The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is due to visit our town on Friday (May 11) for a Conservative Association fundraising dinner.
The event will be held at the Bognor Regis Golf Club on Downview Road, which is subject to a controversial planning application for 480 new homes.
“Downview Road is very busy already and with speed humps and pot holes and pot holes. The road will not cope, especially at the traffic lights at school time,” reads one letter of complaint sent to Arun District Council.
With that in mind, Arun District Councillor Francis Oppler (Lib Dem) said Mr Gove’s visit is in poor taste.
He believes the proposal to build on the golf club site is a direct consequence of central government pressure on local administrations to meet housing quotas, and insists Mr Gove’s visit speaks to a wilful ignorance of that fact.
“There’s a complete lack of sensitivity on the part of the local Conservatives to invite Mr Gove, the man responsible for changing planning legislation, whilst there’s a live application on the site,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Conservative Association said the golf club was chosen as a venue a ‘considerable time ago’ and so could not be changed, adding: “guests will not be discussing any live Planning Applications with Michael Gove at this dinner. “
Mr Oppler was joined in his opposition by councillors Gill Madeley and “We just want things to be fair and square, really and we feel this is basically immoral. It’s wrong to do it when there’s a live planning application,” added councillor Gill Madeley (con).
Cllr Oppler and Cllr Madeley were joined in their objections by Cllr Elaine Stainton (con) and independents Jaine and Simon Wild.
Their objections come alongside a planned demonstration outside the Bognor Regis Golf Club tomorrow evening, coinciding with Mr Gove’s arrival.
Residents are expected to turn out in scores at the demonstration, making their objection to the planning application and Mr Gove’s visit emphatically felt.
The planning application was submitted to Arun District Council in December last year, and a decision is due on June 3.
The application is for outline planning permission with all matters reserved and makes provisions for up to 480 new homes, a new means of access onto Golf Links Road, as well as the creation of new surface water drainage, new landscape and habitat creation.
The development will also affect a public right of way, and represents a departure from the development plan .