Residents’ local plan concerns ‘should not be ignored like Grenfell Tower warnings’

Residents packed Barnham Community Centre for the CPRE meeting to discuss concerns over Arun's local plan SUS-170626-100658001
Residents packed Barnham Community Centre for the CPRE meeting to discuss concerns over Arun's local plan SUS-170626-100658001
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Residents should use the Grenfell Tower tragedy to ensure their grave concerns over Arun’s local plan are not ignored.

A packed public meeting saw residents from Pagham to Littlehampton air their views over the district council’s housing blueprint on Friday.

Kia Trainor, director of CPRE Sussex, at a meeting discussing concerns over Arun's local plan SUS-170626-100709001

Kia Trainor, director of CPRE Sussex, at a meeting discussing concerns over Arun's local plan SUS-170626-100709001

They fear the plan’s annual target of delivering 1,000 homes a year up until 2031 will cause congestion chaos and destroy countryside.

Hugh Coster, of Bognor Regis Civic Society, said the Grenfell fire, believed to have killed at least 79 people, should be a turning point in how councils interacted with constituents.

He said: “I hesitate to mention this but Grenfell Tower was a terrible tragedy. It highlighted what we all know is a major problem. Nobody listens. “Councils don’t listen, governments don’t listen, they go their own sweet way.

“I’m afraid we have to use this and say this is the time now to realise they need to be listening to the people on the ground and what we have to say. We are the people who know.”

The meeting was called by the Sussex branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Its director, Kia Trainor, called for a ‘more coordinated approach’ to fight the plan.

A consultation on the latest draft of the plan closed earlier this month, with the issue to be discussed at a series of public hearings before a government inspector later this year.

The room was filled with anger over the consultation, with some suggesting the process was so complex it required specialist legal knowledge to understand.

CPRE said a request to Arun to delay the consultation was denied.

Alan Pivett, of the Pagham and Aldwick Greenfields Action Movement, told the capacity crowd at Barnham Community Centre: “We call upon the parish councils to get together and the sooner the better.

“There is a lot of dithering going on. It is like watching Rome burn.”

Laurie Ward, chairman of the Villages Action Group, said groups needed to come together to fund legal experts to fight the plan.

Littlehampton resident Terry Ellis suggested crowdfunding would be effective in taking the pressure off parish council precepts.

But Chris Allington, chairman of Eastergate Parish Council, said there was ‘no money out there’, arguing £200,000 would be needed to fund legal advice.

Those interested in helping CPRE fight the local plan should email info@cpresussex.org.uk or call 01825 890975.