Councillors approve controversial Arun housing sites

Protesters outside Arun Civic Centre
Protesters outside Arun Civic Centre

PLANS to build thousands of homes throughout Arun were green-lit by the narrowest of margins at a full council meeting last night (Wednesday, April 30).

Councillors approved plans for 2,000 homes to be built in Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate, with 23 for, 18 against and four abstaining.

Plans to build 600 homes in Angmering proved less divisive, with 32 in favour, 11 against and two abstaining.

By agreeing where and how many homes should be built in the district, Arun District Council will now move forward in attempting to adopt its new local plan.

However, Villages Action Group chairman Mike Turner said his group would challenge the decision at the Examination in Public – the process by which public views are heard on a local plan before an independent inspector.

During an impassioned meeting, opinion was broadly split between councillors who felt a local plan needed to be adopted quickly as a defence against speculative planning applications and those who felt the plan needed to be revised.

Several councillors queried why key sites, such as Ford and Fontwell, had not been considered in more detail as potential strategic sites.

Beach ward councillor Dr James Walsh said: “I was asked to come to a seminar to identify new areas following the discussion we had at full council at the end of January.

“From that seminar, we came forward with distinct recommendations to widen the brief of the local plan to include land at Ford, land at South Fontwell and include land at north east Pagham.

“I left that meeting under the distinct impression that the the members’ views on that would be taken into consideration and would amend the plan that would come back to this council.

“In retrospect, the whole thing seems to have been a farce. Members views are listened to politely and then put in the dustbin. Members are here to listen to members of the public and respect their views and listen to them with respect.”

The meeting followed a public rally outside Arun Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, where hundreds, including Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, protested against the housing plans.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Herbert said 2,000 homes was too many for any part of the Arun district.

For the full report, read the Littlehampton Gazette on Thursday, May 8.