THOUSANDS of new homes around Pagham and North Bersted have been backed by a planning inspector.
Mark Dakeyne announced his verdict on Arun District Council’s local plan this week – and he has backed the controversial proposals for the large-scale housing estates in the areas.
His decision, which was made public yesterday, is a significant step to ensuring the schemes of 1,200 homes in Pagham and 2,500 in North Bersted are built. They also include up to 3,000 homes around Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate.
Arun district councillors will debate his report at their full meeting on July 18. The council’s Conservative majority will be expected to endorse Mr Dakeyne’s findings and trigger a six-week consultation period for legal or procedural matters to be raised.
The end of that period, and the debate about any matters raised, will lead to the local plan being adopted by councillors.
Lib Dem Cllr Francis Oppler (Orchard) said the decision would hit the Bognor Regis area like an earthquake.
“The inspector has given the green light to Arun to go ahead with the local plan, which will enable excess of 1,000 homes a year to be built in the district.
“This amount of housing is going to be like an earthquake on this area, especially with more than 3,500 houses between North Bersted and Pagham, because of the effect the thousands of residents who live in them will have on the roads, the schools and the health service.
“The housing will also devastate the wildlife habitats that have been there for thousands of years.”
He called on residents to continue campaigning until the final decisions to approve the housing were made. He blamed Arun’s Conservative majority for their failure to approve the local plan years ago before the government’s demands for more housing grew.
Alan Pivett, the chairman of Pagham and Aldwick Greenfields Movement (Pagam), said: “We will be looking to find out our best way forward while continuing our objections to all these applications.
“We need to see what the options are in order to take this decision on board.”
Mr Dakeyne headed the inquiry between September 19 and 28 last year. He heard representations from council officers and developers and opponents of the housing.
He has spent the eight months since then considering the evidence and also other representations. He has also sought further information from the district council.
The local plan will act as the land use blueprint for the Arun district until 2031 also sets aside land to be kept as open space, for the creation of jobs among other uses and to regenerate and protect town and village centres.
The plan determines 20,000 homes should be built from 2011-2031 to provide a range of housing types, such as affordable homes.
Cllr John Charles, Arun’s cabinet member for planning, said: “A huge amount of work has gone into creating the Arun local plan.
“I am delighted at the comments from the inspector. It is indeed an achievement and, although there are likely to be challenges along the way, we have a solid plan to guide us and clear targets to aim for.”