Arun Local Plan gets committee backing

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130226194658
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130226194658

Councillors admitted they are ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ as they backed the revised Arun Local Plan for publication.

Last night’s sub-committee meeting saw many members express concern about the ‘staggering’ housing allocation and resulting pressure on health provisions, school numbers and highways.

It was the second meeting in a crunch week on key updates to the district’s local plan as it seeks to cater for nearly 1,000 homes per year - a figure which is almost double that envisaged when Arun first submitted its plan in 2015.

Officer Neil Crowther presented a graph illustrating a predicted ‘bump’ in 2017/18 - when planning permission has been granted on sites - which would see the ‘over delivery of 1,300 dwellings for five years then drop to 960 for the final five years’.

Councillor Wensley asked if the council was satisfied it can meet the numbers outlined.

Mr Crowther explained ‘we feel there aren’t many alternatives that we can consider’.

He said: “The strategy has to be realistic and deliverable - the inspector doesn’t want us to set up to fail - he wants to see a plan delivered. The end result is the same it is just how we get there which is a bit different. Hopefully, yes, we have a robust case.”

The numbers include ‘duty to cooperate’ of 1,600 homes over the course of the plan to help surrounding areas address their housing shortfalls.

The revision work follows the plan being suspended by government last year, when it was asked to investigate if a need of 845 homes per year over the plan could be met, after evidence came to light suggesting its 580-home annual target was out of date.

Councillor Oppler, the only council to vote against the recommendations, said it ‘has been a sorry tale over the last few years’.

He added: “Over the last 40 to 50 years Bognor Regis and Littlehampton have swallowed the lion’s share of development.”

Something he deemed to have had a ‘devastating effect’.

However councillors Cooper and Wensley were among those who warned it is something that must be done.

Mr Cooper said: “This is across the district, it doesn’t just effect Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, there are many towns and villages within this district that are taking increased numbers and we are all struggling with the numbers that are coming up.

“We are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but the one thing that needs to be delivered is this local plan.”

Meanwhile Mr Wensley added ‘if we don’t have a local plan we are all aware of what the consequences are’, referring to the alternative being the allocation is set centrally.

The decision will now pass to full council on March 22.

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