Ford Eco-town Select Committee

 
Arun District Council has conducted a widespread public investigation into the proposed siting of an eco-town at Ford.
 
We have resolved to carry out this independent inquiry in order to bring the evidence about Ford out into the open so it can be debated in public. We are concerned at the extremely short period of time allocated by the Government for their ’so-called consultation’, and that as judge and jury of this issue they seem unprepared to put forward their evidence into the public domain. Unlike the Government, we have the courage to invite people to come forward with evidence that can be discussed in public. We shall then submit these findings as part of the consultation and we expect that these findings be taken into account fully before the final decision on eco-towns is made. The Council alone has collected considerable evidence over the past three years that showed the Ford site was not the most sustainable in Arun.
Cllr. Mrs G. Brown, Leader of the Council
 
This public investigation involved calling for evidence to be heard from, most pertinently, the promoters of the two proposed schemes at Ford. Key stakeholders, such as the Highways Authority, Water Authorities, Primary Care Trust etc. were invited to attend and participate in the examination of the sustainability ’credentials’ of both schemes. Local residents and businesses were also approached to give evidence and in addition, government ministers were invited by the council to come and observe the findings of the select committee enquiry to see what a real community consultation process looks like. Support for Arun’s proposal was received from local MPs Nick Gibb and Nick Herbert and representatives from West Sussex Primary Care Trust and West Sussex County Council.
 
At the council meeting on 30 April 2008, it was agreed that a select committee should be established to examine the proposals for an eco-town at Ford and to report back to the council on a proposed response to the consultation currently being undertaken by the Department of Communities and Local Government. The consultation period closes June 30th and the Council has been given special dispensation to forward the response shortly after this date.  The questions that the Select Committee had to answer were:
  • Is development of an ’eco-town’ at Ford (comprising at least 5,000 homes and associated employment, social and community infrastructure) sustainable, viable and deliverable?
  • What long term impacts might such a scheme have on the rest of the District?
Arun used its own laid down scrutiny procedures from its constitution to examine the merits and demerits of the government proposal for an eco-town at Ford.
 
The inquiry was held between Tuesday 27th and 4th June 2008 and is now closed. The select committee then worked with the independent planning consultant Jim Redwood to produce a report of their findings, which was presented at a public meeting of the committee on 17 June and then Full Council on 30 June and agreement reached by Full Council as to the comments to be submitted to the Housing Minister, Caroline Flint. The Select Committee meetings were held in the Council Chamber, Arun District Council Civic Offices, Littlehampton with the final day held at Yapton Parish Hall. All meetings of the Select Committee were held in public session.
 
The Select Committee went on to work with the independent planning consultant, Jim Redwood, on producing a report of their findings which was presented to Full Council on 30th June 2008, later submitted to the Housing Minister, Caroline Flint.
 
 
 
In early November 2008 the Government launched the second round of consultation on their National Eco Town programme including the proposal at Ford.  The documentation from Government on this second round was extensive and includes a Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Eco Town programme and a draft Eco Towns Planning Policy Statement.  It included a specific Sustainability Appraisal, a Habitats Regulations Assessment of each of the individual sites including Ford and a Financial Viability Study of the Eco Towns Programme.
 
 
Following three meetings of the Select Committee (and agreement by Full Council), Arun District Council provided a full written response to the consultation. This is contained in the following documents:
 
The Select Committee considered the Council’s response to these important documents and made recommendations to Full Council on 18th February 2009, meeting the original DCLG response date of 6th March 2009. However, the consultation period was extended to 30th April 2009 to allow for consultation on the above Financial Viability Study following its publication on 5th March 2009. The Select Committee reconvened on 27th April 2009 to discuss the response to this document. The Select Committee itself met twice (16th January and 5th February 2009). These meetings were open to the public but verbal presentations were not invited. 
 
To view the Comparison Table referred to in Item 4 of the Agenda for Meeting of Select Committee 5th February 2009, please see Comparison Table.doc [doc] 65KB
 
A review of the government's process relating to the consideration of potential locations for siting of eco-towns was undertaken. Select Committee Report on Process of Eco Town Programme Published 16th January 2009.doc [doc] 75KB
 
To view the minutes of the meeting of the 16th January 2009 please see the documents below
 
To view the background document entitled Economic Impacts of the Proposed New For Eco-Town - Final Scoping Report - November 2008 (SQW Report) please see the Ford Eco-town Scoping Report.pdf [pdf] 5MB
 
 
News
June 2008
3rd
DCLG
3rd
Houses of Parliament
May 2008
29th
The Argus
April 2008
22nd
BBC News
11th
Bognor Regis Observer
7th
LGA
Councils angry at eco-town plans
4th
The Times
3rd
DCLG
3rd
DCLG
March 2008
4th
House of Commons
February 2008 
19th
The Argus
5,000 eco-home town. It’s crazy
July 2007
23rd
DCLG
 
 

Final Eco Town PPS Published - Ford Not Included

Following the consultation carried out by the government in early 2009, the final eco-towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) was published on 16 July 2009. This initially relates to four ’first wave’ eco-town locations, which do not include Ford. These four locations will receive a share of £60mil to support local infrastructure and the government hope that 10,000 dwellings will be completed by 2016 in these four locations. The PPS was accompanied by a ’Location Decision Statement’, which set out a summary assessment of the locations, based on the evidence currently available, including a ’Sustainability Appraisal’ and consultation responses. This concludes that Ford has not demonstrated the potential to meet the sustainability and deliverability requirements for successful development as an eco-town at this time. A final report summarising the contents of the PPS and accompanying documents was presented to the select committee on 5 August 2009.