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Archive for June, 2012

Breach of the law of natural justice?


The council led a campaign against the principle of an Eco Town (LDF option 2) in the district and at the same time held a Select Committee to consider the Eco Town proposals.

I am no expert on the planning process but it seems to me that a council cannot lead a campaign against something and also consider it with an open mind.

It is contrary to the law of natural justice. (nemo iudex in causa sua – no man is permitted to be judge in his own cause).

Does this apparent breach of the law of natural justice call into question the soundness of the Eco Town Select Committee findings? (and is the council using the Eco Town Select Committee findings as justification for not considering all other types of new settlement?)

When the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee were submitted to the government did the council take any steps to make the government aware that it was also leading a campaign against the principle of an eco town in the district? Would failure to advise the government constitute deception?

Perhaps residents in Angmering and Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham should include this legal point in any objections in order to seek an independent and quasi judicial opinion from the Planning Inspectorate?

Formation of “council-led community campaign”


This purpose of this section of the blog is to explore whether the Local Plan process followed by the council is just and fair to all.

The Eco Town “process” is an integral part of the LDF/Local Plan and may now be highly relevant. If the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee are to be used by the council to inform the LDF/Local Plan (i.e. as a justification against a new settlement) then members of the public are entitled to ask whether the conduct of the council at that time was just and fair to all residents – particularly those in Angmering and Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham.

The council appears to be unique in that it is the only council in the country to have actually led a campaign against one of its own LDF options – the Eco Town (new settlement) proposals (LDF Option 2).

On 3rd April 2008, the council issued a press release announcing “an emergency meeting of the Council’s Cabinet has been called for Monday 14th April to kick-start a community campaign against the proposal” and “the Leader of Arun District Council, Cllr Mrs Gillian Brown, signalling the start of a council-led community campaign against the proposal said she was appalled that no account had been taken of the Council’s consistent and overwhelming objections to an eco-town at Ford.”

You can read the press release here. You can also see the difficulty the council had in locating the press release for a Freedom of Information request.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/copy_of_press_release_of_3rd_apr#incoming-221424

It is clear from this statement that not only had the council already decided against an eco town at Ford but that its intention was to start a campaign against those proposals.

At the special cabinet meeting those cabinet members present voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation: “the council, together with local organisations, mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District”. A small number of backbenchers also spoke in support of this recommendation. This recommendation effectively formed the mission statement of the “council-led community campaign”.

It was this recommendation that was subsequently put to Full Council.

Full Council declined to accept this recommendation – insisting that the words “principle of” were amended to “process being followed by Government to establish Eco-Towns“.

At the Cabinet Meeting of 12th May 2008 an adjustment was made to the minutes of the Special Cabinet meeting – changing the wording of the recommendation from “principle” to “process”.

As the minutes of the Special Cabinet meeting correctly record, no amendment to the recommendation was proposed, seconded, debated or voted upon. Therefore, was this an unconstitutional and inappropriate adjustment to the minutes?

Why is this relevant 4 years later?

The existence of the “council-led community campaign” throughout the early LDF/Local Plan process calls into question the soundness of the LDF/Local Plan for the following reasons:

By leading a campaign against one of its own LDF options was the council favouring residents in one section of the community at the expense of residents in other locations like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton?

Did the council’s campaign, by its actions, “steer” development away from Ford and towards locations like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton?

Given that the cabinet voted to “mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District” did those cabinet members, in effect, predetermine their (and the council’s) position with regard to consideration of LDF option 2?

An Eco Town is merely one style of new settlement which sets a very high bar for environmental considerations. Has the council used the findings of its Eco Town Select Committee as a means of avoiding consideration of other styles of new settlement?

When the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee were submitted to the government did the council take any steps to make the government aware that it was also leading a campaign against the principle of an eco town in the district? Would failure to advise the government constitute deception?

Residents would be well advised to include these points in their objections – it will then be for the Planning Inspectorate to decide their relevance in a quasi judicial context.

A29 Woodgate Study – 2012 and Lyminster Bypass Study – 2012

June 25, 2012 8 comments

The A29 Woodgate Study – 2012 and Lyminster Bypass Study – 2012 are now published on the Arun web site – see http://www.arun.gov.uk/main.cfm?TYPE=BACKGROUNDSTUDIES

How many existing jobs will be lost?


The introduction to the Local Plan states:

“Arun has determined that economic growth for job creation is its number one priority. It wants to enable residents of working age to be able to work within Arun. This is called increasing ‘job density’ and it is the central theme of this plan. The Local Plan will help to achieve this by diversifying the range of employment sites available to investors; protecting existing viable employment land from other forms of development, encouraging employment growth in manufacturing, cultural, office, leisure, retail and marine based activities and freeing up commercial enterprise from planning red tape through the use of Local Development Orders.”

So how many existing jobs will be lost?

In September 2008, the Littlehampton Gazette informed us that the proposed development site at North Littlehampton is an existing and viable employment site. A local employer leases the greenhouses to grow strawberries, raspberries etc. and so, development at this location would almost certainly lead to the closure of the business located there and the loss of around 120 jobs. What is the fate of that business?

On May 17th 2012, the Littlehampton Gazette informed us of a similar threat in Angmering, where pre-application discussions have started for the VHB West End nursery site. Another existing and viable employment site which employs approximately 90 full time workers.

Nurseries make a substantial contribution to food production and to our local economy.

The public must ensure that Arun honours its commitment to:

protecting existing viable employment land from other forms of development”

When objecting we must draw attention to any existing viable employment sites and the potential job losses that will occur.

We must also ensure that there are no “smoke and mirrors” when it comes to counting jobs. Job losses must also be counted – not just new jobs created. If any business is forced to close or relocate outside the district that constitutes job losses to this district.

If you know of any businesses under threat please post the details here for all to see. Tell us what the business does/produces and how many people it employs.

Can Cllr. Mrs Brown plant a lettuce here?


In response to a recent public question the leader of the council said that “she did not agree because, firstly, she disputed that Ford Airfield was considered to be a brownfield site as much of it had reverted back to agricultural use.”

If  Cllr. Mrs Brown can plant a lettuce here I’ll give £100 to a charity of her choice!

Local planning authorities should take account of the need for strategic infrastructure


The following is a public question put to the leader of Arun District Council at the meeting of 18th April 2012. The question was submitted in writing, in advance, as a courtesy to the leader and to assist with accurate minuting.

“Over the last decade Arun District Council has steadfastly declined to link its housing requirements with improvements to the A27 at Arundel.

The new NPPF makes it clear that local planning authorities should take account of the need for strategic infrastructure including nationally significant infrastructure within their areas. Also, that they should encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed.

A new settlement of around 6,500 homes at Ford Airfield (which, at 268 acres, is the largest available brownfield site in West Sussex) might generate enough planning obligation (or Community Infrastructure Levy) to fund an Arundel Bypass (in addition to much needed homes and jobs) and would also reduce the pressure for greenfield development in other parts of the district.

Does the Leader agree with me that failure to properly consider a new settlement on brownfield land, and its potential to deliver an Arundel Bypass, will render the LDF unsound?”

This is how that question was minuted:

“Does the Leader agree that failure to properly consider a new settlement on brownfield land (with specific reference to Ford Airfield in the preamble to the question), and its potential to deliver an Arundel Bypass, will render the LDF unsound?”

Notice how the council has censored the public question in its minutes. The council’s minute has failed to recognise that the question was about the new NPPF, and its requirement for local planning authorities to take account of the need for strategic infrastructure and also to encourage the use of brownfield land. The question also draws attention to the fact that the council’s long standing refusal to link its housing requirements with improvements to the A27 at Arundel is now in conflict with the NPPF. This has all been airbrushed out.

This is the answer to the question as recorded in the minutes:

“To summarise the Leader’s response, she stated that she did not agree because, firstly, she disputed that Ford Airfield was considered to be a brownfield site as much of it had reverted back to agricultural use; secondly, the suggested cost to deliver the Arundel Bypass was in excess of £200m and all options were being investigated to assist with its delivery – housing was not the only option; and thirdly, the Eco Town Select Committee had concluded that the development of a new settlement at Ford would be unlikely to be able to support the delivery of the Bypass and all the other infrastructure that a new settlement would require.”

Has the council manipulated the minuting of this public question to serve its own agenda?

It is worth noting that an Eco-Town is just one “style” of new settlement which set a particularly high bar for environmental standards. Bypasses were considered to be against the environmental standards of the Eco Town process. If the promoters had put forward proposals for a bypass at Arundel that very fact could and would have been used against them.

Can Arun demonstrate that it has considered any other style of new settlement, where provision of a bypass might be considered in a different light?

Airfield Park, Bognor Regis and the A29

June 18, 2012 5 comments

The Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership has awarded £6 million of funding in support of a project at Airfield Park Bognor Regis (the old LEC Airfield) – a project with a total cost of £83 million.

Limited details can be seen here Coast to Capital LEP £6 million award to Arun

Both Coast to Capital and Arun District Council have, so far, declined to disclose full details of the council’s bid for this funding. Why hasn’t the council published its bid document?

Members of the public in Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham will want to know if the council gave any assurances relating to the A29 in order to win this funding?

Why is this important?

In its draft Local Plan the council expresses a “preference” for a relatively low house building target of 400 houses p.a. at Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham (which would mean only 150 houses).  It would be impossible to fund “improvements” to the A29 from only 150 houses.

If the council’s preference is genuine, and not an attempt to deceive the public, then how will it fund improvements to the A29?