Hundreds of petitioners seeking to protect a green space from development scored a victory on Tuesday as councillors recommended it be deemed unsuitable for housing.
Walberton Parish Council wants Tupper’s Field, adjacent to Avisford Park Golf Club, designated as a local green space – protecting it from being developed.
Arun District Council officers resisted the call, made by around 1,000 petitioners.
But members of the council’s overview select committee agreed the land should ‘no longer be considered suitable for development’.
The committee’s decision must still be agreed by full council – and councillors were warned it would be a long process to recognise Tupper’s Field as local green space.
Arun could face calls to develop the land in the interim, with Wates promoting the site for 200 homes. Officers told the committee its recommendations could be given little weight if a planning application was lodged.
Arundel and Walberton councillor Norman Dingemans, who led the charge in overturning the recommendations to dismiss the petition, said: “Far more bodies and reports have said it is not suitable (for development) than any saying it is suitable.”
Walberton Parish Council tried to include the field as local green space in its neighbourhood plan. Its approach was supported by a government inspector – but Arun argued the conclusion was ‘legally flawed’.
The committee heard the parish council could have requested the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to intervene but instead took the plan to referendum without including the land as local green space.
To overturn that decision now, officers said, would threaten the progress of the local plan as new evidence would need gathering.
Mr Dingemans’ recommendations would allow the parish council to consider the matter when the neighbourhood plan is reviewed. They urged full council to ‘accept the principles’ of the inspector’s recommendation.
Speaking after the meeting, parish council chairman Suzanne Clark said: “We have always said we are prepared to review our plan and we have started the process which will allow for additional housing but will ask for Tupper’s Filed to be designated as a local green space.”