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Last Chance to comment on Arundel Bypass proposals

This is not strictly a VAG issue, but the final Option that is chosen does have implications for future development and traffic in Arun District, and will directly affect the BEW area.

I have made some very recent changes to the comments below so please read through again if you need to inform your views on the subject.

Here is the website with info about how to respond: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a27-arundel-bypass/

or email: A27ArundelBypass@highwaysengland.co.uk The deadline is 16th October so you have 5 days to respond!!!

The VAG view is related to the knock on effect each particular Option will have.  Option 1 does seem the cheapest and common sense choice although it is strongly opposed by Arundel groups who see it as creating an eyesore with a flyover over the water meadows as well as not dealing with the problem of the town being split in two.  Options 3 or 5a are favoured by Arun DC.  These choices would allow a link road from the A259 to the Arundel Bypass but no connecting junction is shown on present plans. If there was a junction it would allow traffic/infrastructure for any new developments around Ford to access the main A27 easily. This would ease congestion on the already overloaded A259.  It would encourage further development  at Ford rather than at BEW.  VAG certainly supports CPRE’s desire to protect every piece of woodland and green area that exists, but I think almost everyone agrees that an Arundel Bypass is badly needed to relieve the traffic problems.  So, it is up to any readers of this post to consider all these points and decide what comments, if any, you wish to make to Highways England.

Note:

Option 1 is basically a modification of the existing route & goes just south west of the railway station. It has the major disadvantage of cutting Arundel  in two, and has a traffic light controlled roundabout at Ford Lane, which would do nothing to speed up the A27.

Option 3 loops through the pine forested area of Binstead woods. It then cuts through a coppiced chestnut wood. According to CPRE, there are valuable parts of this woodland and much of it is 400 years old at least.

Option 5a does not skirt the wood as the GoogleEarth view would indicate but actually does cause major destruction to some very old English hardwood woodland at the western end of its route and  would disrupt the dispersed settlement of Binstead which has the feel of a place where time has stood still.

In summary, the VAG view is that Option 3 is less damaging than Option 5a   Also, it does not disrupt the settlement of Binsted as disastrously as Option 5a.   VAG does NOT support Option 5a for the above reasons mentioned. Option 1 is the CPRE preferred Route and it does not damage the Binsted Woods.

CPRE, Sussex Branch views (from Director,  Kia Trainor), are as follows:-

All the current Arundel bypass proposals would damage the existing character or distinctive features in the surrounding landscape, including the South Downs National Park and its special qualities, mature woodland (most of which is ancient semi-natural woodland), the Arun floodplain, high levels of tranquillity and dark night skies, which are highly valued and cannot be replaced. The iconic view of Arundel and Arundel Castle from the south, views over the Arun floodplain and the setting of the SDNP would be heavily impacted. This is some of the best Sussex has to offer in terms of beauty and heritage – our national treasures. Approving any of the current proposals would go against Government guidance to avoid major development in National Parks.

However, If a proposal is taken forward, CPRE Sussex would like to see a re-working of Option 1 which has a much greater benefit to cost ratio than the other options. In addition to a lower overall financial cost, the close alignment of the new offline section to the existing A27 would reduce landscape and visual impacts compared to the other two options. Local groups developing improved proposals for Option 1 and we believe that this should be more fully explored as we move through further phases of the programme

I just want to highlight the fact that if Options 3 or 5a are progressed, not only will this cause huge damage to the Arun countryside and the National Park, it will also give the green light to even more development. Whenever we get a bypass we get infill development (for example in Brighton, the land between the city and the bypass to the West of the City called Toads Hole Valley has now been allocated for development – the city now comes up the bypass. Look also at Chichester) I would like to urge you to object to options 3 and 5a. I am happy for you to use the text above. If you are part of a parish or town council please, please see if they will object. Even if you do not abut the A27, this is your district so you have every right to have your say. Storrington and other PCs outside of Arun will be supporting Options 5a or 3.

You can view all the proposals at the first link to Highways England website. They have made videos of each of the Options.  There is also a very good Online Survey to make your views known. Remember, – the Deadline is  16th October 2017. Use the links at the top of this post to view the various Options and make your comments.

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Monday 25th September at the EiP

The session was due to start at 1.30 pm but the morning session had overrun badly and we did not get started until around 3.45 pm, which was very tedious. This session was aimed at the BEW proposals and various questions that the Inspector had put up for discussion of the parties. (See previous Post for a link to the Monday 25th Agenda)

The Parishes were represented very ably by Mr Martin Beaton (Chairman of Aldingbourne Parish Council). There were no other Parish representatives from Eastergate or Barnham present on the Monday. Mr Beaton spoke very passionately and knowledgeably about the threat that the CALA Homes development proposals posed to the local fauna and flora. He complained that the CALA Homes studies about the impact of the development were not adequate and missed the point about protecting any wildlife. The fields and hedgerows were very old and established and were now at serious risk of being destroyed. He proposed that any development on this site should only start after a clear gap was defined between the existing houses and the new development, thus protecting some of the old landscape amenity for the future, and for future generations.

The VAG was represented by myself since Laurie Ward, the Chairman was unable to attend due to business commitments. I could only second most of the points addressed by Martin Beaton since he covered them all so effectively.  There were no other representatives present to oppose the developers and Arun DC’s plans except Mr Beaton and myself.

We both questioned  Arun DC as to what date the proposed new A29 Woodgate Crossing Bypass would be built. NO ANSWER was received on this important and crucial question. They did not have a clue and so we can only conclude that it is almost an aspiration on their part. This is simply due to the fact that they do not have sufficient funds to finance such a long road scheme until all the proposed houses (2,300 + 700) are built. We pointed out that unless the Crossing Bypass road was built first there would be huge traffic chaos for years and years while hundreds of houses were being built adding to the already serious traffic jams in Eastergate and Westergate due to the inadequate roads and Level Crossing.  There was no answer given by either Arun, the developers or by the Inspector, who did not seem to have any familiarity with our area whatsoever.

The next major points discussed were concerning the Flooding issue.  The VAG commissioned Richard Allitt Reports were noted by the Inspector and I read certain of the Report Conclusions out to emphasise to the Inspector that we  believed that they were still valid arguments. i.e. that the BEW site could only sensibly take a small development due to the risk of flooding of neighbouring areas and downstream into Bognor Regis, thanks to the water displacement that any large scale development would create.  The developers responded by saying that they had made lots of water table measurements over 6 Months (!) . and thought that everything was just fine.  Martin and I both pointed out that 6 Months was not long enough !  They needed several years of data in order to gauge the situation correctly.  However, the Inspector did not seem to mind and things continued without any serious questioning on his part.

The Woodgate Level Crossing was then raised and we stated that we did not want it closed by Network Rail if and when the A29 Bridge was constructed. We said that the Westergate and Woodgate communities would be split and cut off from both the Post Office and the Price of Wales Pub. We also pointed out the detour needed to reach Bognor from Westergate, should this happen.   Arun said that they did not propose closure and Network Rail would take note of people’s wishes before any decision would be made. However, we all know that it costs money to maintain a crossing and unless people make their feelings known in force then the closure could happen one day. The new Local Plan avoids mentioning the subject, so perhaps you should start right now emailing and writing to your Councillors and asking them for their position on this issue.  We must also remember that if it was closed then the developers could gain a lot due to a much quieter cul-de-sac type road situation along Westergate street, – so we must watch this point like hawks in case it comes up eventually.

Finally, the question of the Lidsey Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) was discussed, and whether it was capable of serving the BEW development. This is a laughable question in our opinion because it is patently obvious to anyone that it is not capable at the moment of serving EXISTING requirements. This opinion is based on several incidents several years ago when we experienced some very wet winters and occasional wet summers during which sewerage overflowed into gardens and fields locally. Both Mr Beaton and I pointed these FACTS out to the Inspector. According to Arun and the developers , the solution to providing more capacity as the greater numbers of houses are built would be to construct a pipeline to the Ford Treatment Works.

I pointed out that the main reason for all the drainage problems and sewerage problems  was simply due to the fact that the land is too flat to drain at all.

The session ended quite late, just before 6 pm.

The VAG was not able to attend any other sessions due to other commitments and the fact that we feel that we did go to the most relevant sessions for the BEW proposals.

 

 

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Examination in Public (EiP) resumes at Arun Civic Centre.

The Villages Action Group made an appearance at the Opening Session of the re-started EiP following its suspension in February 2015 by the previous Inspector, Mr Roy Foster. The new Inspector is Mr Mark Dalkeyne.

Our representative on the first day was the VAG Chairman Mr Laurie Ward.  The Inspector went in turn through a series of questions which he had requested be answered or discussed at this hearing.

Laurie Ward spoke mainly on the issue of whether Arun District Council conducted an adequate Public Consultation Process in relation to the major changes and additions they made to the Local Plan following the Feb 2015 suspension. There were many critical voices on this issue, most of which were highly critical of the Council’s apparent lack of consultation with the general public. Mr Ward made several points about the general lack of information about the new proposals available to the public during the consultation period.  It will be up to the Inspector to decide whether there is a case for the Council to answer on this issue.  It was a very important point and generated quite a lot of emotion from the participants.

Martin Beaton as Chairman of Aldingbourne Parish Council spoke on behalf of the Parish and Louise Beaton represented the Aldingbourne Neighbourhood Development Plan.

It has also been very encouraging to notice the attendance of the CPRE Director, Ms Kia Trainor , at all of the sessions so far. The Sussex Branch of CPRE has made serious representations at this EiP in defence of our countryside and has paid a large sum for a barrister to put part of their case. They are now in need of Donations to help pay for this expense.  The VAG Committee is giving a considerable fraction of our remaining funds to help CPRE and we hope that some VAG members will also be able to help with a donation to CPRE.  Any amount will be very helpful. Please go to the following link if you wish to Donate to CPRE. –   http://www.cpresussex.org.uk/donate

The VAG is planning to attend again at the Session on Monday 25th September, when the issue of the 3,000 house proposal for Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate (BEW) will be the initial talking point.  We will be making some points on the appropriateness or not of such a huge development plus points about the Infrastructure (or lack of) such as Waste Water Treatment and the Flooding question.

The link to the agendas for each day is here:-       http://www.arun.gov.uk/local-plan-examination

The agenda for Monday 25th September at the Arun Civic Centre is here:-IDED34-Agenda—Session-7

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Call to Action – by CPRE at Barnham Village Hall on Friday 23rd June

The CPRE meeting at the Barnham Village Hall on Friday 23rd June was very well attended by local people. The speakers from CPRE were Kia Trainor  (the Director),  and Dr Roger Smith.

Kia Trainor opened the meeting and spoke about how CPRE was keen to help organise local people into a real force to protect this beautiful part of West Sussex. She spoke about how we are faced with having to deal with the OAN number (Objectively assessed Housing Need) of over 900 houses per annum.

(VAG has recently heard news that the Government wants now to at least double the OAN number in order to force mass house building upon us all. !!!! )

The second speaker was Dr Roger Smith who gave a very informative and helpful summary of where things stand with the Arun Local Plan.
He spoke very clearly concerning the likely impossibility of Arun being able to actually build houses at the rate suggested, and the fact that builders will only build at a rate that will not collapse the house prices.

He spoke about the way developers were “hoarding” planning permissions in order to maintain prices. He criticised Arun for believing that the economy would recover quickly to align with their unrealistic projections of economic growth. He spoke about Social Housing, the NPPF, and the 5 Year Housing Land Supply problem.

He concluded by mentioning the complete lack of funding for sufficient infrastructure with large housing projects and that most of the “viability” tests for proposed developments were always heavily weighted in favour of the developers.

His full speech is here :- RFS Speech Barnham23Jun17 ADC SETTING ITSELF TO FAIL

There were many other speakers, from Angmering Parish Council, Martin Beaton of Aldingbourne PC. Chris Allington of Eastergate PC and Terry Ellis from Littlehampton as well as a District Councillor. Terry Ellis suggested Crowd Funding in order to support our own legal challenge to this excessive house building.

At the end, Kia Trainor called for the formation of a group of local people to co-ordinate and plan for a suitable strategy to oppose the plans for mass house building in the area. This will involve commissioning of external support at some stage. The Villages Action Group has agreed to participate in any group that evolves from this CPRE meeting. We are now awaiting further direction from CPRE and will respond as required. However, we do still require more local people to give their time and energy to the Villages Action Group. Donations are also required in order to help us in this fight. Please use the Donation tag in the right-hand column to send any donations.

 

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Public Meeting by CPRE called at Barnham Community Hall on Friday 23rd June at 7pm.

This is a very important opportunity for ALL local people to express your views at this meeting to the CPRE representative concerning the Arun Local Plan.  In particular this will be a perfect opportunity to exchange opinions and give your concerns about the emerging Local Plan to an important and potentially helpful player (Campaign to Protect Rural England) who are often able to publicise contentious issues in the National Press.  We need to make our voices heard NOW.

Please make every effort to attend this meeting and tell your friends and neighbours about it as well.  A large attendance will clearly demonstrate to the CPRE Rep that we really care about what is happening in our region.  The Local Plan Examination in Public is due to resume quite soon, so it is important to raise any outstanding issues so that hopefully the CPRE can help us to protect many aspects of our region from excessive development.

One of the new issues to discuss are recent proposals by Arun to request Parishes to look again at already approved and voted on Neighbourhood Plans in order to push even more housing onto rural communities.

Details are as follows :-

When :-  Friday 23rd June

Time :-   6.45 pm for a 7.00 pm start and 8 pm Finish, Questions/discussions until 9 pm.

Where:-  Barnham Community Hall, Yapton Road, Barnham, PO22 0AY,

Room:-   Murrells Hall

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Villages Action Group response to the May 2017 Consultation on the Arun Local Plan.

We have taken some time to examine the latest additions to the Arun Local Plan and we have the following comments to make.

The new HPA figure forced upon Arun by the last Inspector at the suspended EiP bears no relationship to the historical net migration figures in Arun District. It is a forced figure which endeavours to create an artificial housing demand in this area from non-local people for houses which are mostly unaffordable by the local population.

There are very few local employment opportunities, both now and into the foreseeable future and therefore the vast majority of the new incomers would actually be out-commuters, which will only add to the energy footprint in this area as well as adding quite unnecessary extra air pollution for the existing residents.

This Local Plan threatens mass housebuilding across the district at 1000 homes per annum over 20 years, – In our view this is an unbelievable, undeliverable and unsustainable figure.

The road infrastructure in this area will not be able to cope with such a huge traffic increase and particularly now that the improvements to the Chichester Bypass have been shelved.

The OAN figure of over 1,000 hpa should be reduced to a more sensible and achievable figure by applying constraints due to such problems as flood risk, lack of jobs, lack of road infrastructure, lack of waste water treatment facilities. The major constraint is obviously the Flood Risk issue, since the whole area is part of a major Flood Plain. Any displacement of water by excessive numbers of new foundations for houses plus covering fields with tarmac and concrete can only result in greatly increasing the Flooding Risk to many EXISTING properties even if the new houses are built much higher to alleviate their own flood risk. Who will compensate existing home owners when their properties are ruined by floods caused as a consequence of excessive house building nearby?

In particular, we believe that the scheme to build 2,300 houses at BEW is undeliverable because there is now no plan apparently for the new road over the railway to be built before the house building begins (due to lack of finances). This would make an already difficult situation with the Woodgate Level Crossing even more problematic since the extra car traffic will cause even larger tailbacks which would never clear. Unless the road can be funded from the outset of the scheme and BUILT, then the whole idea of allowing things to take their course is fantasy. This is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Fontwell roundabout must also be included in any road upgrade scheme, because it is presently very difficult and dangerous at rush hours with the existing traffic load. All the new traffic which will mainly be heading North (since there are very few well paying jobs in Arun) will have to use the Fontwell Roundabout to reach the A27 or A29 so it is imperative that this is part of the scheme.

This area has large amounts of high quality land ideal for growing food. It is surely a crime against the future population to remove it from the Earthʼs resources permanently at a time when the population of our world is rocketing to huge levels at an alarming rate. We simply cannot afford to throw it away purely to accommodate a Government diktat, and, at the same time make many developers exceedingly rich at our expense. This land is irreplaceable. Greenfield Land should NOT be built upon now that we are in this never before experienced rate of population growth.

Only Brownfield land which has been previously built on or contaminated in some way and is unfit for growing crops should be used for new house building. Of course, any contamination should be removed before new building starts. When the Eco-Town was proposed at Ford Airfield in an earlier version of the Local Plan, the Council opposed it as unsustainable (in 2008) and yet it was on largely Brownfield land (a derelict WW2 airfield with huge concrete runways). However, we are now expected to accept similar size developments all over our district on Greenfield Land this time without any accompanying infrastructure or special technology supporting them as well as no extra road networks to help avoid massive traffic problems. Ford itself has a fairly small number of houses proposed in the latest LP version(1500 houses), and apparently, according to some sources, residents here would welcome more houses in order to prevent Ford being turned into a Waste Treatment centre. Oddly, Ford already has a very new Waste Water treatment plant which would be very useful for a larger scale development and it is mid way between Bognor and Littlehampton which make it much more sustainable in terms of commuting and employment. Ford also has a Main Line Hub Railway Station for any longer distance commuters plus the fact that the A27 Arundel Bypass has been confirmed by HM Gov for completion in 2022. All these factors must surely now make Ford far more suitable for large scale development (up to 5,000 houses) than any of the other Greenfield proposals in this latest version of the Plan.

We believe that the Sustainability Appraisal included in the documentation does not compare like with like and is therefore fatally flawed in a similar manner to the SA in the previous version of the LP. A glaring example which just repeats the errors made in the previous version is shown Table 4, Page 11 of the Non-Technical SA summary. When any comparisons between the Barnham/Eastergate/Westergate (BEW) site are made with the Ford site, there is a distinctly lower number of houses at Ford in ALL comparisons. How is this a balanced and non-predetermined Appraisal of just these two sites ? In fact Ford has a maximum of 2,000 houses proposed in only 2 scenarios, whereas BEW is NEVER BELOW 2,000 and is often 3,000 houses. How can this be justified when even in Arunʼs original own HELAA list Ford was determined to be very able to handle up to 5,000 houses ? Why has Ford been given special treatment with LOW numbers throughout except for just 2 scenarios and BEW has been given very HIGH numbers from the word go for ALL scenarios ? Any reasonable person would have to conclude that there is a bias in the way the two sites are being comparitively assessed. We do not accept that this SA document is a competent and balanced piece of work – based upon just this evidence alone. We have not the time to find all the other errors which may exist in this SA, but the BEW/Ford comparison is so glaring that we would not be surprised at all if some of the other comparisons were also flawed badly. Table 6 on P. 13 summarises the Final Housing Trajectory figures. Once again, BEW scores almost the highest housing numbers at 2,300 whereas Ford has a paltry 1,500. WHY ?? Ford is in Flood Zone 1 and is at much less risk than much of the BEW site for ground water flooding. Other areas such as Pagham are also at greater flood risk and yet in these proposals, up to 900 houses are planned.

A final point we wish to make is that Arun District Council has not communicated adequately with local residents about this latest incarnation of the Local Plan. There have not been the usual door to door poster drops and there have been NO presentations of the new changes at local Parish Consultation events. It is truly appalling that we, as local residents have apparently not warranted such events this time around. This is a point we have made to the Inspector.

Yours faithfully,

Laurie Ward,
Chairman
Villages Action Group

VAG Contact Email:- laurenceward162@btinternet.com

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Complaint letter to Inspector regarding Arun Local Plan

For the Attention of the Inspector for the Arun Local Plan EiP,

Re – The Arun Local Plan Consultation on Main Modifications 2011 to 2031.

Dear Sir,

We wish to lodge a complaint with you against the Local Planning Authority, Arun District Council for their inadequate communication, poor publicity and lack of engagement with district residents with relation to the latest Local Plan Consultation Process.

The Villages Action Group which represents the Inland Villages within the Parishes of Aldingbourne, Eastergate, Barnham believe that the Local Plan process has fallen short of the requirements laid down for it to be positively prepared.

Meaningful consultation should seek to first apply appropriate publicity with the aim of maximum engagement with the residents. – In our opinion, Arun have not.

Following proper publicity, the Local Planning Authority should seek to communicate effectively, reflecting residents lack of expertise in such matters and enable easy engagement. – Arun have not done so.

For those residing in the district who have the level of expertise which enables them to take part in this consultation exercise, they should be provided with accurate references, with correct content. – Arun have not done this.

To properly engage in this consultation, residents would have to either approach their Parish Council to seek their view in the consultation or contact a planning consultant to obtain their assistance. The level of technical expertise required to make a meaningful submission, leading to its inclusion in the outcome consideration is unlikely to be achievable by the majority of residents.

If a resident was to self educate them self on the process of engaging in the consultation, the time required to study the plan main modifications, make sense of it and form a response rationale would require more time than the period made available by Arun.

Arun have a very poor record on obtaining residents engagement, and this for a district that has a very high level of made Neighbourhood Development Plans which have all been positively prepared, through high levels of community engagement obtained through well-publicised Parish Consultation events.

Finally, district residents have to plot their way through the planning maze, be it Parish Council seeking their involvement in Neighbourhood Plans, the Parish Council’s or District Councils seeking their responses to speculative planning applications, or be it a District Council seeking their engagement in the long running Arun Local Plan process. The outcome is predictable, – that residents will often not bother as they have become increasingly perplexed by planning matters as well as cynical as a result of Arun’s poor performance in planning matters.

Arun District Council (ADC), in the views of many residents, falls far short of the aims and objectives of Positively Prepared Plans and in light of this The Villages Action Group respectfully requests that you instruct ADC to undertake the following…

Extend the consultation deadline by six weeks to enable the following:

  • Properly publicise the consultation through ALL media.
  • Organise consultation events across the district.
  • Write to all households explaining this consultation in a detail that successfully informs the residents of the process.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of these requests and look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Laurie Ward,
Chairman
The Villages Action Group

VAG Contact Email:- laurenceward162@btinternet.com

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