Wick estate’s ‘safety fears’ are highlighted

Campaigners have fought for months to protect Wick's green spaces from housing
Campaigners have fought for months to protect Wick's green spaces from housing

A DISTRICT councillor has said the safety of the Wick estate would be in jeopardy if new council houses were built in it.

Ward councillor Mike Northeast gave an impassioned speech on Monday evening (July 21) appealing to Arun District Council’s cabinet to reject recommendations to approve the submission of a planning application for 22 new dwellings.

However, in spite of his efforts, Arun’s top councillors agreed in favour of the recommendation.

During Mr Northeast’s six-minute presentation, he said: “About 10 to 15 years ago, the estate was not a nice place to live. It was rundown, it was a transit site with a lot of anti-social behaviour, very low morale and there was certainly no community spirit there.

“Since then, a lot has happened. Improvements made with full co-operation of the residents have meant there is now a very strong sense of community and ownership.”

He said there were now plenty of community events which utilised the estate’s green spaces.

Mr Northeast continued by saying that if the new council houses were built, it would have a negative impact on parking, green space and the area’s protective fence by the dog walk, north of Greenfields.

“The removal of this fencing to accommodate the proposed new dwellings would again make the estate less secure and more open to undesirables,” he said. “It’s a myth that the building of these homes will in some way make the place safer – it won’t.”

However, Arun’s cabinet member for planning, councillor Ricky Bower, said the estate’s original design was ‘sadly lacking’ and full of excess space that ‘could not be justified’.

“The estate has some large open areas which, while pleasant in themselves, are not a good use of land,” he said. “They are fine as far as recreational space is concerned but we are in a day and an age now where we are required to have higher density housing on available land that there is for development.

“I don’t believe the amount of space that is in that site can any longer be justified.”

The decision does not mean new houses will definitely be built in Wick.

It does, however, mean a planning application can be formerly lodged with Arun.