Hundreds of homes are met with anger

Nick Herbert outside a council meeting about the local plan
Nick Herbert outside a council meeting about the local plan

OUTRAGED villagers were told legal action was been considered in the wake of two planning decisions for hundreds of new homes.

It was standing room only as more than 80 residents attended Tuesday’s meeting of Aldingbourne Parish Council to voice their anger and dismay at the appeal decisions which will see 347 new homes for the Westergate area.

“We believe it has been a flawed process and the parish council are seeking legal advice”

Martin Beaton

Parish council chairman Martin Beaton said: “Like many of you in this room, I too am angry about these decisions.

“We believe it has been a flawed process and the parish council are seeking legal advice from our barrister on the extent to which we can appeal this decision.”

John Charles, one of Arun District Council’s ward members for the area, said “I can tell you that this is being looked into and Arun are considering taking action.

“Both of these planning applications were refused by Arun on good grounds and I believe they should not have gone through on appeal.”

Fears over how the

area’s infrastructure would cope with the added homes were voiced.

Mavis Black, 64, of Westergate, said: “We are a rural village area. We are not a town or a city.

“Our roads and services are not made for this influx of cars and people.

“We already have the threat of 3,000 homes and now these 300-plus. We have suffered enough, we can’t take any more homes.”

Tim Menton, 43, of Eastergate, said he was worried the house building would destroy the area’s character.

“We have an identity here and I am sorry to say these homes will destroy that. They will destroy people’s lives,” he said.

Concerns were also raised about the area’s flooding problems.

“They will be made worse by the extra housing. How can they not be? The flooding problem needs to be acknowledged by the planning inspectors,” said Harry Timpson, 71, of Aldingbourne.

Mike Turner, the chairman of the Village Action Group (VAG), urged all those present to voice their anger.

He said: “Our last hope is to write to the MP Nick Herbert, to Eric Pickles, the secretary of state, to the prime minister David Cameron and to the planning inspectors.

“We have to make clear to them the strength of feeling. It is our only chance.”

As reported, both planning applications were approved on appeal by planning inspectors, yet both run contrary to the emerging Aldingbourne neighbourhood plan which is providing for 30 additional houses.

MP Nick Herbert has written to Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, to complain about the planning inspectorate’s decision.

He is urging revised planning guidance promised by the government is issued as soon as possible and renewed his call to prevent speculative developments which undermine draft neighbourhood plans.

Mr Herbert said: “The success of neighbourhood planning rests on the fact that communities can see that it really can make a difference in their communities and that we ask people to take responsibility, true responsibility, for decisions.

“This is not a meaningless or phoney consultation, it really does put people in charge.”

But the MP said the process needed to be made simpler.

“This is a really great policy. It is localism in action. In a short space of time we’ve made a huge difference to these communities by putting them in charge, and I want to see it flourish further,” said Mr Herbert.

The largest site put forward by Land Fund will see up to 268 dwellings, including 30 per cent affordable housing, built on land at Nyton Road and Northfields Lane, Westergate, and land off Fontwell Avenue, Eastergate. The scheme will include 60 senior living units.

Some 79 homes are set to be built on land to the west of Westergate Street by Hallam Land Management.