Pagham housing: Major development of 280 homes agreed - but second scheme deferred

A large number of people in the public gallery turned up to watch Arun's development control commitee approve new homes for Pagham
A large number of people in the public gallery turned up to watch Arun's development control commitee approve new homes for Pagham

Controversial plans for 280 homes in Pagham have been given the go-ahead on the back of a separate development granted approval last month.

Developer Taylor Wimpey’s outline application for land north of Sefter Road was approved by six votes to four at Arun District Councils development control committee today (Tuesday November 13).

Concerns were raised about the ability of the roads and sewage network to cope with the extra homes, but other councillors argued the site had been allocated in Arun’s recently adopted local plan.

Anger at approval

After the meeting Alan Pivett, from Pagham and Aldwick Greenfields Action Movement, said the decision would be greeted by anger and asked what the point of turning up had been if the local plan ‘is god’.

He suggested Pagham had become the district’s sacrificial lamb when it came to housing development and raised serious concerns about existing and future air quality issues.

Three applications in Pagham were due to be discussed at last month’s committee meeting, but only one, for 400 homes south of Summer Lane, was approved.

During a discussion on a second scheme for 300 dwellings north of Hook Lane the meeting was suspended by the chairman.

‘Misplaced attempt at levity’

Today’s reconvened meeting picked up at that point, with members then deferring the Hook Lane application to receive an independent assessment of the proposed site access.

At the start of the meeting committee chairman Ricky Bower apologised for his previous comments about applause from the public gallery as a ‘misplaced attempt at levity’.

But he described how the committee had to act in a semi-judicial capacity and be guided by legally defensible planning law.

He said: “The committee has a job to do in considering the remaining applications before us.”

Hook Lane site

The 300 homes will now be debated at a future meeting.

Dawn Hall (Con, Pagham) said there had been two more accidents on Pagham Road, with one leaving the village ‘absolutely gridlocked’ first thing in the morning.

Both Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) and Pat Dillon (Con, Pevensey) asked if the sewage system could cope with the new homes.

Officers explained that in negotiation with the developer Southern Water would provide a solution.

Education provision was raised by Elaine Stainton (Con, Felpham West), who felt they could not expect children to go from Pagham to Felpham.

To cope with the demand for extra secondary school places in the Arun district up to 2031, the council’s infrastructure delivery plan includes a new secondary school at Ford and expansion of Felpham Community College.

The Regis School is closer to Pagham, but since it is an academy any decision on expansion there does not fall within the county council’s remit.

Supporting deferral Colin Oliver-Redgate (Con, Ferring) said he was reminded of the phrase ‘it’ll be all right on the night’, adding: “We have got to sort this out properly.”

This motion was approved by nine votes to two.

Sefter Road plans

Lillian Richardson, from Aldwick Parish Council, argued that all three applications were ‘inextricably linked’ and would have a large cumulative negative effect on the area.

She suggested the roads would become even more congested and highlighted concerns about the safety of cyclists and effect of the new homes on the natural environment.

Other speakers raised concerns about flooding and the robustness of traffic data used to assess the application.

Ashvin Patel (Con, Pagham) suggested ‘tabletop studies’ did not give a true picture of traffic using Pagham Road, especially lorries, while Francis Oppler (LDem, Orchard) described the local plan as the ‘elephant in the room’.

He said: “You have been told there are no real grounds to refuse it but for me the local plan is wrong and I’m proud to have voted against it.”

Planning officers said the committee had to demonstrate clear reasons for going against the local plan particularly as it was adopted so recently.

But Mrs Hall said the committee was there to ensure ‘everything is correct and not causing inconvenience to the new residents’.

She added: “It’s making Pagham a nightmare for people living in the village, which is 1,200 years old. We are ruining it and we need to make sure everything is right.”

Alex Anderson, from Taylor Wimpey, described how they aimed to assimilate their developments into existing communities, while the scheme would deliver a replacement scout hut and include a circular walk on the site’s perimeter, affordable housing and land for an ambulance community response post.

Mr Oliver-Redgate suggested the Government’s requirement for new housing was acting as a straitjacket for the council, while Philippa Bower (Con, Rustington West) argued if they went against the local plan ‘we will rubbish the entire system’.

Meanwhile Mr Bower (Con, East Preston) said they were aware some parts of the district are not as well served as others in terms of infrastructure, but the only way to address this was through developer contributions and this meant housebuilding.

He explained how Arun had a shortfall of 1,250 homes to find above sites already identified, adding: “It’s not a burden borne just by Pagham but by the entire district.”

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