FURIOUS residents have called for an urgent review of planning policy after Arun councillors approved a controversial scheme for new council homes in Wick.
A total of 22 new properties were given the green light by Arun District Council during its development and control meeting last Wednesday (October 22).
However, campaigners from Stop House Building in Wick have said the decision ‘reeks of double standards’ and have questioned the council’s impartiality in determining its own planning applications.
Arun Ham Ward Labour councillor Mike Northeast, who is normally part of the committee stepped away from his role on development and control to speak in opposition to the plans.
Speaking after the meeting, he told the Gazette: “I just felt the whole application was dealt with in a quite disgraceful way, to be honest.
“I don’t think Arun can be trusted to look at their own applications.
“They spent an hour and a half debating whether a pub in Aldwick should become a supermarket.
“But when it came to debating about Wick, it was totally brushed aside.”
Mr Northeast said this flew against the wishes of more than 600 residents in Wick who signed a petition against the construction of new council houses.
He added: “There was a feeling of absolute deflation from the residents who attended the meeting.
“It was a real spanner in the works of democracy.”
Arun said local authorities have been permitted by law to determine their own planning applications for well over 40 years.
An Arun spokeswoman said: “The development control committee of every local authority determines each application submitted on its planning merits in line with the local plan for the area and government national planning guidance.”
She added any changes to this ‘long-established planning principle’ would be a matter for the Government to decide and not Arun.
Karin Ryk, who has lived on the estate since 1976, said campaigners felt the new homes would have a detrimental impact on the quality of life for residents already living in Wick.
She said: “My neighbours were in tears when they heard. I was nearly in tears.
“I was just so furious. It just feels that Arun hasn’t listened to us at all.
“It’s extremely disheartening, so much so that one of my neighbours who has lived here as long as I have, will be moving house.”
However, Arun has previously said the plans would help bolster its stock of council-owned properties per year and would help to address a ‘critical’ shortage of affordable housing.