Villages handed a ‘suicide pass’ of 3,000 homes

Eastergate chairman Chris Allington addressing Monday night's meeting in Eastergate Village Hall
Eastergate chairman Chris Allington addressing Monday night's meeting in Eastergate Village Hall

The green light for 3,000 new homes is expected as early as next month, a meeting heard.

Residents gathered on Monday night to discuss proposals for a huge new village between Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate on greenfields earmarked for a development in Arun District Council’s local plan.

The conceptual masterplan showing where the new homes (in yellow) will go and the A29 realigned

The conceptual masterplan showing where the new homes (in yellow) will go and the A29 realigned

The meeting was organised jointly by Eastergate and Barnham parish councils.

Eastergate chairman Chris Allington said that having lost the six-year battle to stop the homes, they must now fight for the developer money needed for vital infrastructure upgrades.

Cllr Allington said: “Arun’s local plan has gone to the Secretary of State and we’re expecting it, and the 3,000 homes, to be given the green light in the next month.”

He said, aside from this new development, there was already approval for 900 extra homes across Barnham and Eastergate, but ‘zero’ developer money from them had come to the parishes.

He said: “Of the 900 houses, in 106 (developer money) we think Arun has raised is around £4m, not just for itself, but for primary education, libraries, health care. But nothing for this community.

“We were told it would be £250 a house. That’s been buried. That’s £225,000, in my view, this community has been short changed.”

He likened the situation the parish councils were now in to, ‘in rugby terms, being handed a suicide pass’ of having to accept the homes.

But he argued that instead of ‘lying down and accepting localism was dead’ the councils would be engaging with the developers to make sure it gets the funding needed.

A Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate advisory group will press the house-builders and the district council to ensure issues like flooding, drainage, roads capacity, parking health and schools provision for the future population are met.

The masterplan for the homes also sees the A29 linking the A27 to Bognor re-routed to the east of the current road, through the middle of the 3,000- home site.

Pauline Roberts from planning consultants Lichfields, which is advising the southern consortium of land owners including the Church Commissioners for England, Hanbury Properties, and CALA Homes, said the new route would ‘significantly relieve’ the pressure on the local transport network.

She said the character of the three villages would be maintained, the development would provide a new community hub, primary school, health centre, library and sports pitches.

She said: “The pressure from government (to build homes) has been increasing every year...so the need for housing isn’t waning, it’s really significant, and that’s party why we have strategic allocation which can help to meet some of that need in this area.

She added: “This site can work, it can fit into the existing fabric.”

She said a planning application would be prepared this autumn or winter and likely to be submitted in the spring in 2019.

However, residents in the audience raised a number of concerns.

One woman said it would mean 6,000 extra cars hitting the Fontwell A27 roundabout which was ‘just about functioning now’.

Cllr Allington said the proposals in the local plan to make the A29/A27 junction signalised ‘wouldn’t work’, especially with 400 new homes approved at the nearby Dandara site.

One man in the audience said that with the sea levels set to rise by a metre and the 3,000 homes built on fields which soak up much of the rain water, it would cause flooding to the existing homes.

He asked: “Will you listen to ten people, 100 people, 10,000 people?

“How many people do you have to listen to before this message gets across that this is a serious area for flooding?

Barnham and Eastergate parish council want to merge to pool resources, improve their financial position and, cllr Allington said, to be in a better place to jointly fight for developer money and services.

A consultation is currently taking place with every resident in the parishes sent a letter, to be comppleted by April 11.