Concerns about flooding and an exchange of words over who should and shouldn’t vote were part of a colourful discussion into outline plans for 46 homes in Shripney.
The application, for land off Shripney Road, was looked at by Arun District Council’s development control committee on Wednesday (June 3) – and will be again later once members have come up with a clear reason for its refusal.
The discussion was something of a roller-coaster from the start with grave concerns raised about flooding in the area.
Cllr David Edwards (Con, Felpham East) said the flooding history information supplied in a report to the council was ‘fundamentally incorrect’.
While the report said there were ‘no historic records of flooding’, Cllr Edwards said: “The road’s been closed due to flooding in June 2014, again in February 2016, and latterly in December 2019 – and that’s without really having to do much research.”
He was backed up by June Hamilton (Ind, Pagham), who added June 2012 to that list.
Cllr Edwards also raised road safety issues, pointing out that this development would mean there were eight entrance/exit roads leading onto the A29 in the space of 400 yards.
The discussion was side-tracked when Cllr Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel & Walberton) asked why Cllr Gill Yeates (Lib Dem, Bersted) had not declared that she owned property nearby and was also the director of a company directly opposite the application site.
While Cllr Yeates had declared a personal interest because she lives in Shripney Lane, Cllr Roberts felt that was nowhere near enough.
He said: “I think it’s absolutely outrageous that some one says ‘I have a personal interest because I live in Shripney’ but doesn’t mention that her business property directly overlooks five metres away, she owns four properties on the lane directly opposite.
“While it might be up to the individual to make the decision on whether they want to disclose an interest or not, I think we need to be truthful and more open and transparent.”
Cllr Yeates, who also serves on Bersted Parish Council, accused Cllr Roberts of ‘trying to bring me into some kind of disrepute here’.
She told the meeting that she had distanced herself from the application in her parish capacity, adding: “The fact that Bersted Parish Council didn’t even raise any points about it clearly shows that, for goodness sake.”
It is up to each councillor to declare their own interests.
While the meeting moved, members were left in no doubt that Cllr Roberts could take the matter further if he felt Cllr Yeates had breached the council’s code of conduct.
Once the roller-coaster moved back on track, a decision needed to be made about the application.
Officers recommended approval but the committee vote 9-6 to refuse.
That’s where the next bump in the road was hit.
While Cllr Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) reeled off a list of policies he felt the plans breached, officers needed a succinct reason to refuse – especially as they had repeatedly warned about the cost of losing if the plans were taken to an appeal.
The application was deferred so those reasons could be worked out and drawn up, to be presented at a future meeting.
By Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter