High costs could scupper appeal over controversial Durrington housing plans

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against a controversial housing plan in Durrington fear they will not be able to pursue a High Court legal challenge because of the costs involved.

The Don’t Over Develop Durrington (DOD) group had planned to launch a High Court appeal against the decision of Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee to grant planning permission for 700 homes to be built near Fulbeck Avenue, which was made on October 20.

But having now received documentation about drainage systems in the Durrington area from Worthing Borough Council before Christmas, the group fears it would need to hire a consultant engineer.

John Hughes, from DOD, said the group’s evidence suggested there would be a considerable risk of flooding if the homes were built, because the land currently acts as vital flood relief by absorbing water in the event of heavy rain.

If the land was turned to housing, the sponge-like ground would need to be turned into concrete, forcing the water further downhill and causing a flood risk, John said.

But despite the fact the group has the expertise of a former Shell geologist to rely on, John said the group would probably need to hire a professional if their appeal was to stand a chance in the High Court, which would entail enormous expense.

He said: “We wanted to know what was the capacity with the drainage system. Things like litres per minute and whether it’s near capacity and whether it could cope with more water.

“We have a geologist from Shell and he could work it all out to see if the drainage system could cope with it at all, but all we got was maps that weren’t complete. “Our feeling is if they don’t have the figures, how can the chief engineer from the council say it’s all hunky-dory, and it’s unlikely to flood – it’s wrong. “It’s the same story – the little man is stamped on by the bullies.”

The current planning application is to be refined by the West Durrington Consortium – the name given to collaborating developers Heron, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon – before full council approval is granted.

The project would involve 700 homes being built near Fulbeck Avenue, with the possibility of a further 300 homes in the future.

The group has not decided yet whether it will pursue its High Court challenge or not.

Those who would like to help the campaign should email dontoverdevelopdurrington@gmail.com