Councillor Lee Cowen (Mash Barn) writes in response to a Worthing Herald article headlined ‘IKEA has left council in limbo over Lancing site’ published this month.
He said: “The headline itself quotes the leader of the council, Councillor Parkin, but that’s hardly the full story. Much of the blame for the council being in ‘limbo’ can be apportioned to the way the council approached the use of this land. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that I was against this section of the Local Plan 2017 and voted against it along with several other councillors. I didn’t feel it proper that IKEA should be leading the formation of our Local Plan. The tail is wagging the dog.
The council was allocating a piece of New Monks Farm with an A1 usage class (shops) which wasn’t what was needed in the area. The Local Plan itself even quotes the Adur Employment Land Review 2014 which indicated employment needs were for B1 usage class (Office and Research and Development). Basically, high value technical jobs in the creative, digital or environmental industries.
The council ignored it. Instead they pushed hard for IKEA spending a considerable amount of resources on it. The A27 is one of the most congested roads in the South and they were going to invite an estimated 2 million customers onto it. I vociferously opposed the planning application, leading to me having to step off the planning committee.
Now we have an IKEA sized gaping hole on the site. IKEA is looking to sell the site and the council wants input into how to market it. Of course they will want to sell to the highest bidder.
The council contacted IKEA requesting high value employment on this site and should seek a sale with this in mind. Cllr Parkin stated he would not support a retail park, trade park, or ‘homogenous logistics shed’. The mind boggles.
The council are now stipulating a land use which is different to the one which they granted to IKEA in the first place! Is it any surprise that IKEA isn’t taking them seriously?
It’s a screeching U-turn and now they have a ‘limbo’ situation which they have brought upon themselves.”
This was published as a letter in the Herald on 17 March. Lee is leader off the Labour group on Adur District Council and councillor for Mash Barn ward in Lancing.