A green space threatened by development has been considered ‘no longer suitable’ for housing after persistent petitioners scored a victory on Wednesday (July 12).
Arun District Council said Tupper’s Field, in Walberton, should ‘no longer be considered suitable for development’ and could be reviewed as a Local Green Space in the future.
It followed a petition of nearly 1,200 signatures, calling for the land to be protected.
Speaking after recommendations by ward councillor Norman Dingemans were carried, Walberton Parish Council chairman Suzanne Clark said: “It was a great
achievement, particularly seeing common sense and true democracy in action.
“In an age when people are so cynical about the political system it was refreshing to see our elected councillors representing their electorate without frustrating bureaucracy getting in the way.”
Arun and the parish council have been locked in dispute over the land.
Walberton wanted it afforded protection as a Local Green Space in its neighbourhood plan – an idea supported by an independent examiner.
Arun disputed the view and the designation was eventually deleted from the plan in December.
Cabinet member for planning John Charles said the parish council should have asked the Secretary of State to intervene at that time but instead ‘chose’ to proceed.
But following the petition, the council’s overview select committee recommended the examiner’s view should be upheld.
The recommendations, rubber stamped by full council, said Tupper’s Field should ‘no longer be considered suitable for development and be considered for potential as a Local Green Space when Walberton’s Neighbourhood Plan is reviewed’.
Former cabinet member for planning Ricky Bower lost a vote to amend the recommendations.
He wanted them to go before the local plan sub-committee to assess the implications.
He said: “They cannot be accepted as they stand as they do not take into account the district-wide effect on planning policy taking what is effectively an ad-hoc decision in light of a single petition.
“If adopted tonight it would become open season on any potential development site in the district from those who wish to prevent housing development with the consequential threat the our ability to deliver the housing numbers we are required to do so.”
Mr Bower’s tweak, supported by the cabinet, was defeated by 25 votes to 19, with seven abstentions.
The original recommendations were approved by a greater margin.
The petitioners’ victory does not mean planning permission will never be granted for housing.
Wates Developments has exhibited plans to build 200 homes on Tupper’s Field. A planning application, now submitted to Arun District Council, will have to be considered on its own merits.
Officers warned the overview select committee, which forwarded the recommendations to full council,they could be given little weight in planning terms.
“We cannot see how Arun can possibly approve it,” Mrs Clark said.