Aldwick residents plea - ‘protect our area’

A pioneering people’s meeting in Aldwick told councillors: ‘Protect our area’.

The public consultation was the first in the Arun district to take place under the coalition government’s emerging planning policies.

It was intended to enable residents to speak out about how much housing they wanted to see in the area.

The message was clear – none.

Aldwick Preservation Society committee member Valerie Smith said: “It seems to me everything is being driven by developers. How far does this go? When does it stop allowing them to come in and make plenty of money?

“I feel enough is enough. Look at the flooding and the traffic problems that are happening right on our boundary. These are the things we have to take on board.

“They are going to impact on all our lives. Every time we want to go anywhere we will be sitting in streams of traffic and all the facilities are going to be over-subscribed.

“It’s just too much for peoples’ quality of lives. We need to get jobs in place before we start talking about more housing.”

Mick Nichols, of West Meads Residents’ Association, said: “We are looking to you as councillors to protect our area and not to over-build on it. Our original developer said no more development should take place in our area. It was designed for that purpose.”

Ruth Partridge, the vice-chairman of Willowhale Farm Residents’ Association, spoke of its members’ fears of more building on the estate.

Aldwick East district councillor Gillian Brown, who is also Arun District Council’s leader, said: “We have not got room in Aldwick for any large scale developments.”

Cllr Rick Bower, who heads Arun’s planning services, said: “Nil housing is an option as far as Aldwick is concerned. If you say nil, we will have to go away and combine that with what other parishes are going to say.”

Last Thursday’s meeting at Willowhale Community Centre attracted some 150 members of the public. It was the start of a process in which the number of permitted homes in the district between 2011-2028 will be decided.

Cllr Mrs Brown told those present it marked the beginning of a major change in the way development was permitted.

“We have now got the opportunity to choose our own housing numbers and decide how many we need rather than having them imposed on us by Whitehall,” she said.

Arun’s assistant director of planning housing and strategy, Karl Roberts, said the views given by those at the meeting and in the consultation forms distributed would be collated and given to the Joint Western Arun Area Committee of various councils to decide the amount of housing.

Its view would be taken into account by the council next July.

The outcome would be considered by the Planning Inspectorate before it took effect.

He said: “Once we have taken a view about how much housing is wanted then we can look at where it can be located.”