I have to tell Mr Faulkner (letters, last week) that for so long as there is downright deprivation in the district, chronic need for homes and better-paid jobs and a duty to create a brighter outlook for rising generations, then making better use of the wasteland at Ford Airfield is a planning imperative.
He takes a myopic view of social and economic issues suggesting how we meet the need for homes and jobs in the district and what use is to be made of a disused airfield is somehow a matter simply for those who can see Ford Airfield from their back gate.
It will disappoint David Cameron and Eric Pickles, though they can hardly be surprised, to find the government’s call to ‘localism’ is taken by some to mean ‘parochialism’, to mean we need look, think and feel no further than our own personal and immediate needs – in short, a charter for NIMBYs.
Whatever may become of those hopes for localism, the planning process should ensure objectivity, evidence of need and broad consideration prevails over narrow self-interest and it will continue to provide a safeguard against both unscrupulous developers and anarchy amongst ourselves.
Leading district councillors are inclined to flit between parochialism and district-wide thinking as political expediency dictates.
However, in bidding for an Enterprise Zone, which makes better use of land in Bognor Regis, they recognise the area of interest extends far beyond district, let alone parish, boundaries. The bid must have regard to national objectives, benefit an economy from the coast to Croydon and every resident within that area has a legitimate interest.
Thus are our horizons set and not by the view from any particular backyard.
It was a pleasure to present the FEH concept for a new settlement and transport hub on Ford Airfield (fordenterprisehub.com) to a progressive group, facing up to the crisis in housing, in almost the same terms it was first presented to parish, district and county councillors on October 11, 2004.
Social and economic needs are now even more acute and worsening.
In an unremarkable landscape, the disused airfield still sits astride an under-utilised public transport network in a district which does not pull its weight and the Ford site must be turned to meeting need, present and future.