MP to hold a meeting of opponents of Eastergate housing after council ‘ignores’ guidance

MP Nick Herbert is holding a summit of protestors to discuss their next move in opposing thousands of homes for Barnham.

Mr Herbert, the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, is convening a meeting of parish council chairman, district councillors and the Villages Action Group to continue their fight against the housing.

Mr Herbert will stage the session before Arun District Council holds a crucial meeting on April 30 which could include the 2,000 homes for Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate in its draft local plan.

He said Arun’s decision last week to go ahead with allocating farmland for the ‘Garden City’-style housing ignored the latest national planning guidelines.

“I am concerned that local councillors have failed to take into account new planning guidance.

“These hard-won changes were designed to help local authorities like Arun, who face infrastructure and delivery constraints to development and who need to get a plan in place with public support.

“I fear that an obsession with funding a contentious new A29 link road is driving this agenda and that serious objections to new housing are being swept aside.

“We face the creation of an unsustainable new town on green field land, merging villages, while brownfield sites are ignored,” said Mr Herbert.

He urged Arun’s members to reverse what he called ‘this damaging decision’ at their meeting on April 30.

Mr Herbert has campaigned hard in government to secure the new planning guidance in the light of the widespread opposition in his constituency to the district council’s proposal.

The guidance enables councils to produce local plans, which are land use blueprints for 15 years, without having to identify strategic sites such as the one around Barnham and Eastergate.

It also enables infrastructure constraints, such as the road networks, to be considered.

The guidance was published on March 6 with a statement from the planning minister, Nick Boles, that the government was ‘committed to ensuring that countryside and environmental protections continue to be safeguarded’.

It says councils do not have to identify specific sites for the final 11-15 years of their plans and encourages brownfield development.