IT’S bizarre that Arun District Council has returned – even after the flooding which would have given sane folks pause – to their appalling plan to build more than 2,000 unrequired houses between Barnham and Eastergate.
Months ago Arun thought – or said it thought, in its draft local plan – that green gaps between villages were a good thing, precious open stretches were to be preserved, along with the ‘integrity’ of villages.
That same ‘thinking’ turns out now to mean something like: ‘We value our precious landscape with its crucial gaps, including your bit, which we hope to build 2,000 houses on, so that we can fund some road building’ – road building which neither West Sussex nor national government considers worth paying for.
The unnecessary road is ‘needed’ because at the moment, the story goes, Bognor’s burgeoning vitality is stifled by all those delays at the Woodgate crossing. As one or two councillors have known since the light fell on them, the town will thrive tremendously once the crossing is removed.
So what we now have is the pointless re-presenting of an awful proposal for destructively unnecessary house building between Barnham and Eastergate to fund a piece of destructively unnecessary road.
This grim illustration of local authority thinking reveals how out of its depth and out of touch Arun is, politically and intellectually.
Instead of this fantasy-stuff about housing, Arun might try some practical and down-to-earth ‘localism’.
But how much talking to locals do Arun and its councillors and officers do?
In presenting their unpleasant scheme afresh, Arun invoke – again – the silly phrase Garden City.
The concept is out-of-date and done with, far from making Arun sound modish, it shows they’ve not kept up.
And have they not come across any of the writers who maintain that, counting the empty stuff, there is enough housing to accommodate us all, if it were used?
On this particular planning issue Arun flounder incoherently.
They fail to argue a case. They don’t use evidence for what they allege. They’re dismissive of opponents. They’re a model, indeed, of how not to do it.
As for their grasp of what villages and their local environments in this part of Sussex historically and organically consist of, it’s hardly likely any councillor would have been voted in had he or she boasted while campaigning that in office they would work towards the ruination of two local villages (for a start).
But that’s evidently what they’re there for.
History might eventually forgive them, but it isn’t likely.
Elm Grove South