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.