Campaigners’ anger about decisions to allow housing

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HOUSING campaigners have reacted with anger to the approval of the 347 new homes.

The Villages Action Group said the judgments by two planning inspectors concerned sites residents and parish councillors had considered unsuitable for such development.

It is a clear consequence of their incompetence in managing their yearly house-building targets

Mike Turner

Its chairman, Mike Turner, said: “This is another fine example of the government’s ‘localism’ agenda being treated with contempt by developers and planning inspectors alike.

“We all thought that the new much-touted national planning policy framework and the Localism Bill meant that the power was getting back into people’s hands.

“This is patently untrue and the framework and the Localism Bill are both shams. The government bears responsibility for not putting a moratorium on predatory developers while a local plan is unadopted.”

Arun District Council is going through the process of getting its local plan approved to guide land use.

Mr Turner said Arun also had a leading role in allowing the two developers to have their appeals granted.

He claimed the council failed in its primary planning duty of ensuring a five-year land supply for future housing.

“It is a clear consequence of their incompetence in managing their yearly house-building targets and leaving themselves open to challenge on housing numbers from predatory developers,” he said.

“This led to Arun’s complete capitulation on their five-year housing land supply during the Hallam Land/Hook Lane inquiry and made the defence case immediately very weak.”

He claimed this would also make Arun’s local plan an easy target for developers when it was examined in public this summer.

“Will someone at Arun take responsibility for this mess and resign?” he said.

“Let us have some accountability and some honesty from those members who have not capably represented the district’s residents...”

Neil Crowther, an Arun planning officer, said: “The council’s position in defending these appeals was guided by the most up-to-date evidence, planning legislation and legal advice.

“Data is being regularly updated and the position adopted following the Nyton Road appeal rightly reflected this.

“In planning law, the council cannot use the figures within the emerging local plan to form a basis of housing land supply until such time as it is adopted.

“Until then, and in accordance with legislation, the local authority will find it extremely difficult to demonstrate an adequate supply. However, it is important to note that this is only one element in the determination of appeals.”

Cllr Ricky Bower, who leads the council’s planning service. said the local plan had been delayed by its opponents seeking lower housing numbers.

“This has led to unelected developers deciding the house building programme for the Arun district and not democratically elected councillors,” he said.