Fontwell homes permission under government review

DM15227064a.jpg Residents up in arms over planning application for 400 new homes at Fontwell. L to R John Cann, Sue Wallsgrove and Kevin Trust. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-151117-174747008
DM15227064a.jpg Residents up in arms over planning application for 400 new homes at Fontwell. L to R John Cann, Sue Wallsgrove and Kevin Trust. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-151117-174747008

PLANNING permission for a controversial development of 400 homes at Fontwell has been suspended and could be determined by the Government.

Arun District Council granted permission for the Dandara development on November 25.

But planning permission is on hold after Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert urged Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark to call in the application.

The MP is concerned the decision is contrary to policies in the Barnham and Eastergate neighbourhood plan.

Mr Herbert said: “The Government has made great effort to promote neighbourhood plans and localism. It clearly runs completely contrary to national policy to undermine a made neighbourhood plan by allowing a large speculative development on land that has not formally been allocated by the district council as a strategic site.”

Following a meeting with local district councillors and parish council chairmen, Mr Herbert wrote to the Minister of State for Housing and Planning to request that he ‘call in’ the decision.

He said the issue was of ‘national significance’.

The Secretary of State has the power to determine planning applications which raise significant national issues himself, even if they have been decided by a planning authority, provided that the decision has not been issued.

Mr Clark will now decide whether or not to determine the planning application himself, or whether to allow Arun to make the decision.

The application was widely opposed by residents, with nearly 200 objections lodged.

But councillors were told Arun’s inability to identify enough land for housing was a major consideration.

Mr Herbert said that the Barnham and Eastergate Neighbourhood Plan stated that it ‘gives local people the power to decide where new housing should go’.

He said: “If this is to mean anything, this speculative development cannot be allowed. I hardly need to tell you how damaging it is to the reputation of localism to see a neighbourhood plan so swiftly subverted in this way.”

Rachel Allwood, planning director at Dandara, said: “Given the extensive consultation which took place prior to the submission of our planning application, we’re disappointed that Mr Herbert has taken this position. The application was granted consent by a clear majority of Arun’s development control committee, recognising the district’s urgent need for new homes.”

A spokesman for Arun District Council said: “DCLG has directed the council not to make a decision whilst the Secretary of State considers whether to call in the application. DCLG has not called in the application at this time.

“The council is currently awaiting confirmation from DCLG on how to proceed. Should the application be called in the Government would appoint a planning inspector to conduct an inquiry.

“However, if the application isn’t called in then permission will be granted once the section 106 negotiations have been concluded.”

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