West Bank housing proposal ‘essential’ for flood defences

L03801H15'''West Bank Flood Protest at Littlehampton on Saturday morning SUS-150119-105330001
L03801H15'''West Bank Flood Protest at Littlehampton on Saturday morning SUS-150119-105330001

DEVELOPMENT on Littlehampton’s West Bank is ‘absolutely essential’ to fund vital flood defences, a public hearing into Arun’s local plan heard.

Business owners told Government inspector Roy Foster plans for up to 1,000 homes should be included in the plan as it was the only way to pay for defences for the flood-prone area.

But a developer countered their pleas by suggesting proposals did not meet legal requirements and were not deliverable.

Robert Boyce, owner of Osborne of Arun Group, said: “The flood defences are absolutely essential and there is no other way of funding them.

“We have had raw sewage come through our homes and businesses and this can’t be allowed to continue.

“This policy must be allowed to progress. I’m very supportive and passionate about it.”

The debate last Wednesday was part of a three-day public examination of Arun’s local plan, the document which sets out the district council’s housing strategy until 2031.

Arun District Council said plans for the West Bank were flexible, with 1,000 homes proposed for the West Bank and Littlehampton area.

Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower said: “Plans for where the 1,000 homes currently proposed for West Bank or nearby in Littlehampton are still being considered.

“They are earmarked to be built towards the end of this local plan, which runs to 2031, so it is too early to say where exactly the homes will be built at this stage.”

Landowner James Baird said he believed the majority were supportive of the plans.

He said: “A lot I have spoken to are very much on board. They recognise within ten years they’re going to have to wear wellies every day in the morning or pack up their bags and go.”

Adam Ross, acting on behalf of Rydon Homes, questioned whether there was enough evidence to demonstrate Arun’s proposals were possible within the timescale of the plan.

He said: “I don’t object to regeneration of the West Bank. My point is more ‘do you have evidence before you to demonstrate that the delivery of 1,000 houses on the West Bank that council can rely on delivering them?’ My position is quite clearly ‘no, you can’t’.

“If it was expressed as an aspiration to deliver, given policy support for producing an area action plan, then if it falls away it doesn’t undermine the housing strategy.”

Mr Ross added the site failed to meet legal tests under planning policy, that require the council to consider sites away from high-risk flood zones.

Rydon is interested in developing land near Angmering, not currently regarded as a priority by Arun, partly because of concerns over groundwater flooding. In a representation to the examination, the Environment Agency stated the site was ‘not suitable’ for housing at this time but would continue to engage in discussions.

Arun said it had considered housing on the West Bank assuming flood defences would be built.

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