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

  1. Kim Miller says:

    Excellent reasoning-especially re Ford Airfield.I understand the Gouvernment ,not long ago, made available funds for developers to use to reclaim brown field sites (in this case runway removal).The costs of this sort of work put developers off in the past,This is an ideal site that should be first in line.I am writing to the Church Commissioners to prevail on their Christian and Parish responsability re the proposed Westergate development Kim Miller

  2. VAG says:

    We agree that the merits of Ford are way above those of the Barnham-Eastergate-Westergate (BEW) site. The fact that it has a Main Line Railway Station and a promised link to the new Arundel Bypass by 2022 should be reason enough. One must ask the question – Why do Arun view it so unfavourably , when their own assessment in their HELAA document clearly states that it can take 5,000 houses ??

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