A NEW planning expert has been appointed to decide the future of Pagham and North Bersted.
Planning inspector Mark Dakeyne will take charge of the remaining enquiry into plans for thousands of homes in the two areas.
Mr Dakeyne was chosen by the government’s Planning Inspectorate to head the final examinations into Arun District Council’s draft local plan land use blueprint. This sets out the allocation of land until 2031.
He succeeds the previous inspector Jonathan Bore, who has become unavailable because of other work commitments. The crucial sessions begin in just under a month and will determine if the allocation of land by Arun for some 4,000 homes at three sites in Pagham and one in North Bersted – officially called west of Bersted – can go ahead.
Housing campaigners in Pagham have pledged to ensure Mr Dakeyne is well aware of the opposition to the proposals to build on farmland in Hook Lane, Sefter Road and south of Summer Lane.
Pagham and Aldwick Greenfields Action Movement (PAGAM) vice-chairman Alan Pivett said: “We think it’s important to be at the enquiry so the inspector can see what people in Pagham think about the plans.
“We are going to be circulating the relevant days of the enquiry and encouraging as many people as possible to go along. It could be difficult because some will be at work but we want people to be there if possible.”
Of particular interest to the group is the session on the objectively assessed need for housing.
This work by planning consultants has set Arun’s need at 919 homes a year. But Mr Pivett said the system was flawed.
“Whether those homes are built or not is up to developer and not Arun. The council could give approval for all those properties and only half get built. The government will then complain not enough homes have been built and increase the pressure for more.”
The timetable for the enquiry agreed by Mr Dakeyne. This will see the hearing take place at the Arun Civic Centre in Littlehampton from September 19-21 and September 26-29.
Mr Dakeyne told Arun when he was appointed: “I would envisage that hearings would take place on Tuesday-Thursday during both weeks although there is the possibility of sitting on Friday, September 29, if necessary.
“I understand the council consider that 6-7 days will allow sufficient time for the resumed hearings.”
Among the crucial days for the Bognor Regis is September 26 when the strategic housing allocations are considered.
Matters which Mr Dalkeyne has highlighted include the constraints on housing caused by the environmental status of Pagham Harbour, specific needs for schools, sustainable transport links and the phasing of land for jobs in the west of Bersted scheme.
It will be the turn of the thousands of homes envisaged for Barnham/Eastergate/Westergate to come under the microscope on September 27 On September 20, Arun’s policies for economic growth and sites for jobs will be examined.