400 villagers attend MP's meeting on housing plans
More than 400 residents of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate attended a public meeting called by Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert on Friday evening (28 September) to make their views known on housing proposals.
The MP called the meeting at Fontwell Park Racecourse after Arun District Council published a Draft Plan reinstating the highest housing target for the District and proposing a new ‘Strategic Housing' development of over 2,000 homes in the Six Villages area.
Also attending the meeting were Arun District Councillors John Charles, Jean Goud, and Dougal Maconachie, County Councillor Derek Whittington, and representatives of the local Parish Councils.
Arun District Council's consultation closed on 10 September following the publication of the Draft Plan for 2013 to 2028.
Mr Herbert opened the meeting by expressing his concern about the Council's proposed increase to 565 houses a year over 15 years, amounting to nearly 8,500 homes.
Arun had originally proposed 400 houses a year, or 6,000 in total. This would already mean 30 houses in Aldingbourne, 100 in Barnham, 100 in Eastergate and 50 in Walberton.
Mr Herbert said that, while there was a need for affordable housing in the villages, new build had to be sustainable, and villages should have control over development through their new neighbourhood plans.
The MP expressed concern that there was inadequate infrastructure to support excessive development, with school places, sewerage, flooding and traffic already a problem in the Six Villages area.
He reiterated his view that the integrity of the villages should be maintained, and that a development which joined up the villages and created a new suburbia should be resisted.
He rejected the claim that more housing would itself lead to local economic growth, saying that a focus on transport infrastructure such as the need to upgrade the A27 and local rail signalling was the priority.
Local residents at the meeting spoke out strongly against Arun's plans, with particular concern expressed about the inadequacy of infrastructure and the risk to the character of local villages and the countryside.
People also felt that the Council had failed to justify the housing numbers with evidence of need.
In a straw poll at the end, only one person voted for Arun's higher housing target. There was some support for the lower target, but the majority of residents voted against any more housing until the inadequacy in local infrastructure had been addressed.
Following the meeting, Nick Herbert said: "There is clearly a great deal of local concern about Arun's housing proposals, and a strong feeling that there are already problems with sewerage, flooding and congested roads which have to be sorted out and which would be exacerbated by excessive development.
"The meeting gave local people an opportunity to hear about what is being proposed and to make their views known. I hope that Arun District Council will take on board these genuine concerns and adopt more sustainable proposals, supported by proper evidence.
"There is a need for affordable local housing but this must be planned with the villages, not imposed by the Council with arbitrary numbers and without addressing the infrastructure problems."
Notes for Editors
1. The Arun District Council Draft Plan can be viewed here:
2. Nick Herbert MP's submission to Arun District Council can be viewed here: