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If the council has nothing to hide, will it publish the relevant documents?

October 27, 2012 5 comments

The Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership awarded £6 million of funding in support of a project at Airfield Park Bognor Regis, part of Arun’s enterprise@BognorRegis initiative.

The council’s press release can be read here: Celebrating a £6 million boost for Bognor Regis

(Notice how the wording does not make it clear whether this funding will need to be repaid or not).

It is being suggested by NewsBognor (see http://www.newsbognor.com/enterprise.html ) that this funding was actually a “loan” and that it has now been withdrawn by Coast to Capital on the basis of non-viability of the scheme.

If true, this raises a number of questions:

Question 1 – Were Arun’s councillors aware that the council had taken out a £6 million “loan” and, if so, how did they plan to repay it? What precautions were put in place in the event that the project failed to attract investors?

Question 2 – Was this “loan” bid approved by Full Council? 

Question 3 – By taking out a “loan” did the council predetermine its Local Plan policy for the provision of employment? (presumably the council wouldn’t bid for a £6 million “loan” unless it had already decided to go ahead).

Question 4 – When bidding did Arun make Coast to Capital aware that the land in question is in Flood Zone 3?

It seems pretty much inconceivable that such substantial investment would be provided without an assurance of “improvements” to the local infrastructure, specifically the A29.

In response to a recent public question the council stated:

The documents submitted to the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership contained commercially sensitive information provided by the developers and thus at this stage of the bidding process there is only limited information publically available. None of the documents referred to the upgrading the A29 from ‘Growing Places’ funding.”

An interesting choice of words. Nobody has ever suggested that the “Growing Places” funding was for “improvements” to the A29. It is a deliberate avoidance of the question.

Both Coast to Capital and Arun District Council have, so far, declined to disclose full details of the bid for this funding and the council’s part in that bid.

Question 5 – In order to win this funding, did the council imply in any way that large-scale development (at Barnham/Eastergate/Aldingbourne) would be used to fund “improvements” to the A29?

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. (which would mean only 230 houses to be built at Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham in the plan period). It would be impossible to fund “improvements” to the A29 from only 230 houses.

It would therefore be inappropriate for the council to express a “preference” for 400 houses p.a. and, at the same time, to give assurances to Coast to Capital that “improvements” to the A29 might be funded from planning obligation resulting from large-scale development. We need to know if this happened or not? 

Question 6 – Did the council make it clear to Coast to Capital that its “preference” was for a house building rate of only 400 houses p.a.? (and that this would mean no planning obligation for “improvements” to the A29). 

Question 7 – If the council has nothing to hide, will it publish all documents relating to its bid for this funding.

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Are we ready for the next phase of the debate?

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The population in Arun is now 149,500, an increase of 8,500 (6%) since 2001. It is projected to increase by a further 35,500 (24%) by 2033. There are currently 22,620 children under the age of 16 who will all require a home and a job quite soon. In May 2012, there were 5,188 households on the housing waiting list. Of these 1,855 were in the priority categories.

Against this background Chichester District Council said in its submission to Arun’s recent draft Local Plan consultation that the Coastal West Sussex Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update 2012 (SHMA), which is about to be published, concludes that meeting Arun District’s development needs would require provision of 600-750 homes per year based on demographic projections.

The South East Plan recommended a rate of 565 houses p.a. for Arun District.

Both of these housing figures are based on a robust and credible evidence base. (Local Conservatives do not like the “top down” nature of the SE Plan but they can’t deny the robust evidence base that underpinned it).

By contrast, there appears to be little or no evidence to support the council’s 400 houses p.a. “preference” – it seems to be little more than the personal whims of local councillors.

Arun’s preferred target of 400 dwellings per year falls well short of meeting the district’s housing needs. It was always unrealistic and was designed to divert attention from the real debate.

Once the SHMA figures are published the nature of the debate will change.

The need for the housing (and jobs) is evident – the question is should they be built on greenfield land at Angmering, Aldingbourne, Eastergate and Barnham or on brownfield land at Ford Airfield?

£6 million loan withdrawn?

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This reported on the NewsBognor web site:

“We have learned from sources within Coast to Capital that this loan to Arun District Council, referred to above, has been withdrawn on the basis of the non-viability of the scheme.”

http://www.newsbognor.com/enterprise.html

Read the update at the bottom of the page.

Where does this leave Arun’s enterprise@BognorRegis proposals?

The recent call-in as seen by a Parish Council Chairman

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a very honest assessment of the recent call-in and is well worth reading.

http://barnham.arun.gov.uk/main.cfm?TYPE=CHAIRMANSBLOG

The only point I would add is that the councilor who moved the motion for the second vote did so with reluctance since it clearly did create the impression that the outcome of the public consultation is of such little importance that it is not worth waiting for and when the voting came there were 5 councillors supportive of the RB/SM position and the other 5 councilors abstained/voted against.

The poodles are restless but they are still poodles!

Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH) submission to enterprise@BognorRegis public consultation

October 15, 2012 1 comment

You can read the Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH) submission to the enterprise@BognorRegis public consultation here:

FEH submission for enterprise@BognorRegis

Submission by Eastergate Parish Council


You can read the submission by Eastergate Parish Council here:

Eastergate Parish Council submission to Arun draft Local Plan

Submission by Southern Water


You can read the submission by Southern Water here:

Southern Water submission to Arun draft Local Plan