A CRUCIAL verdict on the use of Pagham land for housing is due soon.
Arun District Council’s director of place, Karl Roberts, told a packed public meeting he expected government inspector Mark Dakeyne’s report on the local plan land use blueprint within two months.
“We are waiting for the inspector of the local plan to produce his report about where he wants to see development. We anticipate receiving his report in June or July. The intention is the local plan will be put before councillors to approve in July.
“If that is the case, that will then become our adopted plan and will be given considerable weight when we consider individual planning applications,” he said.
For the four sites in Pagham for which planning applications for 1,200 homes had been submitted, he said the council was seeking further advice.
A recent European court ruling was being studied by the council’s consultants to find out how it affected the Pagham sites, particularly south of Summer Lane, because of the range of protections given to Pagham Harbour local nature reserve.
He said: “We have taken the view to seek further advice. Once we have received that, we will advise our members about how it affects these applications.
“The applications could come to the development control committee in July or at a later date. I don’t know but it will certainly not be until we get that advice.”
Last Friday’s meeting was organised by the Pagham and Aldwick Greenfields Movement (Pagam) as part of its campaign against the housing. Some 200 people filled West Meads Community Centre to quiz a panel of five speakers and raise their concerns about the housing’s impact.
Alan Pivett, PAGAM’s vice chairman, said traffic concerns were the biggest worry of residents who filled in a questionnaire at the group’s coffee mornings. About 60-70 per cent rated it as their number one worry if the housing went ahead. The next biggest concern was the effect on doctors’ surgeries in the area.
The largest sites of Pagham North, Pagham South and West of Bersted would generate 3,700 homes. A further 130 in Pagham had already been agreed. Another two sites could also be developed to produce a total of 4,645 homes to mean another 11,000-plus residents with about 5,500 cars between them.
He said: “We all know the biggest problem we have at the moment is people getting annoyed over traffic. Instead of a 15-20 minute journey to Chichester, that is now taking up to an hour. I believe that will only get worse.”
Pagham parish councillor Phil Higson said piecemeal work to the A27 roundabouts at Chichester would fail to tackle the extra traffic.
“What is needed is an end-to-end study of the A27 Chichester bypass. Everybody here knows improving just those two roundabouts will not make any difference.
“It will be eons before any upgrade takes place. Common sense tells you this side of Bognor Regis is not the place to put all this housing to increase the volume of traffic.”