Aldwick residents over-ruled in battle against houses

Leading members of West Meads Residents' Association meet MP Nick Gibbs outside the derelict church
Leading members of West Meads Residents' Association meet MP Nick Gibbs outside the derelict church

A FORMER church in Aldwick is to be replaced by housing.

A planning inspector has over-ruled the protests of residents to allow a terrace of ten houses to be built on the site of the derelict St Michael’s and All Angels.

The scheme by the Christ for the Nations UK charity has been bitterly opposed by the members of West Meads Residents’ Association.

They have since enlisted the support of their MP, Nick Gibb, to find out why the notice of the inspector’s decision has gone missing.

Ray Collins, the association’s chairman said: “West Meads residents have been devastated by the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol overturning Arun District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build ten houses on the site of our West Meads Church.

“As none of the 400-plus residents who wrote to the inspectorate have received any notification of the decision by the inspectorate, we have now called on our local MP to investigate.”

The scheme is the first terrace on the West Meads estate and probably the biggest housing development since it was built more than 40 years ago.

The church closed in November 2006. The residents’ fight against the housing on the site was backed by Arun District Council which rejected the application last March.

But Martin Whitehead, of the Planning Inspectorate, said the scheme should go ahead.

He said it would not have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

“I have taken into consideration the concerns expressed in the large number of letters that have been submitted from mainly local residents,” his decision states.

“With regard to the effect on living conditions, the terrace would be low enough and a sufficient distance away from the adjacent bungalows to ensure there would be no unacceptable harm due to overshadowing or loss of privacy.

“I have not been provided with any substantive evidence the church should be retained for future use or that this would be likely to happen if this appeal should fail.”

He also dismissed the residents’ concerns that the number of parking places to be provided, which was 12, would be too little.

The number is fewer than the 16 expected by the county council’s standards, but Mr Whitehead said the adjacent car park and bus stop would mean the maximum number would not be needed.