Arun’s ‘appalling’ road network will not cope under the strain of 20,000 new homes.
That was the view of residents on Thursday, who claimed plans to meet government housebuilding targets were coupled with inadequate infrastructure improvements.
Arun District Council’s local plan has tested the impact of housing to be delivered up until 2031.
But critics, including former county council engineer and surveyor Alan Lovell, told the local plan examination it did not go far enough.
Mr Lovell said: “My belief is Arun are not satisfied. They have had a load more houses to find and it has been a helter skelter rush to find more sites but they know very well that the infrastructure required to support it is lagging far behind – and putting hopes on future development is not satisfactory.
“There is no strategy.”
Work on the local plan included hiring consultants to study the district-wide traffic impact of development.
The study tested 45 key junctions, with 15 identified as requiring works to prevent a ‘severe’ increase in traffic.
A financial contribution would be expected from each major development to ensure roadworks were paid for.
But Mr Lovell said the works identified lacked credibility. He explained how developers planning 300 homes in Climping had pledged to deliver far in excess of what the local plan called for.
Government inspector Mark Dakeyne, presiding over the examination, said individual applications often highlighted additional works.
Mr Lovell said: “If schemes are not actually identified and the scale of the scheme identified in the local plan you don’t end up with the money to do it.”
Residents were told infrastructure proposals would not solve existing issues but simply avoid the housing in the local plan making things worse.
The examination heard development was also not dependent on construction of an A27 bypass at Arundel and Chichester.
Philip Higson, of Pagham Parish Council, said his fellow councillors had no confidence that development would not increase congestion.
Climping Parish Council chairman Colin Humphris branded current congestion issues ‘appalling’.
“How will you attract inward investment if the infrastructure is no better than it is now,” he said.
Derrick Chester, Independent councillor for Littlehampton Town Council, highlighted how past policies had not delivered adequate improvements.
He said the town council had to step in to provide funding for a bus route to serve the Courtwick development.
He said: “I’m afraid the policy objective to promote sustainable transport didn’t find its way into the reality and we have got to do better because if we don’t, I don’t know what the word is for worse than severe but it will be that.”
Developers told the inspector their proposals would prevent major problems.
James Bevis, representing the Ford Consortium, said “I can understand the concerns of residents. They are not uncommon. You look out the window and see existing traffic problems and can’t see how it can possibly be improved – but you have the work which sets out how the impact of development can be mitigated.”