Crunch week in future of Arun as number of new homes needed reaches 20,000

Arun Civic Centre ENGSUS00120130227103532
Arun Civic Centre ENGSUS00120130227103532

Councillors will meet twice next week in a crunch week in the future of Arun.

Key updates to Arun District Council’s local plan will be discussed by committee members on Monday and Thursday.

The meetings come amid news the district is now working to a target of finding enough land for 1,000 homes per year.

The figure is nearly double the amount envisaged when Arun first submitted its plan in January 2015.

It includes delivery of 1,600 homes over the course of the plan to help surrounding areas address their housing shortfalls.

The council commissioned studies after a government inspector called for the plan to be suspended last year.

It was asked to investigate if it could meet a need of 845 homes per year, after new evidence came to light suggesting its 580-home annual target was out of date.

The latest data indicated Arun’s housing requirement was now 919 homes per year - 18,380 homes between the plan period of 2011 to 2031.

But with the likes of neighbouring Chichester and Worthing unable to meet their targets, councillors will be asked to support an additional 1,600 homes to partly meet the shortfall.

The latest figures were criticised as ‘pie in the sky’ by Mike Turner, vice chairman of the Villages Action Group.

He said the figure, known as ‘objectively-assessed housing needs’, did not take into account limitations on development like flood risk.

“It is laughable,” he said.

“It is beyond the bounds of credibility. How much more land is available?

“Fifty per cent plus of Arun is a flood plain. Where is the common sense? I just think the whole process is very flawed.”

According to council reports, an average of 609 homes have been built in Arun over the last five years.

A study admits the strength and health of the economy will be crucial in dictating whether the levels of housing will be deliverable.

Ricky Bower, Arun cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said: “All I can really say at this stage is the higher the (housing needs) figure the less likely a five-year land supply, controlled entirely by developers, becomes achievable.”