There have been 2 disturbing incidents that occurred this last week in Aldingbourne Parish.
What follows is the Press Release which, hopefully, will be published next week in the Bognor Observer:-
VAG Draft Press Release
Aldingbourne Anger as Arun and developers ignore Neighbourhood Plan
Two developments in one day this week caused outrage among Aldingbourne residents who voted to approve their Neighbourhood Plan on 18th October by a massive majority of 93%: The destruction by developers of an important site for biodiversity and the granting by Arun District Council of planning consent for housing outside the settlement boundary.
On 2nd November heavy machinery began removing vegetation on land behind Orchard Gardens in Westergate, a site which had been identified in an ecological study as containing Common Lizards, a reptile species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The site forms part of the biodiversity corridor to the East of Westergate on which a planning application for 57 homes has just been lodged with Arun District Council. Another application for 350 houses by Cala Homes on adjacent land in the biodiversity corridor is also expected.
On 2nd November an application for 8 homes at Barnside in Hook Lane was approved by Arun’s Development Control Committee following a recommendation from Planning Officers who noted that it contravenes the approved Aldingbourne Neighbourhood Plan. The reason given was a shortfall in District Housing Land Supply and rising Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing.
After four years work two developers have just ridden roughshod over the wishes of the whole parish in one day!.
The Barnside development may only be 8 houses but it represents the thin end of the wedge: The site is outside the settlement boundary and on those grounds alone Arun District Council should not have approved it. However, it also contravenes other policies in the Neighbourhood Plan. 8 houses makes little impact on the District’s housing supply. The decision is completely at odds with a recent decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which upheld the made Yapton Neighbourhood Plan over an application for 100 houses. Council planning officers claimed to have legal advice about whether that applied, which they outlined at the Committee but have since refused to share with us, and the vote was split, with a casting vote by Committee Chairman Cllr Mrs MacConachie in favour. We are hoping Aldingbourne Parish Council will seek judicial review, because it looks as though Arun has acted outside its powers.
The wildlife significance of the site at Orchard Gardens was widely known thanks to all the publicity for the Neighbourhood Plan, so the landowners cannot claim they did not know that bringing heavy equipment on site would damage it. When neighbours saw what was happening they promptly reported it to Arun District Council. A Parish Council representative warned the landowner’s contractors they risked prosecution if they didn’t stop, and Arun made a site visit on the 3rd. We hope the authorities will now take the strongest possible stance in order to send a sign to other developers that damage to wildlife and habitats will not be tolerated anywhere.
The Government is honouring the relatively small majority vote in the Brexit referendum and people feel very strongly that their clear 93% majority vote for the Neighbourhood Plan should be equally respected by both Arun District Council and by developers.
A spokesperson for Aldingbourne Parish Council confirmed that the Aldingbourne Neighbourhood Plan represents approved planning policy but said they could not comment on the Orchard Garden’s site as the matter was now in the hands of the police. They confirmed legal advice was being considered in relation to the approval of the Barnside development.