MP dismayed after council ‘ignores’ residents’ wishes over controversial homes

Nick Herbert
Nick Herbert
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An MP has expressed his dismay after councillors ‘ignored’ residents’ wishes to approve controversial housing plans.

As reported in the Gazette last week, Angmering Parish Council criticised Arun District Council’s decision to approve nine homes for land between New Place Bungalow and Arundel Road.

DM16152913a.jpg. Angmering parish councillors angry over overriding of neighbourhood plan by Arun District Council. Charman Susan Francis and L to R  Roger Phelon, Bill Evans, Steven Mountain, John Oldfield and Mike Hill-Smith. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160811-133128008

DM16152913a.jpg. Angmering parish councillors angry over overriding of neighbourhood plan by Arun District Council. Charman Susan Francis and L to R Roger Phelon, Bill Evans, Steven Mountain, John Oldfield and Mike Hill-Smith. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160811-133128008

The plans conflicted with policies in the parish’s neighbourhood plan – a legal document crafted by residents to shape the future of their village.

It followed legal advice that planning policies were out of date because of Arun’s difficulties in identifying enough land for housing. Click here for the full story.

Mr Herbert said: “I am dismayed that once again a village’s neighbourhood plan which was approved overwhelmingly in a local referendum has been ignored.

“The whole point of these plans was to give local communities control, allowing them to identify which areas should be developed and which protected. It is intolerable that these democratically approved plans are repeatedly being undermined.

“Such decisions risk further support for neighbourhood planning and they discredit localism.”

Mr Herbert, who previously supported a call-in for up to 400 homes at Fontwell, said he would seek similar action again.

He added: “I have already taken this matter up with the planning minister and will do so forcefully once again. I will also shortly be moving amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill to prevent this kind of thing happening in future.”

In a statement, councillor Ricky Bower, Arun District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure, said: “The council continues to seek an urgent meeting with government ministers to understand how they feel Arun should address this tension in the planning system. On the one hand, the government, through the Planning Inspectorate, is telling the Council it must plan for the delivery of significantly greater levels of house building than were envisaged when Neighbourhood Plans were being drawn up.

“Whilst on the other hand the Government has asked the Planning Inspectorate to review some, but not all, of the decisions taken by the Council, which has also been taken to address the need for additional housing.

“The council has no issue with subjecting its decisions to scrutiny but that comes at a financial cost to local taxpayers, whilst the inevitable delays put pressure on other sites having to be released instead.”