Planning controls could be reduced

Criticisms have been made of a bid to reduce planning controls on Butlin’s in Bognor Regis.

The company’s seafront complex is the proposed location of the town’s first local development order.

This would see the leisure firm freed from the red tape of submitting planning applications to Arun District Council for a host of minor developments it wants to carry out.

But that relaxation of the usual planning rules for the 21.6ha site was attacked by Felpham West councillor Elaine Stainton.

She told the council’s development control committee: “I don’t agree with this given the history of Butlin’s and the problems we have had with the site because it is surrounded by housing.

“There have been an awful lot of problems with noise for the residents of Felpham. I think this is going to be an easy way for Butlin’s to ‘drip drip’ development and put what they like on there.

“I hope the residents of Sea Road in Felpham wlll be consulted about this because they will be the people most affected by it.”

Fellow committee member Philippa Bower (Rustington East) said: “I don’t think there’s any huge problem with planning applications from Butlin’s.

“We are not being overwhelmed by them. I’m more than happy to keep the situation as it is now.”

But Jacqui Maconachie (Aldwick West) welcomed the possible order.

“This is a sensible move. There are adequate safeguards in place,” she said. “It’s a question of how those safeguards are going to be enforced and if they highlight when Butlin’s have to apply for permission or not.”

The committee decisively agreed at last Wednesday’s meeting to consult on the possible local development order.

Council senior planning officer Cian Cronin said: “The order will reduce the number of applications for small scale developments within Butlin’s. It will enable Butlin’s to operate more smoothly and cut down the number of applications we will receive.”

The consultation was likely to involve the Bognor Regis Observer, a presentation in Bognor Regis Town Hall and an online survey, he said. Its results will be reported back to the committee in the autumn for a decision about approving the order.

If it goes ahead, it will be the first order of its kind in the Arun district. The introduction of the orders in principle was permitted by Arun’s senior councillors in June 2009 after the government introduced them.

A local development order will only apply to work not seen from outside the site.