Arun District Council said today it was considering holding its own public inquiry into Government plans for the siting of an eco-town in West Sussex.

It said it wanted a ‘widespread investigation’ of the plans for the eco-town, which is on a site near Littlehampton, as well as a public debate. Any plan for an inquiry will need full council approval and a decision will be made on 30th April at a council meeting.

The council is concerned that local planning policy could be overturned by central government and said it was dismayed at the listing of the site where at least 5,000 homes could be built.

No reassurance

Arun’s cabinet member for planning Councillor Ricky Bower, said: ‘I feel absolutely no sense of reassurance that we will be listened to as a planning authority. The Minister has completely ignored our grave concerns that such a development would be diametrically opposed to locally agreed planning policies. Those policies have been developed in partnership with local communities, taking into consideration local needs. The Minister’s announcement says, in effect, that local policies meeting local needs mean nothing to central government.’

Any inquiry will be led by eight councillors and an independent planner and will also look at alternative sites before reporting back to the council at the end of June.