Home > New Settlement versus Village Extensions > What is Ford Enterprise Hub?

What is Ford Enterprise Hub?

I was talking to someone recently who asked what is Ford Enterprise Hub?

The Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH) concept is a bold attempt to address the transport, employment and land use issues facing Arun District in the period after 2011, centred upon a disused airfield and an underutilised main line railway station, both at Ford.

The FEH proposals were originally written by three members of the local community – Tony Dixon (former District Councillor), Harold Hall (former County Councillor) and John Penfold (former Parish Councillor). John Penfold left FEH in January 2010 to concentrate on his new business.

They are not developers, not landowners, are under no party political influence and have no beneficial interest in development at Ford. They are simply interested members of the community who have played an active (in fact, pro-active!) part in the planning process since the beginning of the LDF back in 2004.

FEH is a vision for the future of our own local community, coming from within our community, it is a vision which stems from concern, experience and local knowledge.

FEH can therefore be properly described as a community based initiative – an early example of Localism.

FEH can be viewed in full at www.fordenterprisehub.com

FEH was introduced into the democratic process when it was submitted to the Joint Downland Area Committee (JDAC) in October 2004 and the West Sussex Local Transport Plan in January 2005.

In April 2005, JDAC passed the following resolutions relating to the FEH concept (the minutes relating to this were presented to Arun’s Cabinet in December 2005 and Full Council in January 2006):

(i)                  the committee note the contents of the paper and is anxious to see proper consideration given to the opportunities which it presents for a pro-active approach to land-use and transport planning west of the River Arun in the approach to a new Local Development Framework, the County Transport Plan and the Sub-Regional Strategy for Coastal Sussex.

(ii)                the committee is anxious that all options for development in the area post 2011 west of the River Arun are open for consideration.

(iii)                the committee notes the programme for Local Development Documents which will form part of the LDF and asks the District Council to advise when this committee will be consulted upon the Statement of Community Involvement, the Core Strategy, the Sustainable Communities DPD and Allocations, and Areas of Special Character SPD.

(iv)               the committee welcomes the status now given to the principle of providing infrastructure before, or parallel with, major development and urges ADC to apply that principle to development west of the River Arun and to see the construction of a by-pass on the A27 at Arundel in that light.

The JDAC resolutions require both Arun District and West Sussex Councils to give proper consideration to the opportunities raised by the FEH concept.

Then in October 2007 the FEH concept was submitted to the government’s national Eco-Towns programme.

Ford Airfield Vision Group (FAVG), a consortium of developers and landowners, also made a submission.

Government officials requested that bidders, in the two short-listed locations with more than one bid, work together to produce a single refined bid to avoid unnecessary duplication of meetings with government agencies, government departments, local authorities etc.

FAVG and FEH then worked together to unify their two complementary approaches in order to co-ordinate the production and submission of a single refined Eco-Town response to CLG.

The refined FAVG/FEH bid for Ford was shortlisted in the final 10 locations under consideration, but was not selected to go forward.

Now read the section of this blog dedicated to the “council-led community campaign” and you can decide for yourself whether the Eco-Town proposals were given open-minded consideration by Arun District Council or whether the Select Committee was a sham.

Why is this important now?

The Eco Town process is an integral part of the LDF/Local Plan. The LDF Core Strategy Options for Growth consultation, which took place from 12th February to 2nd April 2009, describes LDF Option 2 as “Option 2: An ‘eco town’ at Ford”  – at the same time the council was leading it’s “council-led community campaign” against the principle of an Eco-Town in the district!

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. Or was the council biased?

If you think there is clear evidence of bias on the part of the council then make sure you include it in your objections – then the issue cannot be avoided, and the Planning Inspectorate will have to give an independent and quasi-judicial opinion. 

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