I doubt if many of your readers have had a chance yet, to find out about the government’s outrageous attempt to bypass local democracy and planning proposals, to build a so-called Eco-Town in the Ford/ Climping Gap ‘See (Bognor) Observer last week’. This is because the proposal, currently one of 15 across the country, is being forced upon us without any formal input from West Sussex County Council, or Arun District Council. What is more, the Eco Town Proposal is being bulldozed through by the end of June, which makes a mockery of the Housing Minister Caroline Flint’s assurance (Feb 08) of “public consultation with communities and stakeholders, and the rigorous planning processes involved”!
In brief, the proposal is not eco friendly, or strictly a town, covering as it will an area three times the size of Arundel! Nor does the proposal make any allowance for the failed Arundel bypass or the horrendous traffic problems already experienced by the residents of Chichester on the A27. The project mentions 5,000 houses, but economics & financial return dictate this is more likely to be 15,000 to 25,000.
In summarizing the factors for and against the Ford Eco-Town proposal, it is very hard to find a single argument in favour of the project. It is true Ford Airfield is flat, but some 30% is medium to high-risk floodplain - indeed even the developers’ proposal mentions the need for a raised road, through the site, to enable residents to escape in the event of a flood - and 70% of the land is Greenfield, prime, arable land. What price Gordon Brown – strutting the world stage and mouthing platitudes about food shortage & the rocketing costs of wheat and other food crops.
In short, the project is a classic example of half-baked government thinking; it is an old idea, dressed up in Prescott’s clothes and rolled out under the disguise of affordable housing. Incidentally, the maths indicates houses will come in at some £250,000+ to enable the scheme to pay. How many can afford this right now?
Come off it Caroline Flint - thanks, but no thanks!
Terry Knott MC FRSM
Church Lane, Yapton