Parishes tell MPs of anger on homes

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FRUSTRATED parishes have united to make their discontent with large-scale housing for the Five Villages heard.

The chairmen of Aldingbourne, Barnham and Eastergate parish councils have written to MP for Arundel and the South Downs Nick Herbert to emphasise their anger at what they claim is an ‘inconsistency of approach to target-setting between Arun District Council’s local plan and our own neighbourhood plans’.

The letter, signed by Chris Blows on behalf of Aldingbourne, David Philips for Barnham, and Eastergate’s Chris Allington, asks for Mr Herbert to make their dissatisfaction known to Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government.

The letter states: “With Arun district’s local plan being late, our parishes are under immense pressure from developers who appear to be making planning applications for inappropriate housing developments and only securing permission post district refusal through the appeal process. It appears to us that these permissions are then being ‘banked’ and no houses are actually being built.”

The trio say they want a local plan, and have supported the need for housing as long as it meets local needs.

They say garden city developments, like the one included in the local plan, which is currently been reworked, would be unsuitable.

They state: “As parishes we are working up neighbourhood plans that will identify the type and scale of development appropriate for each parish.

“This is being undertaken by volunteers who are putting a lot of time, thought and expertise into it, engaging communities, schools, businesses. As volunteers we have persuaded our residents that housing growth is appropriate despite the inevitable opposing views.”

The letter continued: “Neighbourhood planning should encourage partnership working between parishes and districts.

“In truth it is damaging the very fabric of these important tiers of local government.

“We also run the risk of damaging the trust of local people who have been allowed by government, and encouraged by parish councils, to engage in the neighbourhood planning process.

“To have their contribution disregarded will be damaging at resident, parish and district levels.”

In response to concerns raised over the last year by residents about the excessive housing numbers demanded of the Arun local plan, Mr Herbert has been working to raise these issues in government.

He has welcomed this letter as evidence which could help change the directions given by the planning minister.