Horticultural hub could be set up to promote industry

INITIAL plans have been put together for an Arun district horticultural hub with hundreds of jobs.

The scheme is being compiled by the West Sussex Growers’ Association with West Sussex County Council and Arun and Chichester district councils.

Its existence was reported at a meeting of Arun’s local plan sub-committee last week.

Cllr Ricky Bower, the sub-committee’s vice-chairman, told councillors: “The proposals for a horticultural hub at the moment are going to generate 800 jobs or thereabouts.

“There will be some housing involved with that as well adjacent to the hub.
“They will need access to decent transport facilities and the quality of the employment they will be offering is towards the high end for the horticultural industry and using quite expensive technology.

“So, it’s a very ambitious proposal that we are seeking to embrace at the moment but it will take quite a bit of negotiation to get there.”

He stressed the proposal was in its early stages.

Sub-committee member Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) said: “We should look in a bit more detail in terms of an Arun horticultural super-hub and how we can encourage that and how we can encourage the different companies to work together.

“We should also see how we can encourage that sector to provide more long-term and skilled employment and make sure the residents of this district, or people coming in, can benefit from that.”

The horticultural industry was a very important employment provider in the district, even if some of the employment was seasonal, he said.

“I have often thought, and I know other councillors think the same way, we don’t make enough of the industry in our area in terms of the technological advances it makes and in terms of its long-term and seasonal employment,” said Cllr Nash.

He asked for the possibility of a hub to be included in Arun’s emerging draft local plan which will set out land use in the district for the next 15 years.

It was important in terms of the visual impact of the potential hub and the job opportunities it could provide.

But the council’s assistant director of planning, Karl Roberts, said the proposal was too vague to be included in the local plan.

It would be possible to feature it in the plan if more details became known before the final version of the document was compiled.