Bersted set for more homes as council land supply struggles continue

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Arun District Council’s continued inability to identify enough land for housebuilding saw Bersted lumbered with more new homes against residents’ wishes (Wednesday September 7).

The village’s neighbourhood plan – crafted by residents so they could have a say in its housing future – opposes development outside the built-up area.

Landform's proposed development, in addition to the 50 homes approved on Wednesday

Landform's proposed development, in addition to the 50 homes approved on Wednesday

But Arun’s inability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, as part of its own local plan, superseded local opinion.

The sticky situation left the development control committee with little option but to permit the plans, for 50 homes on land west of New Barn Lane.

Councillors granted approval by a margin of eight votes to six, with several expressing severe concerns.

Councillor Paul Wells said: “It’s just another case of developers coming along, saying ‘here’s a bit of greenfield land, we’ll just slap up another 50 houses’ and leave it to the residents to deal with.

“I’m not putting up with it any more as a local representative.”

Arun earlier this year green-lighted a development by Landform of 90 homes on adjoining land.

Bersted Parish Council objected to the latest scheme, joined by numerous residents in their concern over the cumulative impact of both developments on traffic levels.

Councillors, including Mr Wells and Bersted’s Jacky Pendleton, were also worried about historic flooding.

Again the committee appeared hamstrung, with no objections raised by West Sussex County Council Highways or the Environment Agency.

Committee chairman Jacqui Maconachie reminded councillors they could not refuse permission unless they had firm evidence to contradict such bodies.

Mr Wells said: “For the Environment Agency to say it’s not a flood risk, they’re talking nonsense, I’m sorry.

“Perhaps the (financial) contribution for the fire service is to buy a new RIB for that area, not that they’re going to get a lot for their £1,145.”

Mrs Maconachie replied: “We may have to come back to you to put that into planning reasons.”

Pauline Roberts, representing landowners the Church Commissioners for England, said the project was a ‘sustainable development’, which would deliver 30 per cent affordable housing.

She said it responded to the district’s need for two to three-bedroom homes.

Financial contributions of more than £300,000 for primary, secondary and sixth form education would be made, along with £12,052 for libraries and £1,145 for the fire service.

After the item was approved, Landford was granted permission for a revised access to its site, off New Barn Lane.

Access between the two sites would need to be shared – but the Church Commissioners objected to the application.

Legal discussions are ongoing between the two parties.

The argument over the council’s land supply has been used in several recent cases, including 400 homes at Fontwell and Yapton.

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