Arun District Update February 2019

13th February 2019

Since the District Council’s adoption of the Local Plan in July 2018, following a lengthy examination by the Inspectorate, it is fair to say that residents are completely disenfranchised and dismayed by the apparent indifference of developers and the council to the need for new infrastructure to support the building of 20,000 houses by 2031 and the need to protect wildlife and prime agricultural land.

I think this enormous housing target is totally unachievable, which is evident when you look at the Council’s Monitoring Report showing that (in the most recent document available on the website) for 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017 the rate of completed dwellings was 659. Therefore, over a 20 year plan the shortfall could be substantial. It seems significant that the figures for April 2017 to March 2018 are not available, some 10 months later.

The completion rate will not exceed market demands and the projected figures have no bearing on this. If the council falls behind on delivery of new housing (even though it is not building these houses itself, it is still held to account) then this tilts the balance towards even more speculative development being approved, on top of the sites allocated in the Local Plan.

The majority of Parishes in the District have ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans and now that the Local Plan has been approved they are deemed out of date and will need to be reviewed, an additional expense for which there is not a great deal of enthusiasm, as people are reluctant to participate when the goal posts are moved and probably will be again.

“The duty to co-operate” means the District must help to achieve the required amount of housing that its neighbours cannot accommodate. This has already increased Arun’s numbers and looks to be a further burden as Adur and Worthing council is not able to find land for its quota. All the while, valuable agricultural land is being ‘concreted over’ and the problems of draining surface water and processing sewerage waste gets more and more difficult to manage.

Strategic site planning applications have come forward and, on the whole, have been approved by Council, mainly because they are part of the Local Plan. One site in Pagham (400 homes, a school etc Land South of Summer Lane & West of Pagham Road, Pagham P/140/16/OUT) was approved in November 2018 and now Pagham Parish Council are taking advice on a Judicial Review as the strength of local opposition is riding high. Mitigation assessments, appear, when studied closely, wholly inadequate. 280 homes at Land North of Sefter Road & 80 Rose Green Road, Pagham (P/134/16/OUT) were also approved in November 2018. The application for 300 homes (P/6/17/OUT, Land north of Hook lane, Pagham) was refused on 23rd January for highways reasons. It is expected that the developer will appeal. At the same meeting applications were approved for 65 houses at Homs lane, Pagham (P/25/17/OUT) and 300 dwellings at Land East of Drove Lane, Yapton (Y/92/17/OUT.) The Arun Group have formed an Alliance with action movements, such as P.A.G.A.M., BADDEAL, NO YAPTOWN AND SAVE ANGMERING VILLAGE, all of whom are passionate about their communities and wish to safeguard the environment. We are all aware that some housing is needed, but there is a total lack of commitment to the right types of housing for people who are resident to the District. The Alliance shares information, strategic actions and ideas to assist in trying to achieve a sensible balance between community ‘Need’ and developer ‘Greed.’

My concern now is what is in store for us all if the Local Plan, which was not implemented until July 2018, some seven years adrift, starts to fail due to the unachievable housing target.

I would like to see the Government implementing and financially supporting a Social Housing Programme that can cater for the under privileged earners who are still being over-looked. We have an increase in homelessness and young people living with parents and grandparents because they are unable to purchase a house and in many cases are unable to afford the high rents. With that in mind the Arun Group will be holding a Conference later in the year to debate the affordable housing problem and what we can do to impress upon Government that there is a greater need than just building for profit.

Apologies that there is not a lot to rejoice over but be assured that we in the Arun Group will be doing all that we can to support more balanced and sensible decisions to provide housing where it is needed and to also enhance and protect the countryside that is essential to our well-being.

Michael Warden, Chairman,
CPRE Arun District Group.
7 February 2019.