Eco-towns must not subvert local planning process

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has expressed concern that proposals for an Eco-town at Ford will subvert the normal planning process.


Last July the Government launched proposals for new Eco-towns of at least 5-20,000 homes to increase their overall house building target to 3 million homes by 2020.  Bids were invited for the towns and two schemes have been submitted by developers for the Ford area.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is currently considering over 50 submissions nationally and an announcement is expected early this year.

Arun District Council has already expressed its opposition to the proposals, and the full Council is due to discuss the issue tomorrow (9 January).  Ford was one of the locations which was not recommended as suitable for development by the Council's Local Development Framework Sub-Committee in August last year.

The new towns would be in addition to the housing numbers announced in the South East Regional Plan.  The Council states that, together with the increase in housing numbers in Arun already demanded under the Plan, even the smallest Eco-town at Ford - 5,000 houses - would almost double Arun's initial housing target, to 16,000.

Ford village currently lies within the Arundel & South Downs constituency.

Nick Herbert commented: "We certainly need more homes, but this is not the way to provide them.

"Planning procedures are designed to examine issues properly and take account of local concerns.  They should not be subverted in this way.  We are in danger of having new towns imposed on West Sussex by Ministerial fiat, regardless of the environmental, infrastructure and local concerns.

"I have grave reservations about building a new town on the Arun flood plain.  I cannot see that such a huge development would be remotely eco-friendly.  I also believe that we have a serious infrastructure deficit locally and that development on this scale cannot be contemplated before issues such as the A27, our local hospitals, schools and water shortages in dry summers are addressed.

"I will lend my strong support to the Council in its determination to see that normal planning processes are observed so that these issues can be properly addressed and the views of local communities are taken into account."


Alexander BlackPlanning