Time limit for pause on Arun local plan review is voted down

Councillors have voted down a call to put a time limit on Arun District Council’s decision to pause its Local Plan review.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:02 pm
Littlehampton Civic centre. Pic Steve Robards SR2103252 SUS-210326-165356001

Last month, members of the planning policy committee recommended that the review be paused in the light of possible government planning reforms, and then looked at again in six months’ time.

But, during a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (November 10), some opposition members didn’t like the idea that the delay could last longer than six months

Tabling an amendment for a six-month limit, Matt Stanley (Lib Dem, Marine) said he ‘saw the advantage’ of pausing but added that there was no advantage in leaving the Local Plan review ‘potentially open-ended’.

Henry Jones (Lib Dem, Yapton) used much blunter words, describing the plan as ‘not fit for purpose’ – no surprise given the council passed a motion of no confidence in it two years ago.

Mr Jones added: “I understand that the government is possibly going to be introducing planning reforms but just sitting around waiting for the government to solve our problems for us – we need to be a little bit more proactive.

“I don’t wish for this council to be sitting around twiddling its thumbs, not updating the Local Plan and just waiting and hoping that government steps in and waves a magic wand and creates a perfect planning system.”

Adopted in 2018, Arun’s Local Plan outlines how growth will be achieved across the district, which means it has a bearing on planning decisions, development and regeneration up to 2031.

The amendment was dismissed as ‘game playing’, ‘politics’ and ‘retrograde’ by Tory councillors.

Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) said it was ‘very relevant’ that Secretary of State Michael Gove had signalled he would make changes to the Planning Bill – including the possibility of reducing the number of homes the district had to build.

His view was that starting work on the Local Plan review before knowing what the planning reforms would bring would be a waste of money if that work then had to be looked at again.

He added: “The main reason for the delay, as far as we’re concerned, is we don’t know what the proposals are going to be.

“Therefore we do not want to spend money and have to revisit studies that we’ve already undertaken because the reforms change the circumstances under which we would have to meet a Local Plan.”

Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel & Walberton) added: “We’re saying let’s review again in six months’ time – perfectly sensible.

“Within six months’ time we should have a much clearer way forward and know where we stand – but we still have that chance to review.”