Representation from Tony Dixon to all Arun councillors

Here is the representation from Tony Dixon to all Arun councillors

“Dear members

You are being asked to make the most far reaching decision you will ever be called upon to make in your time as District Councillors – a decision that will have a major impact on the economic and environmental wellbeing of future generations.

Should you support the officers’ “vision” for the district? Or, as members, do you feel there is a better way forward for our district?

Please consider the following points:

Access to/from the A27

Any development at Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate (which will be necessary to fund the road) is instantly flawed because of the additional traffic that will be caused by the development itself. A development of 2,000 plus houses located between Bognor Regis and the A27 could bring up to 3,000 extra vehicles onto the A29 (based on 1.5 cars per household). These extra vehicles will be located slap-bang between Bognor Regis and the A27.

How will the residents of 2,000 new houses join the new road ? … more roundabouts perhaps?

Is the replacement of one level crossing and a mini roundabout with up to 6 new roundabouts, and around 3,000 extra cars feeding in to them, an improvement on the current situation?

This will almost certainly make access to/from Bognor Regis worse and act as a disincentive to potential employers!

Has the council provided you with any evidence to show that the proposed new road will be an improvement on the current situation? Where’s the modelling?

Has the council considered the possibility of a third and additional route to/from the A27 for Bognor Regis, linking the A259 at Comet Corner to the A27, bridging the railway line at Ford, and connecting Bognor Regis to the SRN in the east (A24 and A23 – both of which are dual carriageway)? This would spread existing and new traffic over three routes rather than the current two. It would also combine with the A27 and A259 to form a “ring road” around the Five Villages.

Have your officers even considered linking Bognor Regis to the SRN in the east?

Duty to co operate

What happens if the Inspector at the EiP increases the housing number? Would it be better to identify a location that can accommodate future growth?

By excluding the largest brownfield site in West Sussex from the Local Plan, will this make it more or less likely that Arun is required to make provision for additional housing on behalf of Worthing and others?

Brownfield land

One of the 12 core planning principles of the new NPPF is that planning should “encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value;

Paragraph 13.1.14 of the draft Local Plan states:  The development of land that has not previously been developed (greenfield) should only be considered where brownfield land cannot be developed.”

By prioritising greenfield development ahead of brownfield development could that jeopardise the Local Plan?

Cabinet and Officers will argue that only the runway counts as brownfield. The old PPG3 definition used to include the curtilage. (Presumably the curtilage was included to avoid runway shaped developments!!). Within the curtilage of the airfield there are 268 acres of brownfield land (making it the largest available brownfield site in West Sussex). I’m not sure if the new rules would include land up to the curtilage or not?

Developer contribution for an Arundel Bypass

The NPPF makes it clear that local planning authorities should take account of the need for strategic infrastructure including nationally significant infrastructure within their areas.

The then Transport Minister Philip Hammond brought our local infrastructure deficit into sharp focus when he advised a delegation from Sussex in 2011 that, although there was no funding available for an Arundel Bypass, if it was possible to get developer contributions the government would be more willing to look at doing something.

Can your officers demonstrate to you that they have properly explored the possibility of a developer contribution towards an A27 Arundel Bypass?

(By contrast, in order to make progress in these difficult times Chichester and WSCC are putting up £20 million towards improvements to the A27 to be funded through a combination of developer contributions and provident loans).

The A27 Arundel Bypass Wider Economic Impact Study by Parsons Brinkerhoff in March 2013 said:

“Based on the extensive Business Survey undertaken in the area and initial analysis, the preliminary results indicated the following:

An additional £493m would be added to total West Sussex GVA of £15.257bn;

Employment Impact: an additional annualised total of 12,600 jobs would be added throughout the seven districts in West Sussex;

Personal Income Tax Receipts: across all seven districts, an annualised total of £82m would accrue to Government in the form of personal income tax receipts from new employment;

Reductions in Jobseekers’ Allowance: across all seven districts, Government would gain approximately £38m from reductions in Jobseekers’ Allowance payments;

Increase in Disposable Income: the increases in employment will support additional disposable income being spent in the county. The preliminary estimate of this is £108m throughout all seven districts;

Attracting investment: the existence of the Arundel Bypass will remove the current bottleneck on the A27 and will significantly improve the ‘attractiveness’ of the corridor in terms of attracting investment and inducing land development (through distribution centres and business parks etc);”


The main objective with village extensions (albeit in this case dressed up as a new settlement!) is to utilise and therefore increase pressure on existing infrastructure like health facilities, schools, roads, sewage etc.

Genuine new settlements, on the other hand, provide their own infrastructure – placing much less burden on existing infrastructure, effectively spreading the pressure.

For instance, the existing sewage network across the district already struggles to cope. A new settlement at Ford would utilise the adjacent sewage works, placing no additional pressure on the existing network.

A new settlement on Flood Zone 1 land at Ford would reduce the risk of flooding in areas like Felpham and Middleton (which are downstream from the council’s proposed strategic allocation at Barnham, Eastergate, Westergate) – with easy drainage to the River Arun.

Members should demand that any strategic locations identified in the Local Plan MUST

  • Be on flood zone 1 land
  • Have no urban areas downstream
  • Provide easy drainage to the sea
  • Not utilise the already overburdened rifes for drainage
  • Not, in any way, add to, or make worse, any existing flood risks/problems

The Local Plan is unlikely to resolve the existing flooding issues but we can try to make sure it does not add to the risks/problems.

A single new settlement can offer infrastructure contributions on a far greater scale than a number of smaller developments peppered across the district.


Arun’s main industries are traditionally horticulture/agriculture, tourism and retail. In essence Arun is a low-paid and largely seasonal economy compared with other parts of West Sussex.  Our problem is not unemployment – it is low pay.

To drive average wage levels up Arun will need to focus on creating better paid employment outside the tourism, retail and horticultural/agricultural sectors.

The lower the average wage the greater the need for affordable housing is likely to be. Arun has a deficit of affordable housing.

Low wage levels create an unacceptably high level of outbound commuting. Currently around 37 per cent of the working population leave the district each day to work creating substantial road congestion, particularly at peak times.

The Living Wage is a voluntary rate of pay designed to enable workers to afford a basic but acceptable standard of living.  The rate is currently £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 outside – compared to the national minimum wage which stands at £6.31. New research for KPMG shows that Arun District has the highest number of people earning a salary below the living wage in the south east.

Over 34% of the 31,000 jobs in Arun pay less than the living wage, which means that Arun has the lowest living wages in the entire south east. By contrast, nationally 21% of jobs pay below the living wage. The south east average is 18%.

According to Nomis the average gross weekly wage for those working in Arun in 2010 was £399 – the lowest of the seven councils in West Sussex. This compares to a West Sussex average of £479 (20 per cent higher) and a South East average of £523 (31 per cent higher). The national average is £500 (25 per cent higher).

Arun ranks 63rd out of 67 local authorities in South East England when it comes to the ratio of jobs to population aged 16-64. (Jobs Density).

The 2003 Local Plan has failed to attract employment interest for the Oldlands Farm site. In spite of this, the council remains committed to planning its employment provision in this area.

Proposals for Airfield Park (or is it now Enterprise@BognorRegis) seem fanciful and the council does not appear to have a strategy to attract employers to Airfield Park.

Most of Airfield Park is in Flood Zone 3 (land most at risk from flooding). What businessman in his right mind will locate his business in Flood Zone 3?

In a choice between Tangmere and Airfield Park employers will choose the one that is nearest to the A27. A local company Respironics (now owned by Philips) moved from Bersted to Tangmere to be closer to the A27. The council appears to have learned no lessons from this. Any business park needs to be close to the A27 to succeed.

One of your cabinet members is promoting a horticultural hub – yet at the same time existing viable horticultural employment sites at Angmering (80 jobs?), North Littlehampton (200 jobs?) and Eastergate (100 jobs?) are to be closed so that the sites can be used for housing? That’s minus 380 jobs before we even start creating more low paid horticultural jobs!

There are many pressures on members now. There is a risk that the council is in such difficulty that it has reached a stage where anything will do – as long as it’s quick! There is a genuine risk that you will now be pressured into a bad decision.

For those of you who are open-minded enough to have read this far – thank you.

Good luck with a very difficult decision – I hope that you will make the only sound decision available to you and reconsider Ford Airfield!”



  1. May 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Well said mike nice to know another supports logical thinking

  2. May 3, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi Mike, yes it was a bad day for the entire district.

    There has been lots of “spin” on the subject of the Woodgate level crossing gate closures and if you can use your contacts to get to the facts it would really help. The problem with Arun is that if they don’t think the evidence will suit their argument they don’t look for the evidence in the first place! We the public must do it! (hence no modelling on the impact of the BEW settlement on the A29)

    I think we need to know:

    a) Can the gate “down times” be reduced by the implementation of better technology?
    b) If so, how much would that cost?
    c) Would Network Rail contribute towards a bridge at Ford?

    The Eco Town proposals included a new railway station at Ford. Sadly, that is gone forever!

    I agree with you about Cllr Charles’ amendment. I thought the debate was going really well until he made his amendment – it was ill thought out! It did alienate many potential allies. He suggested Fontwell too – very naïve! He meant well but was totally out of his depth!

  3. Mike Purdue
    May 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Tony, having watched the council meeting on the webcast, I was appalled at both the incompetence of the management of the meeting and the high-handed attitude of several of the councillors, who were determined to resist any attempts to vote down the proposals to build this monstrosity in the middle of our villages. However I think we missed a trick with the proposed amendment by Councillor Charles, when it appeared to be a last minute (as quoted “post-it note”) plan to spread the allocation to Ford and Pagham. The inclusion of Pagham to take more housing turned a number of possible opponents back in favour of the BEW proposal. If we are to accept that we need a large number of additional houses in the district, I think the strategy must be as you have indicated to locate the majority at Ford and provide a bridge crossing over the railway there. The other points you raise are perfectly logical and a well designed link to the A27 would encourage a great number of businesses to locate here and provide well paid and high tech jobs a short drive from Bognor Regis, or even a simpler and greener train trip to an improved and modernised Ford Station. I note your point about the bridge enabling closure of the Woodgate level crossing, and presumably saving Network Rail a considerable sum in maintenanceosts. I will try and find out if this might encourage them to make a contribution to the cost of a bridge, meaning perhaps less houses needing to be built to fund it!
    Anyhow, great article and it has reinforced my belief that they have made a farcical decision and the fact they did not even explore a Ford proposal but pressed on with a totally unsustainable “town” in the middle of our villages destroying this beautiful countryside, assures me that this decision will be overturned before too long.

  4. May 1, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Pauline watts indeed it is with huge thanks to Tony Dixon at full council he made all aware I was wanting to end my life reason in 2008 I awoke with no use of my legs I knew I had been born with a congenital heart block what I didn’t know was that for 49 years my heart was only beating at 40 pacemaker was put in too late damage done chronic inflamatory arthritis ra factor everywhere in 09 I was awarded dla high mobility high care I had paid my ni for 29 years shortfall 07/08 meant I had no money for living costs my partner of 25 years kids left home we were planning at last long awaited wedding I didn’t want him to give up his job and join me in my life sentence cab looked at our finances and deemed us below the poverty line we lost everything Nick Herbert was assisting adc rehoused only me in short made to live alone in 2011 as I’m under specialist care at bognor coping on cytoxic drugs same as is given to cancer patients they believed I was traumatised adc ignored so many got involved social services could not put commode by my bed no room I was told wear incontinent pads upshot as mine is a very long story I suffered 3 years antisocial behaviour and uncovered benefit cheat this is Finaly getting sorted honestly so much to tell at the goings on equality termed adc treatment of me abuse cruelty and discriminatition I was told to tell goverment adc dysfunctional they expected job loss honestly so much more to tell it was thanks to the people of bognor I wasn’t the only one 13 others complaints to adc via the local goverment ombudsman even houseing officer and psco read me the riot act my carer went to higher authority in police who went undercover fire services involved 4 summers limited air space 19 months not able to exit and enter the property I’ve done all the systems so many know of me I’m awaiting final response I’ve gone back to ombudsman who I have told as they made recommendations and stated I was aware all was getting blocked I’m told no answers and it all will be reopened it’s thanks now to Tony I have a home I will never get over what they did to me termed habitual and vexacitious and then this goverment termed me mental before moving they stated my family couldn’t do all I need more support Realy 6 months on nothing my medics my gp all appalled even CDC were wonderful they have assisted my carer who still has no home he is 63 his job takes him away so family friends assist me yes last couple of weeks I’ve learnt I’m right it has been a very long hard journey honestly I could write a book so as far as Tony Dixon is concerned he’s right and I wish people would take this on board without him my family friends and medics I wouldn’t be here today but every which way it’s round and round the mulberry bush brush it under the carpet but we don’t get heard and Realy most don’t believe me like tony mine is truth fact documented through this goverment but thanks glad you read .

  5. Pauline Watts
    May 1, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I can’t believe that I’m reading such a sensible representation of the situation. I want to know why this is being ignored and what is in it for those who choose to ignore this? I find it unbelievable that any Arun council member can still credit the destruction of the five villages given this alternative plan.

  6. John Penfold
    April 26, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Sir,if a bridge over the railway at Ford allows the closure of that level crossing,with very little extra investment a large development concentrated on Ford Airfield would permit the closing of Yapton crossing as well. Wouldn’t Network Rail welcome the closure of another potentially hazardous unmanned crossing which has a very tricky approach.

    John Penfold

  7. April 26, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Indeed a difficult decision reading the facts it makes logical sense and I for one hope that councillors will agree what is presented by Tony Dixon my reasons being to do otherwise would be a complete disaster in the making so please make the right and sensible choice of ford

  8. April 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Yes indeed a difficult decision I’m hoping the right decisions are made and to be honest ford airfield is by far the most logical choice after reading the facts it would be pure madness to think otherwise and hoping councillors will agree this would be the right decision

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