Plea not to turn Aldingbourne area villages into sacrificial lamb

Better infrastructure and not more homes are needed, say Aldingbourne’s residents.

Inhabitants of Aldingbourne and the surrounding villages spoke out saying the area’s existing services would be unable to cope with large housing developments.

They used Arun District Council’s drop-in session at the Aldingbourne Community Sports Centre about its draft local plan to speak out against proposals for up to 2,000 homes.

The council wants to use the large development to pay the multi-million cost of an A29 road bridge to replace the bottleneck of the Woodgate level crossing.

But Westergate mother-of-two Emma Woolnough said: “They are trying to turn five separate villages into one mass area, and double the population.

“What’s made me cross is I asked what other areas they were looking at, and he said that they’re not.

“Why can’t they spread the houses over the area? He didn’t have an answer.

“There are very strong local opinions. We seem to be the sacrificial lamb for Bognor’s development,” said the 40-year-old.

She said she was also concerned about the pressure the added homes would put on local infrastructure, in particular the Woodgate crossing.

“Obviously something needs to be done. I have to make sure I time leaving to avoid getting stuck,” she added.

The drop-in session at the Olivers Meadow centre was one of 19 consultations taking place as Arun District seeks to produce its local plan land use blueprint for 2013-2028.

The plan will set out the preferred areas for developments and those to be protected. One of those earmarked for the largest expansion is Aldingbourne, Barnham and Eastergate. Concerns about this provoked hundreds of people to attend last Thursday’s session.

David Smith, who moved to Eastergate 26-years-ago, said the idea of building a bridge over the Woodgate crossing had been a discussion point for several years.

“When we moved here it was then part of a proposal, and it then raised its head again a few years ago. Building the houses is the only way they can see of funding it,” he said. “If only they would lift the current railway barrier a bit early, or lower it a bit later it would be an improvement.

“But because of health and safety I don’t believe they will.”

Elizabeth Arman, 63, said she feared more housing would heighten the risk of flooding in the area, after newly built homes were affected by June’s severe rain.

“If we build the houses we will get more flooding. It’s absolutely horrendous. They never think about the infrastructure,” she said.

“It shows where the floodplains are. Some those houses did get flooded. There should never have been building here.

“The population is not feasible. They are building on floodplains in Chichester and Bognor. When it happened last time we couldn’t get anywhere for three days,” she added.

Resident Roy Campbell said he feared the effect that building a large number of new homes would have in the future. “They’d be building on prime farm land, which we will need sooner rather than later. They should be looking at refurbishment, not more development.

“We wanted to live in a village but now they are trying to make into a town,” he said.

Further consultation sessions are taking place for the next month. The next in the western half of the district takes place next Tuesday from 3pm-7pm at Barnham Parish Hall on Yapton Road.