Funds agreed to contest public inquiry into Barnham homes

A public inquiry is to be held into Arun District Council’s decision to refuse plans for up to 200 homes close to Barnham’s railway station.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:57 pm

The application, from Gleeson Strategic Land, was turned down in February and an eight-day inquiry is scheduled to be held in September after an appeal was launched.

During a meeting of the corporate policy and performance committee on Thursday (June 17), members recommended that £50,000 be set aside to defend the appeal.

If the appeal is lost and costs awarded, the council could face another bill for tens of thousands of pounds.

Barnham development application site
Barnham development application site

The application for land south of the station and west of Church Lane, was not considered by the council’s planning committee but was instead decided by officers under delegated authority.

Ten reasons were given for the refusal, including the proposed location, highways issues, the impact on high quality trees, concerns around foul drainage, flooding and air quality, a lack of affordable housing and the impact on the Barnham Church Lane Conservation Area.

Karl Roberts, director of place, told the meeting that he had stepped in as case officer for the application because of a shortage of staff.

As for the cost of fighting the appeal, Mr  Roberts said some 15,000 would be needed to appoint an advocate for the council, with the rest being spent on expert witnesses in relation to the various matter which led to the refusal.

He added: “It may well be that some of those matters fall away and therefore we don’t end up having to spend as much as we have currently estimated.

“But we have to take a worst case scenario for budgeting purposes. We need to have that budget in order to bring in the relevant specialists.”

The recommendation will be put to the full council for approval. The council is next scheduled to meet on July 14.