Change of use for empty Middleton farm shop is approved

Change of use for empty Middleton farm shop is approvedGuernsey Farm in Yapton Road (Photo by Google Maps Street View)

An application for the change of use of the empty farm shop and vacant agricultural buildings at Guernsey Farm in Yapton Road was submitted by West Sussex County Council. A new use class of light industrial, storage and distribution for the buildings was approved by Arun District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (November 24). Agent for the scheme Paul Carnell, from Strutt & Parker, explained that the shop had been vacant since the operator ceased trading last year.

The farmland has been let to another local farmer, but the buildings were not deemed suitable to support modern agricultural methods. Mr Carnell suggested the new uses would provide space for small businesses with no physical alterations planned to the buildings. But Jacky Pendleton (Con, Middleton-on-Sea) highlighted the ambience of this part of the village as agricultural with widely spread residential properties.

She added: “It’s not an industrial area, but rural.” She went on to describe how Yapton Road at this point is ‘not much more than a lane which already carries too much traffic’. To use the former farm shop building, Newlands Barn, for storage it would have to be accessed via a door to the rear via a narrow alley.

Mrs Pendleton suggested there would be a ‘very real risk’ of any forklift trucks or vehicles attempting to travel down the alley damaging the fabric of the barn. She added: “I think we need to protect Newlands Barn from the damage that accessing it via forklift-truck type movements would inevitably cause.” Shirley Haywood (Ind, Middleton-on-Sea) pointed out that the application would result in 863 square metres of building space for light-industrial use which would impact a ‘previously quiet semi-rural area’ due to increased vehicle activity and ‘all forms of pollution’.

The council’s conservation officer intends to look at whether the barn should be added to a list of non-designated heritage assets, but needs to prepare a report to the local plan sub-committee first, which is due to happen in 2022.

The possibility of deferral to wait to see if the barn is listed as a non-designated heritage asset was mentioned as was refusal.

But ultimately the application was approved on the casting vote of committee chairman Terry Chapman (Con, East Preston).