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Representation from Tony Dixon to all Arun councillors

April 17, 2015 1 comment

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);”

Infrastructure

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.

Employment

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!”

 

 

Representation from Tony Dixon to all Arun councillors

April 26, 2014 8 comments

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);”

Infrastructure

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.

Employment

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!”

 

 

Villages Action Group, AGM, and its relationship with Nick Herbert MP

November 3, 2013 3 comments

For those who are interested the Villages Action Group (VAG) AGM is being held at the Westergate School on November 22nd at 6.30 p.m.

On its web site VAG states “Mr Nick Herbert MP has kindly offered to attend and speak at the Public Session of our AGM”  and “Nick Herbert MP has been a very constant campaigner in support of our cause which is to prevent unsustainable housing development in rural areas.”

I am uncomfortable with VAG’s relationship with Mr Herbert and so I shall not attend. (in fact, I can’t even understand why VAG would want him there!)

Here are a few non-sycophantic thoughts instead:

When brownfield land at the disused Ford Airfield was under the spotlight for development (a new settlement as an alternative to village extensions) Mr Herbert probably did more than anyone in the Arun district to “steer” development away from Ford Airfield and instead towards the villages of Barnham, Eastergate, Westergate and Angmering.

Mr Herbert was fully aware that merging the three historic villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate and a smaller development at Angmering were the most likely alternatives when he campaigned against a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield. VAG appears not to have noticed this.

I fail to understand why VAG see Mr Herbert as their ally?

Of course, Mr Herbert can always be relied upon to oppose housing whenever or wherever there is a development proposal. He will never say where housing should be located – instead he trots around his constituency saying, not here, not here, not here etc. Mr Herbert’s position is unrealistic, and that is now becoming increasingly apparent, but many will be taken in by it.

It’s quite obvious that the housing will have to go somewhere. In days gone by MPs generally acted in a more responsible manner than today’s career politicians. For instance, a more responsible MP might have recognised that the housing is actually inevitable and even desirable (the average age of a first time buyer is now 35, the average age to leave home is 27), and instead, led a grown up debate to consider the merits or otherwise of a new settlement versus village extensions. Mr Herbert has never shown much interest in that kind of open-minded debate.

The Arundel & South Downs Conservative Association (ASDCA) is distributing flyers in the Barnham, Eastergate & Westergate (BE&W) area calling for residents to join them in opposing unsustainable development. The leaflet is, of course, deliberately not site specific.

At the same time Conservative councillors (many of whom are sponsored by ASDCA) are promoting strategic development in the BE&W area. They obviously believe it’s sustainable or they wouldn’t be doing it!

I recently wrote to the Chairman of ASDCA to seek clarification on the meaning of their flyer, asking “does ASDCA believe that the proposed strategic allocation at Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate in Arun’s draft Local Plan is UNSUSTAINABLE or SUSTAINABLE?”  The Chairman has not responded. She appears unwilling to describe the BE&W strategic location as unsustainable! No surprise there then!

I can’t help thinking that this flyer is a deliberate ploy by local politicians to face two ways at the same time.  (by being non site specific they can always say that they meant all the other developments were unsustainable not that one!). Is VAG seeking clarification on ASDCA’s position?

It seems to me that, as a direct result of delays to the Local Plan, most communities across the district are now facing a tsunami of unwelcome planning applications. A swift decision to create a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield is now the only way to ease the mounting development pressure on all other communities across the district.

VAG has not shown much appetite for making the case for an alternative to village extensions. If VAG doesn’t do it no one else will do it for them!

VAG has lost the argument on housing numbers. The SE Plan, SHMA, SHMA “critical friend review” and now the SHMA validation can’t all be wrong. It was, in my opinion, always an unwinnable argument.

However, from Arun’s perspective it has probably been a welcome diversion from the thorny matter of strategic locations and the process by which they are being decided.

Arun will now move forward as quickly as possible with its Local Plan and strategic allocations at BE&W and Angmering because it is in danger of losing control of its planning and needs to reassert control. Anything will do now, as long as it’s quick!

VAG must, of course, make the case that development at BE&W is unsustainable (which it is!) but that argument alone may not be enough to win. The further the process goes the harder it will be to achieve change. The Planning Inspectorate is unlikely to be sympathetic to anything other than a truly compelling argument.

So, does VAG have a strategy to persuade councillors to change their minds before they agree the strategic allocations in early 2014?

Or will VAG accept what Arun are about to serve up and hope that the Planning Inspectorate will see sense further down the line? In the current climate that is pretty unlikely!

Censorship by the Villages Action Group (VAG)

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

 

The following post was recently submitted to the VAG web site and was censored (not published).

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious to all, except Mr Herbert, that there is a serious shortage of housing in West Sussex. What we need is a grown up debate about the merits of new settlements versus village extensions. Instead, what we get is NIMBY Nick!   

Nick Herbert can always be relied upon to oppose housing whenever or wherever there is a development proposal. He will never say where housing should be located – he just trots around his constituency saying, not here, not here, not here etc. He is an irresponsible MP. I have seen more responsible children. 

When brownfield land at the disused Ford Airfield was under the spotlight for development (a new settlement as an alternative to village extensions) Mr Herbert probably did more than anyone in the Arun district to “steer” development away from Ford Airfield and instead towards the villages of Barnham, Eastergate, Westergate and Angmering.   

He was fully aware that merging the three historic villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate and a smaller development at Angmering were the most likely alternatives when he campaigned against a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield.  

He had an election to win at the time! There were cheap populist votes to be had!“ 

It is important that VAG supporters know that what they read is being carefully controlled by their leaders.

What else has been censored?

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. 

New settlement versus village extensions


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. 

The main objective with village extensions is that they 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 sewage network.

Onsite energy production becomes more viable with larger settlements. Combined heat and power becomes possible – thereby reducing pressure on existing infrastructure.

Road layouts in a new settlement do not evolve over years – they are carefully planned from the outset. For instance, a new link road from the A259, 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.

By providing a new and additional route to/from Bognor Regis traffic would be “fanned out” over three routes to/from the A27 rather than two – effectively spreading 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 new settlement can offer infrastructure contributions on a far greater scale than a number of smaller developments peppered across the district. How many houses at Ford would it take to fund an Arundel Bypass in full? Shouldn’t our democratically elected representatives find out?

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 of Arun in such a poor condition?