Extra funding to fight Arun planning appeals signed off

The cost to the Arun taxpayer of fighting unwanted or unsuitable development has increased.

Arun District Council approved an extra £100,000 for its planning department to fight appeals from developers.

Group head of planning, Neil Crowther, explained why the money is needed at the Policy and Finance Committee on Thursday (June 30).

“We’ve got four public inquiries currently on the system, which all come in really close succession,” he said.

Proposed homes at Rustington Golf Centre is one of several appeals Arun District Council is due to contest

“Normally we get one every one or two years so it’s highly unusual.

“We just don’t have the capacity in house to deal with that volume of work for all four of those appeals.”

One appeal, over plans to build 76 homes in Angmering, will start on Tuesday (July 5).

Another concerns plans to build 191 homes at Rustington Golf Centre.

The applications were turned down by council officers under ‘delegated authority’ and not the Planning Committee.

Mr Crowther said he was ‘comfortable with all the decisions’ despite the appeals.

Opposition leader James Walsh (LDem, Beach) also said he was comfortable with these decisions but expressed concern over the ‘large sums of money’.

“Presumably quite a few of [the appeals] are happening because of the presumption in favour of development,” he said, “Because we are not complying with the government’s demands for house building numbers in the area.

“That’s why developers are seeing opportunities to make these demands for planning applications in areas outside the local plan.”

Other appeals due to be contested include retirement apartments at Chandlers in Angmering and 106 homes west of Pagham Road.

The council failed to meet government housebuilding targets which means it must consider all ‘sustainable’ development proposals for approval.

Mr Crowther said this was not a new development but added that the system seems to work in the developer’s favour.

“Yes, absolutely developers are taking a chance at appeal because it’s a process and a system which is probably very heavily in their favour,” he said.

“I think that all of those decisions were the right decisions under delegated authority.

“I’m absolutely comfortable with all of them, but that’s not to say we’re going to win all of those appeals in front of a planning inspector who may give weight to different factors.”