PLANS for a new production site and headquarters for a horticultural business have been given the green light despite calls to throw out the proposal.
A 16 hectare development for Langmead Farms will be built in Chichester Food Park after planners decided the economic value outweighed concerns about use of the area.
“It’s a big, modern, local business that I think we should be supporting,” said councillor John Ridd at yesterday’s Chichester District Council planning committee meeting.
The meeting heard North Mundham Parish Council objected on the basis that the office was an unacceptable build for land which has been designated for development which promotes horticultural growth.
Residents objected to the application because of concerns about light pollution, rat-running on Marsh Lane, traffic on Merston roundabout and HGV traffic on Marsh Lane.
They also voiced concerns about the proposed large office setting a precedent for development in that area.
Planning officers said they felt the size of the office block off Bognor Road was unnecessarily large, at 90m by 15m, especially as land in the Runcton Horticultural Development Area (HDA) should only be used for agricultural production.
The site, which lies within North Mundham parish, will include a horticultural glasshouse, pack house and office and will be used to produce, pack and dispatch fresh potted herbs.
It will provide 220 jobs - 100 of which will be transferred from current offices in Bosham – and it should rack up £20m for the local economy each year.
The committee was informed that the office would only take up 0.09 per cent of the entire developed site.
Cllr Tricia Tull said she understood the officer’s concerns but was in two minds. She said: “I have sympathy for this organisation wishing to have an office within one area.
“This office block is miniscule compared with the site we are looking at.”
Officer Andrew Frost told councillors he recommended refusal because HDAs ‘are a finite resource’.
Councillors voted to defer to negotiate conditions, then permit.
The conditions will include; restrictions for light pollution and working hours, noise mitigation, and highways improvement contributions.
Another condition will be to ensure the offices are not used before the production facility is in use, to ensure the office is not built without the rest of the development.
For the full report read next Thursday’s Observer.