Protesters faced a blow yesterday in their fight against plans to stop heavy lorries using their road to reach a Barnham nursery.
The campaigners were set to see councillors support the move by Southern Glasshouse Produce to remove restrictions on one of its buildings.
The decision by Arun District Council’s development control committee to back the application for the Lake Lane site is being recommended by planning officer Sue Leeson.
The outcome from the committee’s debate will be given to the planning inspectorate as part of its consideration of an appeal by SGP.
The company has appealed to the inspectorate to decide the proposal because the council failed to make a decision within the eight week legal timetable for dealing with its application.
Among the protesters is Lake Lane resident Jan Halstead.
She said: “Some of us have been campaigning for nearly two years.
“The site is located in the wrong place and the lorry numbers are causing environmental damage to properties verges, ancient flint wall and road surfaces.
“People have become genuinely frightened of using Lake Lane because of the size and frequency of the HGV movements.
“We as a community feel so concerned about what is happening to this tiny rural lane that we have formed the Lake Lane Neighbourhood Group to show the commitment and concern we have for our semi-rural community.”
But Mrs Leeson tells councillors in a report they should approve the proposal as they were advised to do when they originally considered the application two months ago.
They deferred a decision to allow talks with SGP about building a new road through to Yapton Lane to take traffic away from Lake Lane.
But Mrs Leeson says the road could not be quickly created because SGP only owns part of the land. It would also be unfair under planning law to impose the road as a condition of any approval of the application.
“The appellant acknowledges concerns regarding HGV movements, but this has been established for 40 years.
“The appellant is concerned that the committee members would wish to consider the imposition of planning conditions that may seek to restrict the level of activity across the whole site,” she says.
Up to 98 two-way HGV movements occur each day among the 281 vehicles going to and from the site.
The dispute centres on two conditions imposed on the nursery in 1968 to restrict the use of a building.
One condition states the building can only be used for purposes related to the cultivation of the land. The other states the building must be demolished when it stops being used for horticultural or agricultural purposes.
But Mrs Leeson said the first condition had been ignored as far back as the 1970s.
It had been used for the packing and distribution of imported flowers since 1992 as well as flowers grown at the site.
A report from highways officers being given to the committee says they do not object to the proposal because they are sure the number of vehicles will stay the same.