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Threat of coastline erosion

Lotte Pegler


Housing developments could be putting Bognor Regis at an even higher risk of coastal erosion.


This was a concern outlined in an interim report published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.


It warned that house building targets set by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Ministers may be leading to councils allowing ‘inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and erosion.’


At a full Arun District Council meeting last week, Cllr Tony Dixon said: “Selsey to Pagham beaches, spit and tidal inlet is identified in the top 10 potential coastal change management areas (CCMAs), but is not designated in the Arun Local Plan.


“Do you agree with me that the council should take urgent steps to designate Pagham as a coastal change management area?


“If so, could this be achieved through a new development planning document?”


At the meeting last Wednesday, cabinet member for planning, Cllr Martin Lury, said: “In terms of the first report by the select committee, I can confirm that the only strategic allocation in the Local Plan acknowledged to be at risk from coastal erosion or flooding is the West Bank, Littlehampton. However, as you will be aware, the provision of new flood defences to serve both the proposed and existing communities are proposed.


“Of more concern is the potential risk from coastal erosion or flooding to existing communities. The council over the coming months and years will have to consider how best to tackle these challenges having regard to the level of resources available.


“In this regard, the report published by Natural England into potential CCMAs is helpful and officers will consider it carefully, although it should be noted that they had no input into it and were not aware of it until its publication.


“It is important to recognise that the suggested CCMA covers the Pagham Beach area, and not the development sites further inland.


“Indeed as you will be aware, significant amounts of the existing residential development in the Pagham Beach area is actually built on the remnants of a former spit.


“The controlled breach cited in the Natural England report is a community-led proposal, and has yet to be implemented as the spit naturally breached in 2016.


“The shoreline management plan for this area is currently being reviewed and the relevant outcomes of this review will be brought before members in due course.


“Any consideration of the need to designate this area as CCMA should follow, and not proceed, this review.


“If, in due course, a CCMA is designated then this would be reflected in any subsequent Local Plan and its policies. However, these policies would in the main impact upon existing communities rather than any future development.


“It may be helpful to raise the matter with the minister but with the objective of seeking funding to support the necessary research and analysis into the dynamic situation along the coast at Pagham.


Analysing national coastal erosion risk mapping data from the Environmental Agency, uncovered how Bognor Regis is at high risk, predicting that 131ft of Bognor Regis coastline is likely to be lost over the next 20 years.

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