Last-ditch call to reject Eastergate homes plan

CAMPAIGNERS have urged councillors to take the last chance to reject plans for thousands of new homes around Eastergate.

The Villages Action Group has written to Arun District Council members ahead of their full council meeting next week.

It has said they should reject the draft version of the council’s local plan due to be finally approved at Wednesday’s meeting (September 10).

The alternative, it has warned, is the plan could be found unsound at its examination in public next year led by a planning inspector.

Mike Turner, the group’s chairman, says in the letter: “This draft plan is not a sound or sustainable plan.

“There are too many fundamental flaws for it to pass examination in public.

“The evidence base is lacking in its justification for the strategic housing requirement proposed and for the A29 re-alignment.

“The draft plan fails to address the issues that are important to residents – such as flooding, lack of sewerage capacity, the need for better-paid jobs and encouragement to small business, lack of school places, difficulty in getting health appointments and lack of buses.”

One of the principal policies in the draft plan, which will guide development in the district for the next 15 years, is for 2,000 homes in the Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate area.

This housing will fund a Woodgate bypass on the A29 with a bridge over the railway line to replace the level crossing.

Mr Turner described the A29 changes as an ‘expensive folly’.

It was not too late to reject them, he told councillors.

They should be dropped in favour of supporting the A27 upgrade, a smaller housing scheme at Ford as proposed by its parish council and an upgraded Woodgate level crossing.

“Coupled with small-scale housing in other locations and starter help to small businesses, this could deliver the improvements needed in the district without placing too heavy a burden on our services and causing more, unsustainable out-commuting.”

The long-awaited plan for the proposed A29 re-alignment was published by Arun in the summer.

It showed a single carriageway road from Shripney through the 2,000-home site and residential areas in Eastergate to join the existing A29 in Fontwell Avenue.

A number of roundabouts would connect it to the villages.

A recent business study published by Arun showed the A29 re-alignment was not a priority for the district’s businesses.

The past two years, while the plan has been prepared, has seen the action group challenge Arun on a number of subjects within it.

These have included the level of housing need and questioning the sustainability of providing housing in an area with few jobs and poor public transport.

It has also queried the council’s commitment to dealing with flooding and sewerage problems and chronic pressure on health services and schools.