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Consultation submission by former District Councillor Tony Dixon

October 24, 2013 1 comment

I have been asked to repost this:

CONSULTATION COMMENTS & OBJECTIONS to the Arun District Council draft Local Plan

By Tony Dixon – former Arun District Councillor for Barnham Ward.

I am also a member of Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH), a community based planning initiative brought forward through the Joint Downland Area Committee and which became a submission to the national Eco Towns programme. See www.fordenterprisehub.com

2nd September 2012

CONTENTS 

Introduction 

The case for a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield

a)      Use of brownfield land

b)      Advantages of a new settlement

c)       New link road from A259 to A27

d)      A27 Arundel bypass

e)      Transport hub

f)       Employment

g)      Comparison of a new settlement and the draft Local Plan

Conduct of the council

a)      Council-led community campaign

b)      Breach of the law of natural justice

c)       Withholding a material consideration from the government

d)      Comments by the Cabinet Member for Planning

e)      Bias in the dissemination of information

f)       Flawed public consultations

g)      Eco Town Select Committee membership

h)      Delays to the LDF/Local Plan and consequences

i)        Duty to co-operate

Introduction

In February 2012, the council confirmed that there were 4,933 households on its housing waiting list, individuals and families unable to get a foot on the housing ladder, often trapped by hereditary deprivation and many of these households are in priority housing need.

Band A                  90

Band B                  212

Band C                  1,530

Band D                  3,102

TOTAL                   4,933

OBJECTION: In paragraph 13.2.3 the draft Local Plan quotes a housing register figure of 1,800 and appears to be excluding residents in band D.

In the five years to 2009 Arun had the fastest growing Housing Needs Register in the entire South East Region.

According to Shelter, in Arun it takes 12 times the average wage (£17,888) to purchase the average priced house (£214,953). The lower the average wage the greater the need for affordable housing is likely to be and, not surprisingly, Arun has a deficit of affordable housing.

Ham, River, Pevensey, Marine and Hotham wards all suffer from serious deprivation – amongst the worst in the South East.

The council has persistently under delivered on housing provision, over many years – that is why it’s housing allocation was increased in the SE Plan. There is now a need to catch up. The wording is unclear but I think that the council is consulting on two options – 400 and 565 houses p.a.

SUPPORT: I support the need for 565 houses p.a.

This submission will make the case for a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield (possibly the largest available brownfield site in West Sussex).

It will also provide evidence that the council has breached the laws of natural justice in its attempts to avoid open minded consideration of a new settlement at Ford Airfield, on equal terms and alongside all other LDF/Local Plan options.

As a former District Councillor, I am aware that each member is individually responsible for his/her own conduct.

Through this submission I seek to make members aware of concerns relating to the conduct of the council and to provide them with an opportunity to address any perceived misconduct on the part of the council. It is for each individual member to decide what action, if any, to take.

(I recognise that some of the issues relating to the conduct of the council could have been reserved until the Examination in Public. However, if the Local Plan is found to be unsound at the EiP it will leave the district wide open to predatory planning applications and a further 18 months will have been lost. This would be disastrous for the district. I believe therefore that it is in the best interests of the district if members are given an opportunity to address these issues at an earlier stage.)

However, I must also acknowledge that some of the points relating to the conduct of the council have been brought to the attention of members before ……… and I am not aware that any member has done anything, other than to support the council’s conduct.

The case for a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield

Use of 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.”

SUPPORT: I support the statement in paragraph 13.1.14

OBJECTION: The council has deliberately avoided consideration of a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield (possibly the largest available brownfield site in West Sussex), on equal terms and alongside all other LDF/Local Plan options.

OBJECTION: The council seeks to use the findings of its Eco Town Select Committee as justification against development on brownfield land at Ford and instead to justify development of large swathes of greenfield land across the district. This submission will argue that the findings of the Eco Town Select committee are unsound.

Advantages of a new settlement

New settlements offer many advantages over village extensions.

New settlements can be carefully planned from their inception – enabling planners to introduce current best practice techniques in addressing housing, open space, leisure, recreation, employment, energy, transport and environmental issues.

They help to protect the existing urban built environment by reducing the need for “town cramming” or “infill development”.

They offer an opportunity to build family homes rather than flats. Affordable housing deficits can be addressed in a substantial, rather than piecemeal manner.

A new settlement, utilising brownfield land, would reduce the pressure on greenfield locations elsewhere in the district. Every acre of brownfield land used is an acre of greenfield land saved!

The main objective with village extensions is to utilise and therefore increase pressure on existing infrastructure like health facilities, schools, roads, sewage etc. 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 (which is downstream from the council’s proposed strategic allocation at Eastergate/Aldingbourne/Barnham) – with easy drainage to the River Arun.

Onsite energy production becomes more viable with larger settlements. Combined heat and power becomes possible – improving energy efficiency and sustainability.

Road layouts in a new settlement do not evolve over years – they are carefully planned from the outset. A link road between the A259 and A27 (bridging the railway at Ford) becomes possible.

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. A new settlement at Ford could generate a substantial contribution towards an A27 Arundel bypass.

A single new settlement can offer infrastructure contributions on a far greater scale than a number of smaller developments peppered across the district. For instance, the promoters for Ford Eco Town calculated their total planning obligation as £200 million.

See http://www.bognor.co.uk/news/local/developers-pledge-163-200m-towards-services-for-ford-eco-town-1-1492326

OBJECTION: The council is settling for a much lower level of planning obligation than might be realised through a new settlement.

We should ask – if the urban/village extensions of the last 60 years have been so successful that we would want to repeat them – then why is the local economy in Arun in such a poor condition?

New link road from A259 to A27 

To attract inward investment the council must first recognise that businesses need easy access to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) which, for Arun, means the east/west bound A27 and the north/south routes of the A3 and M3 in the west and the A24 and A23 in the east – all of which are largely dual carriageway and can support commercial traffic.

For instance, a new link road from the A259 at Comet Corner, bridging the railway line at Ford, to the proposed Arundel Bypass (pink/blue route) would provide Bognor Regis with improved access to/from the A27 and the SRN in the east.

By providing a new and additional route to/from Bognor Regis traffic would be dispersed over three routes to/from the A27 rather than two – effectively spreading new and existing traffic and thereby reducing congestion on existing roads. By contrast, proposals to focus large-scale development around the A29 would simply add pressure to the existing infrastructure.

A “diamond” shaped “ring road” would effectively be formed around the Five Villages by the A27, the A259, and the new link road, channelling traffic to/from Bognor north-eastwards and north-westwards to the A27 and onwards to use the designated SRN north/south routes of the A3 and the A24.

A “ring road” would preserve and protect the rural designation of the Five Villages.

OBJECTION: The council has not properly considered the possibility of linking Bognor Regis to the Strategic Road Network in the east.

A27 Arundel bypass

A new settlement at Ford is seen as capable of much more than meeting housing need alone but crucial to the delivery of local, regional and national policies which seek the realisation of economic potential in the Sussex Coastal Sub-Region and turning around areas of deprivation in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.

Attracting inward investment in better paid jobs calls for major improvements on the SRN and in access to it from those towns and also for business in a new settlement.

Key objectives of an Arundel bypass are:

  • Removal of the cause of severance to the town of Arundel.
  • Removal of the source of noise and air pollution for those living close to the present line of the road.
  • Improvement in safety and traffic flow on the trunk road.
  • Completion of the strategic road network to create conditions in which the economic potential of the District can be fully realised and major investment can be attracted.
  • Freedom for the local authorities to plan for sustainable transport and sustainable growth in Arun.
  • A district-wide carbon saving achieved through a significant reduction in journey times.
  • Deter rat-running through the South Downs National Park to the north and through villages to the south to avoid congestion on the A27.
  • Freedom for the local authorities to make improvements to the local network through:

a)      A ban on HGVs in Ford Road, Arundel and control over HGV movements  on Church Lane, Climping and on B2132 and B2233

b)      Greater safety and easier traffic flow on A259 and A284

c)       Safe provision for pedestrians and cyclists on the present line of the A27 between Crossbush, the station, Town, Hospital and Havenwood Park

Over the last decade Arun District Council has declined to link its housing requirements with improvements to the A27 at Arundel. This policy is now in conflict with the objectives of the new NPPF.

Paragraph 162 of the new NPPF states that: Local planning authorities should work with other authorities and providers to: 

  • assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure for transport, water supply, wastewater and its treatment, energy (including heat), telecommunications, utilities, waste, health, social care, education, flood risk and coastal change management, and its ability to meet forecast demands; and
  • take account of the need for strategic infrastructure including nationally significant infrastructure within their areas.

In the strict environmental context of the Eco Town process a contribution towards a bypass would not have been appropriate. However, bypasses are acceptable in other types new of settlement.

OBJECTION: The council has not properly explored the possibility that a new settlement at Ford Airfield could generate substantial planning obligation (or Community Infrastructure Levy) towards an Arundel bypass.

Transport hub

Development at Ford will provide the catalyst for improvements to the transport infrastructure and will create a new public transport hub for the district – facilitating a modal shift towards public transport.

Ford is ideally situated. Ford Railway Station sits astride the South Coast Main Line and is at the foot of the Arun Valley line. The South Coast Main Line gives access to Worthing, Brighton and beyond to the east, and Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and beyond to the west. The Arun Valley Line gives access to Gatwick, Horsham, East Croydon and London.

In spite of its quite unique strategic location Ford Railway Station has only 11 public parking spaces (with a further 2 for staff) and may well be the most underutilised London main line station in the country! Ford Station is an asset which could contribute significantly towards transport sustainability in the district.

With the combination of a link road from the A27 to A259, bridging the railway at Ford and removing the level crossing, and adopting the Parkway approach with ample parking to serve not just a new development but the whole district, a new Ford railway station relocated approximately 400 yards to the west would become the focal point of a multi modal transport hub serving the whole district and acting as the main point of access for rail services to the north, east and west.

Ford Railway Station is geographically equidistant between Bognor, Littlehampton, the Five Villages and Arundel and is ideally placed to relieve pressure on all existing Arun District stations – which suffer from inadequate parking and, in the case of Bognor and Littlehampton, the service limitations associated with being “end of line” stations.

In the case of Barnham, commuters take up most of the on-street parking and there is little parking left for customers using the local facilities. This has a detrimental effect on local traders. There is no room for expansion at Barnham.

Currently many bus services are poor or non-existent because they are considered unviable. Regular and enhanced bus services between Bognor and Littlehampton, via Ford Parkway and the industrial/commercial or residential area at Ford will then become viable, making travel easy and convenient for local journeys to/from work and also for longer distance commuting in/out of the district, contributing even further towards transport sustainability.

New residents at Ford would be ideally located to use the Coastal Expressway service.

OBJECTION: The draft Local Plan is car based and has failed to properly explore opportunities for alternative, more sustainable, modes of transport like rail and bus.

Employment

Arun’s main industries are traditionally horticulture/agriculture, tourism and retail. In essence the District is a low-paid and largely seasonal economy compared with other parts of West Sussex.

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).

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.

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.

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 seem fanciful and the council does not appear to have a strategy to attract employers to Airfield Park. It seems that the council’s continuing interest in this location may have more to do with a desire to salvage the failed 2003 Local Plan rather than to consider any alternative options. A vanity project!

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.

OBJECTION: The council has provided little credible evidence to support the viability of its employment proposals for Airfield Park.

Comparison of a new settlement and the draft Local Plan

It is interesting to compare the differences in proposed infrastructure provision for the district between any new settlement (by using the former Eco Town proposals as a benchmark) and Arun’s draft Local Plan.

It’s not an easy comparison to make because the draft Local Plan is so vague in many places, and the Eco Town process had strict environmental “rules”, but here’s an attempt:

Eco   Town Draft   Local Plan
Total   planning obligation or “contribution” £200 million Unclear – perhaps £50-60 million?
Pressure   on existing infrastructure Minimal Substantial
Development   of brownfield land Yes No
New   schools 3 0
New   health centre for doctors/dentists 1 0
Level   crossing bypass 1 1
Pressure   on existing sewage network None Substantial
Increased   flood risk downstream None Substantial
New   railway station 1 0
Contribution towards A27   Arundel bypass Not appropriate for developers to make an offer   in the context of an Eco Town submission – but good possibility outside Eco   Town process None
New   third route to/from A27 for Bognor Regis Not appropriate for developers to make an offer   in the context of an Eco Town submission – but good possibility outside Eco   Town process None
Jobs 4,000 higher quality, better-paid jobs, close   to the A27, in a cluster based around hi-tech environmental industries and   utilising the Eco Town “brand” to attract new businesses. 7,500 jobs, 4 miles from the A27, quality of   jobs and catalyst for attracting new businesses unclear. (Note of caution:   land allocated for employment in this location has failed to attract interest   from new businesses in the last 10 years).
Affordable   Housing 2,000 1,150

I have excluded the development proposals in Wick and North Littlehampton which, because of the delays in Arun’s LDF/Local Plan, have been able to bypass the Local Plan process. More on that later in this submission!

OBJECTION: The council has failed to properly explore how it can maximise planning obligation for the district.

Conduct of the council

The council has breached the laws of natural justice in its attempts to avoid open minded consideration of a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield (possibly the largest available brownfield site in West Sussex), on equal terms and alongside all other LDF/Local Plan options.

This calls into question the soundness of the Local Plan. 

Council-led community campaign

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.”

See Appendix 1 – Arun press release – Dismay at Eco Town announcement

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”.

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:

OBJECTION: Given that the cabinet voted to “mount a campaign against the principle of Eco-Towns in the District” those cabinet members, in effect, predetermined their position with regard to consideration of LDF option 2.

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

OBJECTION: An Eco Town is one type of new settlement which sets a very high bar for environmental considerations. The council has used the findings of its Eco Town Select Committee as a means of avoiding consideration of any other types of new settlement.

Breach of the laws of natural justice

The laws of natural justice have underpinned the English legal system since Roman times. They protect against arbitrary exercise of power by ensuring fair play.

The principles of natural justice form two basic legal safeguards that govern all decisions by judges or government officials when they take quasi-judicial or judicial decisions. One is nemo judex in parte sua (no person may judge their own case) and the other is audi alteram partem (the right to be heard).

(1)    Audi alteram partem (Latin for, hear the other side): no accused, or a person directly affected by a decision, shall be condemned unless given full chance to prepare and submit his or her case and rebuttal to the opposing party’s arguments.

(2)    Nemo judex in causa sua (Latin for, no man a judge in his own case): no decision is valid if it was influenced by any financial consideration or other interest or bias of the decision maker.

These principles apply to decisions of all governmental agencies and tribunals, and judgments of all courts, which may be declared to be of having no effect (ultra vires) if found in contravention of natural justice.

OBJECTION: A council cannot campaign against something (the “council-led community campaign” against the principle of an Eco Town) and at the same time consider it with an open mind (the Eco Town Select Committee) – Nemo judex in causa sua. Bias of the decision maker! The council has breached the laws of natural justice.

Res ipsa loquitor!

OBJECTION: The findings of the Eco Town Select Committee are unsound.

Withholding a material consideration from the government

When the findings of the Eco Town Select Committee were submitted to the government the council did not make the government aware that it was also leading a campaign against the principle of an Eco Town in the district.

OBJECTION: The council deliberately withheld a material consideration from the government.

Comments by the Cabinet Member for Planning

When Arun District Council announced its Core Strategy Issues and Options public consultation in the autumn of 2005 it organised a series of public exhibitions – 5 days each in Littlehampton, Bognor and Arundel. The Five Villages area was excluded (so was Angmering) even though it has a combined population far higher than Arundel and it was also an area under consideration for large-scale development, whereas Arundel was not.

Despite protests from the public and District Councillors Arun refused to hold an exhibition in the Five Villages.

Residents in Aldingbourne were already aware of, and sensitive to, development proposals made at the time of the Structure Plan and were concerned at the Council’s refusal to provide an LDF exhibition in the Five Villages. They requested a public meeting.

At the public meeting residents were briefed on the newly introduced LDF procedure, the nature of the first public consultation and were each given a copy of the consultation questionnaire. These were completed by residents in the privacy of their own homes. They formed a large part of the consultation response.

There would have been no need for a public meeting if the Council had carried out its consultation properly and included an exhibition in the Five Villages.

Then, on 24th September 2008, Councillor Bower, Cabinet Member for Planning and one of the leaders of the “council-led community campaign” against the principle of an Eco Town stated on the BBC’s Inside Out programme that;

Cllr. Bower – “50% of the responses came from one parish namely Aldingbourne and of those responses something like 91% of those who responded from Aldingbourne all said that Ford should be in the top three of their choices. It made us sit up and think – has this been an organised response? Was this something that there was an organisation behind perhaps?”

and

BBC – “If the Eco-Town doesn’t get the go ahead then the pressure to build will return here, to Aldingbourne.”

Cllr. Bower – “It is my understanding that there is a developer looking at this particular field here but there are other development sites around Aldingbourne and the Westergate area.”

BBC – “How likely is it that this would be developed?”

Cllr. Bower – “Well, I think there is a strong likelihood that it will be developed at some point in the future.”

See Appendix 2 – Transcript of BBC Inside Out programme 24.09.08 A video is available, if required.

Given that the LDF/Local Plan evidence base was in its very early stages what exactly did Councillor Bower mean when he said: “there is a strong likelihood that it will be developed at some point in the future”?

OBJECTION: Councillor Bower had already decided that development at Aldingbourne was “a strong likelihood” before the LDF/Local Plan evidence base was anywhere near complete.

The context of the BBC’s programme was one of community against community. Councillor Bower chose to introduce the LDF consultation response into the programme for his own reasons.

In doing so, he questioned (on national television) the motives of an entire community whose only “crime” was to be aware of the issues facing the district and to care enough to actively participate in both the Structure Plan and LDF public consultations.

It is unclear whether Councillor Bower was speaking in his capacity as Cabinet Member for Planning or as one of the leaders of the council’s “council-led community campaign”. Perhaps he felt that the Aldingbourne public meeting and consultation response was in conflict with the aims of the council’s own “council-led community campaign”?

Councillor Bower’s comments were insulting to the community in Aldingbourne and to all other communities that play an active part in public consultations.

OBJECTION: Councillor Bower deliberately steered the debate away from one of new settlement versus urban/village extensions into one of community against community in order to undermine the results of the council’s consultation – a result that was in conflict with the aims of the council’s own “council-led community campaign”.

OBJECTION: Councillor Bower’s comments were a deliberate attempt to turn the wider community against the people of Aldingbourne.

OBJECTION: Councillor Bower sought to create a climate in which local residents would be afraid to speak freely in favour of a new settlement for fear of public censure.

Councillor Bower subsequently provided a full written apology for his comments to both Aldingbourne Parish Council and Cllr. Mrs Briggs.

See Appendix 3 – Cllr. Bower statement to Aldingbourne Parish Council 16.11.08

See Appendix 4 – Cllr Bower apology to Cllr Mrs Briggs 16.11.08

Cllr. Bower also resigned as Chairman of the LDF sub-committee because his impartiality was compromised – this was reported in the Bognor Observer on December 18th 2008. A spokeswoman for Arun District Council stated: “The Local development framework is a complicated process and the council must remain impartial at all times. Cllr. Bower’s decision to stand down is appropriate given the circumstances.”

The article can be seen in Appendix 5 – Cllr Bower resigns – Bognor Observer 18.12.08

OBJECTION: Councillor Bower was swiftly reinstated as Chairman of the LDF sub-committee, as if nothing had happened, and continues in office as Cabinet Member for Planning – as a result the impartiality of the Council remains in question and his attack on the people of Aldingbourne remains a material consideration.

Bias in the dissemination of information

In an e-mail on 22nd August 2008, from Derek Waller of the Campaign Against Ford Eco Town (CAFE) to Ian Sumnall, Chief Executive of Arun District Council, Mr Waller states: “Dear Ian, Many thanks for, once again, hosting the CAFE meeting this morning”. The e-mail went on to thank Mr Sumnall for the blind copied e-mails from one of his officers!

The e-mail can be seen in Appendix 6 – Derek Waller reference to blind copies

This constitutes clear evidence that Arun District Council’s planning officers were blind copying e-mails/information to an action group opposed to LDF option 2.

The purpose of blind copying is to avoid others knowing. Such a practice, although not illegal, raises concerns about the ethics of the council.

Arun failed to disclose the information initially and it was only after an intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office that Arun finally supplied the blind copied information. Following the ICO investigation the Information Commissioner found it necessary to remind Arun of its obligations and issued a strongly worded warning that “if a pattern of delay were to emerge from separate complaints his approach would be likely to be a more formal one“.

The letter from the ICO can be seen in Appendix 7 – ICO warns Arun re future conduct

The LDF/Local Plan must be open-minded, transparent, and fair to all sections of the community.

OBJECTION: Blind copying of information, by planning officers, to one section of the community creates a perception that the council is secretly favouring that section of the community, at the expense of other communities like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton.

OBJECTION: It is not responsible behaviour for a local authority Chief Executive to host action group meetings (especially when that action group is opposed to one of his own council’s LDF options). Nor should Arun’s councillors have permitted this.

CAFE met in the council chamber/committee room 1 on a regular basis (I suspect that they used the council chamber more often than the councillors!). The council has acknowledged that officers attended these meetings.

See Appendix 8 – CAFE meetings schedule at Arun

OBJECTION: This constitutes further evidence of bias on the part of the council in favour of residents from Ford, and that the council is therefore acting with an equal and opposite bias against residents in Angmering, Eastergate, Aldingbourne and Barnham.

Flawed public consultations

Arun District Council’s approach to public consultation was called into question during the 2003 Local Plan – ultimately leading to a high court judgement against the council and a substantial bill for both the taxpayer and Bersted Parish Council.

There are flaws in the council’s public consultations for this Local Plan too, as follows:

a)      Core Strategy Issues and Options

When Arun District Council announced its Core Strategy Issues and Options public consultation it organised a series of public exhibitions – 5 days each in Littlehampton, Bognor and Arundel. The Five Villages area was excluded even though it was under consideration for large scale development and has a combined population far higher than Arundel.

OBJECTION: Despite protests from public and District Councillors Arun refused to hold an exhibition in the Five Villages. This led to a public meeting in Aldingbourne, a consultation response that was in conflict with the aims of the “council-led community campaign”, and the subsequent council-led “branding” of the community at Aldingbourne.

b)      Core Strategy Options for Growth – 12th February 2009 to 2nd April 2009

The timing of the mobile exhibitions was set for the convenience of Arun District Council’s officers rather than the public. The exhibitions closed at 15.00 hours which meant that only retired or unemployed people were able to attend.

OBJECTION: Large numbers of working people were unable to visit the exhibitions (around 37% of the working population leave the district each day to work).  The response to the consultation will have been distorted by the absence of working people.

The LDF Core Strategy Options for Growth consultation document describes LDF Option 2 as “Option 2: An ‘eco town’ at Ford” and question 7 asks “which option do you consider most appropriate for Arun?” and then goes on to list the options including “Option 2: An Eco-town at Ford“.

By contrast, at the Special Cabinet meeting on 14th April 2008 Cabinet 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”.

OBJECTION: Given that the council was actively campaigning against LDF option 2 the consultation must be seen as flawed.

It was common knowledge that Arun District Council was opposed to the Eco-Town proposals. The web site of the Villages Action Group recorded this in the following way: “The whole process of choosing between the 3 Options is deeply flawed because Arun DC are not acting impartially and have made it clear that they are absolutely opposed to the Eco Town at Ford, therefore leaving residents with only 2 choices when there should be 3.” 

See Appendix 9 – VAG web site home page

OBJECTION: In essence, the council created a situation where consultation respondents already believed that Option 2 was opposed by Arun District Council and so they were more likely to choose between Options 1 and 3, on the basis that a vote for Option 2 was a wasted vote. This was a badly flawed consultation.

c)       Draft Local Plan consultation – 19th July 2012 to 10th September 2012

This public consultation is deliberately timed to coincide with the summer holiday period.

Parish councils do not meet in August and so there is no official forum for the public to raise/discuss their concerns. Obviously many/most people will be on holiday during this period – that’s County Councillors, District Councillors, Parish Councillors, local residents, etc.

There is a huge amount of supporting information for the public to read and digest (I estimate somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 pages?). Can members of the public reasonably be expected to absorb and comment on so much information in a consultation period compressed by annual holidays?

OBJECTION: My concern is that the holiday period has been deliberately chosen to restrict the time available to members of the public and their democratically elected representatives and thereby to suppress public involvement in the consultation.

This paragraph is from the second version of the Draft Local Plan published 9th July 2012:

13.1.12 “With the 3838 units that would be required with the preferred housing target of 565 units per annum, it would be possible to adequately accommodate both broad strategic areas of growth in addition to the town and parish allocations.”

This is a significant paragraph because it is, as far as I can determine, the first time that the council has declared a preferred housing target of 565 units per annum.

This paragraph was not published in the first version of the Draft Local Plan (as published 6th June 2012).

There is no mention of this paragraph in the minutes of Full Council of 20th June, where the amendments to the first draft were agreed. At this meeting Councillor Haymes confirmed to members and public that it was just the housing numbers in the table that had changed and that the text remained the same. (Source: Full Council minutes 20th June 2012).

On the assumption that Councillor Haymes was telling the truth then where did the above paragraph come from? It appears that this paragraph has been inserted after the Full Council of 20th June.

OBJECTION: My concern is that this clearly expressed preference, and therefore the consultation document itself, has not been approved by Full Council – making this consultation unsound. In essence, the councillors have lost control of the Local Plan.

In the Bognor Observer of 19th July 2012 Councillor Bower, Cabinet Member for planning states;

“It will be gone by 2028.” and “The bottom line is that, as far as this council is concerned, the Woodgate crossing has to be bridged. How it’s to be bridged I’m happy and I believe the council is happy, to leave the decision to the residents of that area which is most likely to be effected by it. But the Woodgate crossing must go.”

See Appendix 15 – Notorious crossing will be replaced, vows chief

There are many things that could and should have been considered before the council reached its “bottom line”.

Is there any point in traffic modeling when the council has already predetermined its “bottom line”?

Is there any point in members of the public participating in a public consultation when the council has already predetermined its “bottom line”?

OBJECTION: I believe that the Cabinet Member’s intention was to dissuade the public from participating in the public consultation by making it clear that any representations would not make any difference.

OBJECTION: Given that the council has already predetermined its “bottom line” before the response to the draft Local Plan consultation has even been considered, the consultation must be considered flawed.

OBJECTION: The Cabinet member is, once again, deliberately trying to set different sides of the community against each other.

Eco Town Select Committee membership

The Eco Town Select Committee findings are highly relevant because the council seeks to use them as justification against a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford and instead as justification for the development of large swathes of greenfield land across the district.

According to the minutes of the Council Meeting of 7th May 2008, Cabinet Members who had already voted to “mount a campaign against the principle of Eco Towns in the District” took part in the appointment of Arun’s Eco Town Select Committee members.

OBJECTION: The membership of the Eco Town Select Committee was directly influenced by cabinet members who had already voted to oppose the principle of an Eco Town – calling into question the impartiality of the Select Committee.

Councillor Dr Walsh made a number of statements at Arun District Council, and at West Sussex County Council in the meeting of 18th April 2008 which were perceived by the public to imply his opposition to the Eco Town proposals, for instance;

this is less of eco-Ford and more of eco-fraud” (West Sussex Gazette 23rd April 2008, Bognor Observer 24th April 2008).

and the blatant scaremongering of: “There is disbelief that this can be funded from 5,000 houses and perhaps it may be a kite flying proposal for 15,000 to 20,000” Bognor Observer 24th April 2008.

See Appendix 10 – Cllr Dr Walsh – Bognor Observer 24.04.08 A video and full transcript are available, if required.

OBJECTION: Councillor Dr Walsh then went on to play a prominent part in the Eco Town Select Committee, as Vice Chairman, after he had, in effect, already made his opposition to the Eco Town proposals clear.

Delays to the LDF/Local Plan and consequences

I am concerned that the LDF/Local Plan may have been deliberately delayed.

Delays in the LDF/Local Plan have enabled proposed developments in Courtwick Lane for 600 houses (LU/355/10/) and North Littlehampton for 1,260 houses (LU/47/11/) to bypass the Local Plan process. The draft Local Plan now counts these as existing permissions (even though one of them has not yet been approved).

As a result, residents in Littlehampton have, in essence, been excluded from the Local Plan process.

OBJECTION: I am concerned that some, or all, Conservative members of the council  may have felt “encouraged” to delay the council’s LDF/Local Plan for party political reasons, by a letter from Caroline Spelman MP (then Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government) , and that as a consequence, developments in Courtwick Lane for 600 houses (LU/355/10/) and North Littlehampton for 1,260 houses (LU/47/11/) have, in essence, bypassed the Local Plan process, thereby excluding residents in Littlehampton from the Local Plan process.

See Appendix 11 – Caroline Spelman letter – August 2009

In February 2009, Arun District Council took a full page in the brochure promoting the Greencore development proposals for North Littlehampton (which later became planning application (LU/47/11/).

See Appendix 13 – Arun statement in Greencore brochure

This created a clear perception with the general public that the Greencore proposals were already part of the council’s wider masterplan. Councillor Norman Dingemans, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration stated in the brochure: “These exciting developments all fit into an overall masterplan that ensures nothing happens in isolation.”

OBJECTION: There is no reason for a local authority to talk about its regeneration proposals in a developer’s brochure (especially whilst it is considering those same proposals through its LDF) other than to give endorsement by association. The Council was clearly endorsing the Greencore proposals. I am also concerned that the council’s advertisement was funded by the developers.

Duty to co-operate

The new NPPF requires a duty to co-operate, stating; “It is important for councils and other public bodies to work together across administrative boundaries to plan for the housing, transport and infrastructure that local people need.

Chichester City Council’s planning and conservation committee (Bognor Observer, Sept 1st 2011) suggested talks with Arun District Council to consider the possibility of a new settlement (possibly at Ford Airfield) to serve the housing needs of both districts.

On 2nd September 2011 the council issued the following press release in response:

Resolve your own housing issues, Arun Cabinet Member tells Chichester 

Suggestions that land at Ford could be used to create a new town to ease housing pressures in Chichester have been categorically dismissed today by Arun’s Cabinet Member for Planning. 

Councillor Ricky Bower has ruled out the possibility of the area near Arundel being used for development so Chichester can meet its housing targets. 

His comments follow local media reports that a suggested recommendation was made by Chichester City Council’s Planning and Conservation Committee urging the Chichester District Council to work with Arun to create a brand new town of affordable and eco friendly homes. 

Councillor Bower today dismissed the suggestion, saying: “These comments by the City Council are unhelpful. 

“We understand that this debate was part of a wider consultation by the District Council on their core strategy. I am dismayed that the City Council would promote such ideas with no approach beforehand to the District Council.” 

“We have significant issues around housing pressures ourselves and are committed to delivering more affordable homes through our Housing Strategy Raise the Roof. 

“Chichester’s housing problems will remain solely with Chichester to resolve within its boundaries. 

“I assure residents with absolute certainty Ford is not on the cards for development. “ 

Later this year Arun District Council will go out to public consultation with its Local Development Framework – a blueprint of where the Council proposes development over the coming years. Ford is not included as an option. 

Every resident across Arun can and should have their say on this document when it is published. 

See Appendix 12 – Resolve your own housing issues, Arun Cabinet Member tells Chichester

OBJECTION: By dismissing Chichester City Council’s suggestion to co-operate so quickly, Arun District Council, once again, demonstrated an inability for open-minded consideration of planning proposals…. and that they are at odds with the objectives of the NPPF. The council is only paying lip service to the government’s requirement for a duty to co-operate.

Local Plan Representations made during the period 19th July to 10th September 2012

December 21, 2012 1 comment

Here are the Local Plan Representations made during the period 19th July to 10th September 2012.

Local Plan Representations: 2013_02_06__LP_Reps_WEB_EMAIL_LETTER_OTHER_UNKNOWN___WEB_objtns_rmvd_TD_v5

Appendix A: Appendices_A_V1

Appendix B: Appendices_B_V1

Appendix C: Appendices_C_V1

Appendix D: Appendices_D_V1

Appendix E: Appendices_E_V1

The appendices are well worth reading!

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

Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH) submission

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The Ford Enterprise Hub (FEH) submission can be read here:

Ford Enterpise Hub (FEH) submission

Submission by Portsmouth Water

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Portsmouth Water has raised the following concerns:

  • Para 20.0.2       SUDS can reduce surface water flows but can also increase the risk of pollution in chalk aquifers.
  • Policy SP24      The key indicator should be average pcc which includes measured and unmeasured consumption.
  • Para 20.1.4       Aldingbourne Rife is already failing the WFD standards for water quality and increasing WWTW discharges would represent a deterioration.
  • Para 20.1.9       The CAMS documents are out of data and the Chichester Chalk WRMU is no longer over licenced. Pagham Harbour is not impacted by abstraction.
  • Para 20.1.10      Portsmouth Water is only studying Aldingbourne Rife as part of the WFD and this is unlikely to result in any abstraction licence reductions.
  • Policy DM 39     There is no justification to setting water efficiency standards above Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes in Portsmouth Water’s area of supply.