Plans to use a Bracklesham holiday park for agricultural workers’ accommodation has been given temporary 12-month approval by councillors.
South Downs Holiday Village, off Bracklesham Lane, which closed in January, was initially used without planning permission to house the workers.
Fears were raised about the loss of a tourism attraction and the impact of the sudden influx of workers on the village, resulting in 52 objections to an application to regularise the use.
Temporary permission for a change of use to accommodate up to 300 workers for a year was granted by Chichester District Council’s planning committee yesterday (Wednesday).
The applicant had originally sought a two-year permission for a maximum of 485 workers, while an informal limit of 230 had been set by the council until a planning decision had been taken.
Councillors generally supported the proposed use of the facility for a year but stressed the importance of exploring avenues to return the facility to tourism long term.
They also praised the work of the council’s community warden, who in the committee report detailed how they ‘have had very few incidents to deal with where the workers were responsible for any anti-social behaviour’.
They wrote: “Looking back to the very early days when locals were saying that the Witterings and Bracklesham would become the crime capital of the south coast, it is amazing how quickly things have mellowed.”
The warden described the turning point as when a group of mums baked welcome cakes for the visitors in response to the negative rumours.
Matt Brown, director of management company Cre8, described how the site was ideal due to the high standard of accommodation and ancillary facilities but said the company was looking at alternative sites.
Site owner Seaward Properties said it intends to put in a separate application for 86 homes on the site.
Graeme Barrett (Con, West Wittering) said: “I’m very concerned about the future of this site. There’s great concern within the community it will not go back to a holiday facility in the future.”
But Tricia Tull (Con, Sidlesham) said: “I think this is a terrific use of the site. For the moment I would support this wholeheartedly.”
Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester West) added: “I think the main concern about this was that a large influx of people would cause some problems, but the community warden is very reassuring that they have made very little impact in terms of problems for local people.”
Janet Duncton (Con, Petworth) added: “The workers deserve decent accommodation which this will offer them for at least one year.”