Clark steps in over 400-home West Sussex scheme

Communities secretary Greg Clark is considering whether to call in proposals for a 400-home project in West Sussex amidst concerns that the scheme would be contrary to a neighbourhood plan.

Communities secretary Greg Clark
Communities secretary Greg Clark

Outline plans were submitted to Arun District Council to deliver up to 400 homes alongside other facilities, including non-residential floorspace, light industrial uses, landscaping, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and car parking in Fontwell, West Sussex.

The council’s development control committee resolved to grant permission for the project last month.

Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, then wrote to housing minister Brandon Lewis urging the government to call in the application.

He said in his letter to Lewis: "I believe that this is an issue of national significance which requires your attention because the decision to grant planning approval is contrary to a ‘made’ neighbourhood plan."

Herbert said the proposed development crosses the parish of Eastergate where he said the joint Barnham and Eastergate Neighbourhood Plan was approved last year.

He said it also sits in the parish of Walberton, adding that the Walberton, Binsted and Fontwell Neighbourhood Plan is now in its final consultation stage.

He said: "The government has made great effort to promote neighbourhood plans and localism. It clearly runs completely contrary to national policy to undermine a made neighbourhood plan by allowing a large speculative development on land that has not formally been allocated by the district council as a strategic site."

The DCLG has now written to Arun District Council to direct that it does not grant permission without "specific authorisation".

The letter said: "This direction is issued to enable [the secretary of state] to consider whether he should direct under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that the application should be referred to him for determination."

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