Goring Gap will remain undeveloped after plans for a camping and caravan site which attracted more than 400 objections was thrown out by councillors.
Applicant Sylvatica Limited hoped to construct the 46-pitch facility and amenity block on land north of Marine Drive, arguing it was a ‘much-needed’ tourist attraction.
But residents, conservation groups and councillors strongly objected to the ‘highly intrusive’ plans, which they feared could set a precedent for further development of the green gap.
Ilex Conservation Group secretary Bob Niall told Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday: “The gap has been jealously guarded and protected for 70-odd years and valued for its beauty, tranquillity, contribution to wildlife, as a strategic gap and is an invaluable asset with special significance.
“Should it go ahead, the value of the gap will be severely compromised.”
Goring councillor Mark Nolan said the application was a momentous moment, with years of speculation over development of the gap now a reality.
He urged councillors to reject the plans to send a message to the public that they recognised the gap’s value.
Councillors unanimously rejected the plans, with a lack of evidence to demonstrate a need for the facility and concerns about the suitability of the location the main objections.
But chairman Kevin Jenkins warned increasing need for housing would place more pressure on the town’s open spaces.
He urged residents to get involved in the ongoing local plan consultation to highlight areas they believed should be safeguarded.
He said: “We all value our green spaces but we are being challenged. We have a new plan to write and 636 homes (a year) as a number to provide which we may not be able to do, therefore all these spaces have got to be subject to scrutiny.
“One word of warning. We cannot say never forever and there may well be a need to consider how to use our green spaces differently.”
Take part in the local plan consultation by visiting www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/worthing-local-plan/consultation