Residents fight developer as latest homes inquiry begins

Proposed site for 100 new homes in Yapton, behind St Mary's Church and south of Ford Lane
Proposed site for 100 new homes in Yapton, behind St Mary's Church and south of Ford Lane

Villagers fighting a protracted battle to save a green space from housing told an inquiry the site was the ‘wrong place’ for housing.

A three-day hearing into plans for up to 100 homes on land south of Ford Lane began on Tuesday (December 12), with Arun District Council and Yapton residents against Keith Langmead Limited’s scheme.

Arun said the developer had failed to provide enough information to assess the plans, an allegation refuted as the inquiry began.

Residents’ objections focused on the fact their neighbourhood plan resisted the site’s development – but Arun did not pursue the point amid the district facing a severe housing shortage.

Speaking on day one of the inquiry at Bognor Town Hall, Yapton’s Elaine Cordingley said: “To the council it may just be another field. To the landowner it is an investment but to the village it is their boundary.”

Langmead lost a High Court appeal over refusal of planning permission eight months ago but resubmitted plans which are now subject of the inquiry.

It followed the Secretary of State overturning an inspector’s recommendation to approve plans, upholding policies in the Yapton Neighbourhood Plan.

Vicky Newman, chairman of the parish council’s planning committee said the decision was still relevant and maintained the scheme was in the ‘wrong place’ outside the village boundary.

But barrister Graeme Keen, representing Langmead, said a more recent appeal over plans for Burndell Road saw an inspector say there was a ‘critical imperative’ to get the housing market moving because of a ‘severe’ shortage.

Arun’s case focuses on an ‘unwillingness to provide updated information’ to assess the scheme, its barrister Felicity Thomas argued. It did not, however, oppose the principle of development, she said.

Mr Keen said: “None of the reasons raised by Arun District Council - highways, trees, noise or infrastructure - warrant refusal.”