Councillors agree £40k fighting fund to contest homes appeal

Arun Civic Centre ENGSUS00120130227103532
Arun Civic Centre ENGSUS00120130227103532

A £40,000 budget to help Arun District Council fight a planning appeal was approved last week amid warnings from opposition councillors it could be ‘throwing’ money away.

Arun’s development control committee rejected plans for 300 homes in Climping in August – despite the site being earmarked for housing in the council’s new local plan.

Full council approved the budget on Wednesday (March 7), covering the likely cost of legal representation at an inquiry later this year, as well as hiring experts to build up its case.

Liberal Democrats councillor Francis Oppler said: “Those councillors voted against your own local plan and now it is going to appeal, which we will almost certainly lose, we will have thrown away £40,000 of taxpayers’ money. I am just lost for words really.”

Despite Mulgrave pledging £3.4million of road improvements, councillors argued the plans for land west of Church Lane and south of Horsemere Green Lane did not do enough to address safety issues at the A259 Oystercatcher junction.

Speaking at full council, development control committee chairman Ricky Bower said a study since the rejection had identified the junction as a ‘significant safety hazard’.

He said: “What is it to be? Planning appeals against decisions we have taken because we are defending the rights of the residents to have acceptable development in their area, or are we just to allow developers to walk all over the district?”

Costs of defending the appeal could rise if Arun loses, with Mulgrave already submitting an application for costs. Conservative councillor Paul Dendle asked whether barristers had indicated if the council was likely to win.

Chief executive Nigel Lynn said: “Yes, we have taken counsel advice. I don’t think it is in the best interests of the council to give the answer to that question.”

Speaking after, Mr Dendle said the council should save taxpayers’ money if there was not a reasonable chance of success.