Support for retention of Pagham’s Second World War infantry post at development site

Illustrative layout for 280 homes off Sefter Road, Pagham
Illustrative layout for 280 homes off Sefter Road, Pagham

A decision on new Pagham housing has been delayed until a developer commits to keeping an infantry section post from the Second World War.

Taylor Wimpey’s outline application for 280 homes on land north of Sefter Road was given the go-ahead by Arun District Council’s development control committee back in November 2018.

However the development was brought back to the committee earlier this week so members could consider its impact on the infantry section post and in light of the draft Pagham neighbourhood plan.

Officers recommended a condition be added requiring the developer to carry out a condition survey of the ISP and then either recommend its retention and repair or removal.

However several committee members felt this did not go far enough and a motion was put forward by Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) to defer the application so officers could secure a commitment from the developers to keep the ISP.

The motion was passed on a casting vote by committee chairman Jamie Bennett (LDem, Rustington West), a decision followed by Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) muttering ‘idiot’.

After the meeting Cllr Bennett said: “It’s unfortunate that some members have felt justified to express their frustration with the democratic process by name calling. We shall continue to represent our constituents in relation to these often complicated planning matters and do the best that we can for Arun.

“I am sure now Cllr Bower is aware he will feel embarrassed and I look forward to his apology.”

Cllr Bower has been approached for comment.

The motion also asked officers to work with Pagham on the production of its neighbourhood plan and for them to produce a report setting out any new material considerations arising since the November meeting.

Neil Crowther, head of planning at the council, argued they were not valid reasons to defer the application, adding: “I have no idea what I’m supposed to be bringing back to committee.”

Earlier he had suggested a change to the conditions or an informative would be more appropriate as a reserved matters application for the site would have to come back to committee.

But Martin Lury (LDem, Bersted) said: “The three part condition for me is far too weak and I think there should be no threat of removal. It definitely should be repaired and retained.”

Cllr Coster added: “I seriously think there should be a proper effort to preserve this and to ensure it is preserved.

“I would like to see the officers going back to the developers to explore the ways in which it can be preserved.”

He also said he wanted to see officers working with Pagham to establish how its neighbourhood plan can be integrated with the district-wide local plan.

Mr Crowther said Arun had offered to support and engage with them with the ‘ball in the parish council’s court’.

Earlier in the meeting Taylor Wimpey’s agent had told the committee the infantry section post was in an area currently earmarked as open space although this could change.

But they were happy with the officer’s condition where they would assess if it could feasibly be retained.

Meanwhile she suggested ‘no material weight’ could be given to the draft Pagham neighbourhood plan in determining the application.

David Huntley (Ind, Pagham) described the development as ‘one of many assaults’ on the village, highlighted how the site turns into a lake due to flooding at times during the winter months and felt the extra traffic would be ‘unmitigatable’.

He added: “It’s a profoundly unpopular development.”

Terence Chapman (Con, East Preston) said: “A detailed application will come back to this committee so I really do not understand, and maybe I’m being a bit thick, I do not understand why we are now getting into realms of discussions that are totally outside of the proposals at this committee.”

Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel and Walberton) suggested a decision to defer the application could lead to a situation where costs were awarded against the council at an appeal.

John Charles (Con, Barnham) said: “You are voting for silly things that are going to cost us a lot of money.”

He added: “There’s no need to defer anything. It’s all in the conditions and other requirements and that’s all we can ask for.”