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Council seeks court case against Arun

Legal action is being taken by Pagham Parish Council about plans for hundreds of homes.


The council is seeking a judicial review into Arun District Council’s approval of 400 dwellings south of Summer Lane.


Arun backed the scheme by Hanbury (PM) Ltd two months ago, despite 789 letters of objection from residents and protests from Pagham, North Mundham and Oving parish councils and the RSPB.


District councillors agreed by two votes the proposal should go ahead subject to strict conditions.


But the parish council’s clerk, Nicola Swann, told its members on Tuesday the paperwork to pursue a judicial review had been lodged with the High Court.


“We now wait for the judge to decide if we have a sufficiently strong case to go to the next part of the process,” she said.


It is unknown how long it will take for a decision to be announced. If the judge backs the parish council, the review will take place in the High Court, possibly this summer.


In a letter of claim to Arun, the parish’s planning consultant, Paul Collins, says he believes four grounds exist on which the approval should be overturned.


The first is Arun’s alleged failure to grapple with two requirements in its local plan land use document for a masterplan for the development and to have any adequate regard to the parish council’s representations.


“There is no masterplan endorsed by the council…against which the application for a portion of the land within the allocations could have been assessed,” he said. “And, since the application was made in outline with all matters reserved except for access, no means by which the council could properly satisfy itself that the proposals would result in a development which complied with strategic policy H SP2a.”


The second ground was an alleged misdirection on two respects to councillors on the impact of the housing on heritage assets.


Mr Collins claims Arun’s conservation officer failed to pass on the full opinion of Historic England about the potential impact of the housing on Grade I-listed St Thomas a’Becket Church to the south.


Ground number three for a potential judicial review, according to Mr Collins, concerns Arun’s supposed failure to consider alternatives and satisfy itself all adverse impacts on the wildlife in the Pagham Harbour special protection area can be mitigated.


“The habitats assessment undertaken by the council on October 18, 2018, found the likelihood of significant effects, either alone or in combination with other developments, in relation to disturbance of birds, supporting habitat and water pollution,” says Mr Collins.


“At no point, however, does the council move to consider alternative sites which would avoid the impact…”


Mr Collins says the final ground amounts to a breach of legitimate expectation around setting up an advisory group, including parish councillors, to discuss the Summer Lane application and two other sizeable housing plans for Pagham.


The group failed to meet in the form envisaged before the plans were agreed, he adds.


Arun declined to comment about the legal action.


But Karl Roberts, its director of place, stated in reply to Mr Collins it had received his letter of claim.


“This is receiving due and proper consideration by the council and will be responded to separately,” he said.


*A previous, confidential, meeting of Pagham Parish Council showed its members agreed to budget £55,000 to spend on housing court cases by hiring specialist barristers and other advisers.

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