The principle focus within the District remains on the evolving Local Plan, which is now running six months behind the original schedule. The second phase of public consultation into Arun’s draft Local Plan will now take place in the late spring of 2013 due to the number of responses received during the first phase. Critical features of the Plan include Economy, Housing and Transport. Local MP Nick Herbert has been actively involved in the debate in highlighting the deficiencies of the current process, in particular the fact that the Plan making process has been put ahead of an effective assessment of infrastructure capacity and sustainability. There is an urgent need to look at capacity, sustainability and infrastructure across a larger geographical area to take account of the overall scale and impact of potential development and reflect that in responses to the Plan.
Arun District Draft Local Plan
As previously predicted, Arun DC unveiled in July for public consultation its draft new Local Plan, setting out NPPF-compliant planning policies for Arun District over the next sixteen years.
Although the draft claims to protect “our much valued landscape including the coastal plains...and the land between existing settlements” (para. 1.3), it concedes that Arun is legally bound to plan for the housing targets in the still-unrevoked South East Plan and therefore takes into account both ADC's “preferred” target of an average 400 new units a year and the SEP average of 565 a year.
In order to satisfy the higher SEP target, the draft therefore identifies the three villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate “with their local services and the vastness of undesignated space between them” (para. 4.9) as an area that is a “particularly sustainable location” for additional housing growth - and consequently a “strategic allocation” of 1700 or more new homes (Policy SP8).
Subject to improvements to the A259, Angmering is also named as a “strategic growth location” for up to 1030 new homes, while other parishes in the District are expected to accommodate at least 1120 new units - though rather surpisingly almost none are allocated to the parishes covered by the abortive Ford eco-town (Policy SP8). Since further consultation on the draft Plan is promised over the winter, it remains to be seen whether these allocations are final.
As part of its Local Plan preparation process, Arun DC has over the winter been consulting its parish and town councils on the ‘provisional spatial distribution’ of new housing in the District, and also its statutory consultees on the policy content of the new Plan, with final public consultation scheduled from July.