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Arun Local Plan approved despite ‘significant’ environmental damage

Wednesday, 18 July 2018 15:22

The Arun District Local plan - with a housing requirement of at least 1,000 homes a year (or 20,000 homes by 2031) has been found sound despite the examining inspector highlighting the "significant negative effects" of its housing allocation policies on the environment.

The examination report, by inspector Mark Dakeyne, states that the plan's housing requirement "represents a significant level of growth” but that the Sustainability Appraisal shows this level of growth can be accommodated. The annual target is almost twice as high as the requirement figure in the 2013 version of the which proposed 580 homes a year.

Following criticism by CPRE Sussex and others that the plan was not ‘deliverable,’ Dakeyne has also suggested adding a requirement to the plan "that would trigger a review or partial review" should the council lack a five-year housing land supply at a future point in the plan period.

At the Local Plan hearings CPRE Sussex, local campaigners and town and parish councils argued that the level of growth proposed in the plan would be to the detriment of the District’s countryside and wildlife. Dakeyne agrees that "This scale of development will have a range of adverse impacts, including urbanising of the countryside, loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land and placing strains on existing infrastructure, including the highway network.”

"Areas of the district are at risk from flooding and affected by European nature conservation sites.”

And that

"The [sustainability appraisal] records that significant negative effects will occur as a result of the allocation policies.

However, the inspector’s final view is that that the adverse impacts do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits and specific policies in the NPPF do not indicate that development should be restricted.

Key housing allocations include 2,500 homes at Bognor Regis, which overall will receive about 35 per cent of the overall housing supply. The plan also allocates 3,000 homes around the three villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate, 1,000 homes at a site in Littlehampton, plus 1,500 homes at the village of Ford. The plan further includes a 68-hectare strategic employment land allocation at a new Enterprise Bognor Regis site.

The plan's "stepped approach" to housing delivery increases the annual target from 610 homes a year between 2011/12 and 2015/16 to a peak of 1,310 homes a year between 2020/21 to 2025/26.

Can the market absorb this much new housing in Arun? Will developers build out to the rate suggested by the plan? What will be the consequences if the plan fails? What will be the impact on the countryside of this massive step change increase in development? …..

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