VILLAGES OVERWHELMINGLY REJECT PROPOSALS FOR THOUSANDS OF HOMES
Public meeting called by South Downs MP Nick Herbert
Residents claim Arun District Council's Draft Local Plan badly drawn up and ignores
Votes taken on acceptable number of homes to be built
Largest vote was for no more housebuilding until flooding and infrastructure problems
Hundreds of residents attended a public meeting recently, held by South Downs MP
Nick Herbert at Fontwell Park racecourse, to discuss Arun District Council's proposals
for thousands of new homes in the villages.
The proposals are contained in Arun's Draft Local Plan, and allowed for more than
2,000 houses in the greenfield open space between Westergate, Eastergate and Barnham.
Residents of these villages plus Aldingbourne, Walberton and other areas including
Bognor Regis, were addressed by Mr. Herbert and a panel including Arun District Councillors
Jean Goad, John Charles and Dougal Maconachie, together with West Sussex County Councillor
Mr. Herbert made it clear that he felt unable to support the Draft Plan in its present
form in which it proposed a minimum of 400 additional houses a year over the next
16 years, and asked residents for their comments.
These comments ranged from those who felt that there should be no additional housing
in the area at all, to one lady from Aldwick who suggested that all the proposed
building should be concentrated in a new town "somewhere in the district." This proposal
received little support.
Other residents commented on the proposed line of a new "Westergate by-pass" in the
Draft plan, running north-east from north of the Lidsey bends to junction with the
Barnham/Eastergate road at the Poling Motors strategic gap. No-one at the meeting
felt that this represented a satisfactory solution to the current road problems,
and Councillor Whittington spoke strongly against it.
Councillor Charles questioned the need for large numbers of additional housing on
greenfield land, pointing out that the official figure for the number of homeless
families for the Barnham/Eastergate area is 39, and this could easily be covered
by using existing brownfield sites and currently unoccupied housing.
The meeting concluded with show of hand votes called by Mr. Herbert on different
proposed housing numbers. However, the largest vote of support was for a proposal
by a member of the Bognor Regis Civic Society that there should be no further housebuilding
in the area until all the local flooding and infrastructure problems had been solved.
We understand that the Civic Society later asked Mr. Herbert if he will be taking
the result of that vote to government levels for a directive to fulfil that aim.
No commitment was made that he would do this, and our request to him for a response
to this question has not received a reply.