Frightened Pagham residents living close to an eroding seafront face another winter of uncertainty after a ‘devastating’ new delay to a community scheme.
Arun District Council won’t now consider a planning application, which many say could prevent homes from being lost, until August, meaning even if approved the work won’t start until next year at the earliest.
And in another blow, a reduction in funding could leave the project with a massive £500,000 shortfall.
The Pagham Flood Defence Steering Group’s application seeks to manually cut through a large shingle spit to eventually reverse significant tidal scouring of the beach which now sees homes within a few metres of the sea.
“I’m shocked and disappointed after receiving this morning’s email from Arun’s planning department,” Ray Radmall, Pagham Parish Council chairman said on Tuesday. “It’s killed us.
“This indicates a significant delay which will mean that urgent work to regulate the harbour mouth will not be possible before winter.
“That would put our community in an unnecessarily frightening situation.”
The letter from Arun said changes to the application were needed in respect of a marked area in which the contractor would operate, Mr Radmall said.
Consequently a new consultation period has been called, pushing any decision back to the end of August.
Even if approved and work started in September, the 12- week project would run until November when protected winter birds come to nest on the spit, making it unviable.
And in another blow, Mr Radmall said: “Local people have raised in excess of £300,000 but the Environment Agency’s cost/benefit assessment reappraisal has reduced the amount of money were had been expecting to supplement it.
“The net result is that we shall have a probable shortfall of around £500,000.”
He said corporate funds that had been pledged would only materialise once planning had been approved, making the delay even more damaging. “Who knows what the winter has in store for us, we could get six months of storms. How am I going to tell the vulnerable people living ten, 12 metres from the sea there’s been another delay?”
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