By Kevin Smith
Determind homeowners remain on alert for demolition workers at a Middleton development site.
Residents from the Silver Birch Drive area have pledged to remain vigilant to the prospect of work at the former poultry farm after the first group of workers arrived.
One of the protesters, Tim Bell, said: “We are keeping a close eye on the situation to see what happens next. We have not had any engagement at all about the demolition despite what it says in the construction management plan.”
Up to ten residents staged a stand-off on the public footpath next to the empty farm after three workmen arrived to begin demolishing the derelict farmhouse last Thursday.
The workmen brought a large cherry-picker with them and eventually set about dismantling tiles and timbers from the farmhouse’s roof.
Two police community support officers arrived in the morning to monitor the situation. They departed at lunchtime to be replaced by a sergeant and two police officers. Also present at various stages was Arun District Council planning officer Juan Baeza and two district councillors, Shirley Haywood and Hugh Coster.
The workmen stayed all day as residents watched.
Mr Bell said: “I would call it a stand-off. We stood our ground but we were very respectful. We weren’t doing anything but drinking cups of coffee. We were a jovial but determined group.
“Quite a few of us would not mind the houses, or even the care home, if it didn’t interfere with the houses in Silver Birch Drive and the narrow access between numbers 12 and 14.”
At least six residents went back on Friday morning as the workmen returned for a half day. But there was no activity last weekend or early this week.
Last Thursday was a significant date because it marked the end of the three-year approval for 13 houses to be built on the former poultry farm.
It was also the day after separate proposals for the land to be used for a 66-bedroom care home were rejected by Arun councillors against the advice of their planning officers.
“We are pretty sure the developers will appeal against the care home decision,” said Mr Bell. “We are not sure whether the work which has been done keeps alive the planning approval for the 13 houses from 2017.”
An Arun spokeswoman said: ‘The site subject of the application that was considered at Arun’s development control committee, benefits from a previous planning permission for 13 dwelling granted in 2017.
“The works being carried out on site are the commencement of that permission. The council will be monitoring the works to ensure compliance with the conditions of that planning permission.”