1 August 2018
The Arun Local Plan was adopted earlier this month, to the dismay of many across the district. With its key aim of economic growth and job creation, it realistically cannot meet its stated desire for a sustainable vision.
Local Green activists have read all 300 pages and have found countless examples of what is commonly called ‘double-speak’ - where governments say what they know voters want to hear before doing the opposite. In this case, Arun District Council often says two contradictory things at once, presumably hoping readers will only notice the first statement of intent.
For example, the Planners wish to ‘protect our much valued landscape, including the coastal plains, the setting of Arundel, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and the land between existing settlements’; however, the plan proceeds to set out how all of these areas are to be destroyed with huge new areas of development and large new roads.
‘The potential impacts of climate change need to be taken in to account…this will include locating major developments away from areas of high flood risk’, continues the Plan, before informing us that all new developments will be situated on areas of flood risk. In the case of the Littlehampton West Bank area, this will require costly flood defences; and in all other areas – Pagham, Eastergate and Angmering, flooding is a serious concern, as the planners themselves admit.
This alarming trend continues, as areas of particular scenic value – Pagham Harbour and Arundel - are to be especially valued and protected. Pagham is to be ‘enhanced’ with 1,200 houses; whilst the precious views of and from Arundel that the Plan wishes to protect, are to be scarred with a huge concrete bypass running right across the famous watermeadows, causing visual and noise pollution for the future.
Examples of pure fantasy continue as the Plan assures us of ‘sustainable transport’ measures – walking and cycling are mentioned but there is no specific commitment to public transport and with two major new roads across the district, it ensures that people, including thousands of new residents, will be able to drive unimpeded around the area. In what sense is this strategy going to help the Council’s stated ambition to ‘identify carbon reduction measures including sustainable travel…’? It is accepted that climate change is the number one problem for the world moving ahead, and still Arun District Planners are not taking it seriously enough.
Eastergate and Barnham, far from having their unique character respected as claimed, will be turned into a town, with a huge area of housing estates sprawling along the new A29 causing worse traffic problems for existing residents of the villages, while the centre of Barnham is in danger of becoming one huge car park.
Co-ordinator of Bognor Greens, Carol Birch said, ‘The plans for Pagham fly in the face of common sense; I am disappointed that wildlife and habitats are threatened, and I am concerned that building on farmland will threaten our food security. Anyone who knows the Pagham road knows it cannot take any more traffic’. Co-ordinator for Arundel and Littlehampton, Isabel Thurston, said, ‘Sadly, instead of enhancing the coastal plain area and its special qualities, this plan will result in an overcrowded and unpleasant place to live and even then there will not be genuinely affordable housing for local people.’