TWO VOTES saw outline plans for 400 homes in Pagham approved.
The narrow margin of 7-5, with two abstentions, was enough to give the go- ahead for housing south of Summer Lane after a heated debate which lasted for nearly three hours.
The location stretches to 400m of the boundary of Pagham Harbour local nature reserve. But appeals from councillors and residents to take account of the special nature of the location were not enough to overcome the fact the 23 hectares were included in Arun District Council’s local plan in July for development.
Cllr Lilian Richardson, Aldwick Parish Council chairman, told Arun’s development control committee Pagham Road would be unable to cope with extra traffic generated from the proposed homes.
“Pagham Road is narrow with bends and ditches and the traffic is brought to a halt by the presence of cyclists who have no alternative but to hug the verges and try to remain safe,” she said.
Pagham Parish Council member Cllr Peter Atkins said the housing would take away some of the country’s best and most versatile farmland.
It would also damage the area’s £2.5m a year tourism economy based on its rural ambience.
“No thought has been given to the impact on the local economy when this ambience is damaged by building houses all over the views when you enter the site,” he said.
Resident Michael Hampton said the road network would be unable to cope with thousands of extra vehicles.
But Paul Fone, planning agent for developer Hanbury (PM) Ltd, said more housing was desperately needed.
“The Prime Minister has identified the country’s broken housing market as one of the greatest barriers to progress today.
“Your (planning) officers have worked tirelessly with us to ensure the application is suitable, sustainable and deliverable.”
The site had been thoroughly assessed when the local plan was agreed, he said.
Hanbury has joined with the developers of two other large-scale housing sites in Pagham to provide millions of pounds towards improvements in roads, schools, health and library services among others. These will be secured by Arun by legal agreements, Wednesday’s meeting heard.
Officials from Highways England and West Sussex County Council explained the reasoning for their chosen projects.
But many councillors were unconvinced. Cllr Dawn Hall (C, Pagham) said: “There is nothing whatsoever on offer to improve Pagham Road. This is not going to help the residents of Pagham who need to get out of Pagham.The money is all going to junctions which obviously do need improvements.
“But people who are coming to live in these developments, if they are approved, and the residents who live there will need to get to the A27.”
Cllr Jacky Pendleton (C, Middleton) said: “We need the housing, I get that, but we need the infrastructure first. We need to get the timing right and I don’t believe that now is the time.”