In 2005 the Joint Downland Area Committee asked the district council to consider making use of wasteland at Ford airfield for the creation of a new settlement in making plans to meet housing need and economic growth. This was studiously ignored until some years later the eco-towns debate forced matters, whereupon Arun’s cabinet launched a campaign against one option shown in its own draft, provided accommodation and officer support to one group and asked the council to appoint a select committee to examine that proposal and no other option.
Here we are in 2012, no nearer a plan, and that same cabinet now proposes a new settlement of its own creation, about the same size when the villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Aldingbourne are absorbed, a mile and a half west of that brownfield land, building on greenfields and served by a road which has nowhere else to go!
Should the latter proposal get any further in the planning process then at the very least objectors are entitled to the same facilities as were given to objectors to the Ford proposal: officer support, accommodation for meetings and scrutiny by a select committee. This could benefit from not having to serve a second purpose, that of show trial on ‘big government’, and from being charged to consider all options for development policy on equal terms, a duty the council has yet to fulfil through its LDF sub-committee.