Funding to see if Littlehampton West Bank development “is a runner or not”
Plans for 1,000 housing units at the site in Littlehampton have been moving forward for years, with the area identified as a strategic allotment in the local plan.
At a meeting of the company policy and performance committee, members agreed that the money could be spent, although some felt it would be a waste.
Karl Roberts, place manager, said: “The strategic allocation of the West Bank in the local plan has not been delivered so far and there are significant challenges regarding its delivery.
“Therefore, an alternative action plan has been proposed. “
This action plan includes the commissioning of a detailed master plan and a comprehensive viability assessment as well as a study of potential housing sites along the river and towards Clymping Beach.
A working group comprising landowners and parish counselors will also be set up to move the project forward and consult with the wider community and stakeholders.
But it will all cost, so the committee was asked to allow £ 50,000 to be spent to get things started, should a public fundraiser fail.
The figure was originally £ 100,000, but Mr Roberts said he had received pledges from landowners totaling £ 50,000 in contributions to cover the cost of the works.
Plans for the site have dragged on for so long, running into so many problems, that some felt that new homes would not and could not be built there.
Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Beach) said: “I have considerable doubt about the wisdom of spending this kind of money.
“I understand that this is an allocation in our Local Plan.
“I thought it was quite fragile at first, but everything that has happened since – the flooding that happened with the breaking through of the sea barriers at Clymping and the flooding extending not only to the A259 but actually through the culvert on the other side of the road, threatening the trailer park there – makes this land potentially flood-prone.
This was a point of view shared by Tony Dixon (Ind, Aldwick East) who said the council was “going flat out” and “trying to keep it alive rather than admitting it was not viable”.
Jacky Pendleton (Con, Middleton-on-Sea) recognized the need to know once and for all whether development was or was not viable.
She said: “If it’s not possible, either financially or realistically, then we know it has to be canceled. It is the end.
“We’ve been playing with this for several years and now is the time to say ‘is he a runner or not’?
“I think putting £ 50,000 at risk is worth it.”
She added: “It might be brilliant, it might not be realistic. We need to know. “
Mr Roberts told the meeting that if the money was not agreed, work on the study would not take place – unless government funding was approved – and the board would be left to research from another place to build 1,000 houses.
He added: “It is an obligation for the council as part of its Local Plan to try to advance its strategic allocations.
“This is indeed the next step in trying to move this strategic allocation forward because at the end of the day, if it is not developed, there will be at some point a question that we will have to answer: where are we going to host the 1,000 that we do not provide on this strategic allocation.
Obviously, the situation did not suit most of the committee members as four of them abstained from voting.
The recommendation was approved by three votes to two.