Faith needs to be restored in Birdham Parish Council if residents are to stand any chance of fending off future developments in the village, it has been claimed.
More than 40 residents, many angry at possible plans to build more homes in the village, filled Birdham Village Hall on January 16 for the latest parish council meeting.
They applauded the idea of forming a new working party with the council to tackle planning issues.
Cllr Patrick Bolton: “In my opinion the public has lost faith in the process, and in particular site selection process. We as councillors need to be more engaging.
“Therefore I would like to propose the formation of a working group. I feel strongly that doing this would help to get the public on side. This working partnership would be between the council, the residents and public representatives.”
Cllr Stephen Crossley: “I would just like to say that I am very much in support of this. I do feel people have lost confidence in the council.”
Councillors agreed on the principle of forming a working party, made up of parish councillors, district councillors, residents and other members of the community. Some residents argued it should be down to the parish council to lead the group.
One resident said: “I commend Cllrs Crossley and Bolton. We’ve got to grab the bull by the horns and get on with it. Let’s march on.”
A presentation to build 15 affordable homes off Crooked Lane has already been given to residents and Seaward Properties have written to other residents about their intention to build homes at Church Lane.
No formal plans have been submitted for either site. A presentation on Crooked Lane was given to residents in October last year.
The affordable homes planned for Crooked Lane are on an exception site – a piece of land that is outside the Settlement Policy Area where homes are usually built. This has caused confusion among residents who are eager to find out about future developments in the village.
The affordable housing would be available to people who already have a connection with the village, such as having grown up in the area or having a real need to work in the area.
Many residents contended the need for affordable housing, but one resident said: “There are about 42 family units that are needed for housing. “They might be 18 or 19-years-old. Just because they don’t own a house that is worth half a million pounds, it doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to live here.”