations is dramatically harmed.

For over twenty years I have fought against the opportunistic threat to the Goring Gap, the vital element of our shared well-being. Around London and Oxford, the farm would be designated green belt.

The entirety of the Goring Gap must remain as open land, not as foundations for hundreds of houses.

I back the local Goring and Worthing amenity groups together with the Ferring Conservation Group in the enduring campaign to protect Goring Gap and Chatsmore Farm.

15 January 2021

Update on Persimmon Planning Application

Persimmon’s application to concrete over Chatsmore Farm and desecrate the Goring Gap will now be considered at a special meeting of the Planning Committee on the 10th of March.

 

We can welcome this delay. Worthing Borough Council’s Local Plan, with its commitment to keep the Gaps as Local Green Space, is being given more time to progress and any delay in consideration of Persimmon’s plans will be in our favour.

 

Persimmon’s order book built up to record £1.7bn. This the the same company contradicting Worthing Borough Council’s aim to maintain the green fields between Goring by Sea and neighbouring Ferring in Arun District Council. Their profit is increasing at the expense of local communities and our environment.

 

The company board directors should come to account for their greed - or invite locals to ask questions at Persimmon’s AGM. I purchased a nominal amount of shares in Persimmon some time ago so that I could attend the AGM and hold them to account for their actions.

 

The fight to protect Goring Gap goes on. We can thank the hard work of many local community leaders: Ed Miller of Ferring Conservation Group amongst many others.

11 September 2020

Update on Persimmon Consultation

The message and video I have sent to the Prime Minister: we cannot allow our green lungs to be concreted over.

To the Ministers: do not dare to let otherwise acceptable planning changes allow the devestation of Goring Gap - a cherished natural divide greenbelt between Ferring and Goring.

Persimmon think it is right to put over 450 homes here. We do not.

Were we around London, it would be a formally recognised greenbelt and there would be national outrage.

I say to Persimmon, withdraw your proposals.

I ask that Worthing Borough Council hold up to their policies and do not approve this application.

Protect our Goring Gap.

9 September 2020

Planning Consultation OPEN

Persimmon Homes Ltd. Have, once more, applied to Worthing Borough Council for planning permission for 475 houses and flats - cementing over the north Goring Gap.

When Persimmon unveiled their proposals last October they received 588 responses and in their application, they only refer to one of these as a favourable response.

It would be perverse for this application to be approved when it is essentially the same as the previous unacceptable one.

It is clear that it is wrong for the neighbourhood and it wrong for the present residents and their neighbours. Community members made this abundantly clear locally during the 2019 General Election.

We welcome responsible and appropriate development to meet local housing needs, but our local green spaces must be protected.

There is no aspect of government policy that requires it to be approved – our local council must reject it. I stand united with local councillors, conservation groups and residents from across Goring, Ferring and Worthing, against this threatened development.

I am arranging an urgent meeting with the Housing Minister, Chris Pincher, to discuss this, among other important housing matters including leaseholder and commonholder concerns.

For those wishing to share their views, the deadline to respond to the consultation is the 30th of September.

To respond online, visit: https://planning.adur-worthing.gov.uk/.../applicationDeta...

 

You can also submit comments by email to:

planning@adur-worthing.gov.uk

 

or by post to:

Gary Peck,

Case Officer,

Planning Services,

Worthing Borough Council,

Portland House,

44 Richmond Road,

Worthing

BN11 1HS

9 September 2020

Planning Consultation OPEN

There is a threat of development at Goring Gap and Chatsmore Farm which will fill in the green lung between the sea and Highdown.

I stand united with local councillors, conservation groups and residents from across Goring, Ferring and Worthing, against this threatened development.

To most people, this is unwelcome and unjustified. We cannot concrete over the entire southern coast.

We welcome responsible and appropriate development to meet local housing needs, but our local green spaces must be protected.

I hope that you will support me to continue to stand alongside you and fight against the opportunitstic attempt to build on the Goring Gap; treat our environment with due seriousness and consideration; and support sensible developments of vital, new, good quality homes.

4 November 2019

Planning Consultation OPEN

In my last action as Member of Parliament for Worthing West ahead of the 2019 General Election, I have written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, urging for consideration and intervention should the proposals to fill Goring Gap go any further.

The plans for the proposed development of up to 465 new homes at Chatsmore Farm, an area of land that should be preserved, is as an opportunist proposal that should be withdrawn by Persimmon.

In the letter, I have requested that the Prime Minister make clear to the relevant ministry and department that any inspector nominated from Bristol to hear an appeal against refusal of a planning proposal will be restricted to gross obvious major misjudgement.

Necessary advisers at the Department for Transport can advise the Prime Minister on what happened at Worthing’s Lyons Farm affecting the A27. 

Goring Gap Letter 2019.jpg

This national road has been blocked much of the day for decades because of the mistaken decision by an inspector, overruling the Borough Council, that the road infrastructure could cope when everyone else knew it could not.

 

Worthing and Arun are limited to the south by the sea and to the north by the South Downs National Park. Neither populations should be at risk of losing the green lungs between them.