Two decisive votes saw the plans for 2,000 homes in Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate make progress.
Arun District Council’s local plan sub-committee voted 10-4 on March 27 in favour of the site - plus one in Angmering and another in Littlehampton - to be included in the forthcoming local plan for strategic housing.
Arun head of planning policy Simon Meecham said: “The sites recommended tonight stand up to scrutiny. Barnham has two high schools, a railway station and a number of other services.
“It is a good location for additional growth.”
The same margin of votes also defeated an amendment from Cllr John Charles (C, Barnham) for alternative sites to be considered.
These were 500 homes south of Fontwell, 1,000 for Ford and 400-500 in east Pagham.
They had been put forward by planning officers after comments from councillors but with a warning the detailed studies needed to consider them would take a year and cost £100,000.
Cllr Dawn Hall (C, Pagham) said hundreds of extra homes in Pagham would overload its already stretched roads.
The sensitive area around the harbour also limited the possible development space.
“The only place in Pagham you could possibly put 400-500 homes is on Hook Lane and the council successfully defended an appeal against housing there,” she said.
Cllr Ann Smee (C, Bersted) said farmland between Bognor Regis and Chichester had to protected from development because it was the only top grade land left in the area.
Bersted and Felpham had already accommodated more than 1,500 homes. “There is a lot of space in and around the Five Villages. It’s time to share the pain,” she said.
The agreed sites were those backed before councillors halted the local plan preparations in January.
The proposals will be debated by the full council on April 30 before the plan’s draft version is published.
See the Bognor Regis Observer on April 3 for the full report.