Thursday, 24 October 2013

Arun Local Plan

Arun is still to decide on its local plan, the current evidence in the SMHA (Strategic Housing
Arun's Local Plan.
Market Assessment
) says that we should build for the next 15 years 565 houses per annum,   currently we are building  725 last year and already there are permissions in place to build many thousands of houses in new estates in north Littlehampton.

The Local Plan process was designed by the previous government in an attempt to get more houses built; the current coalition government has gone along with that process because they want new housing.  But locally there is rightly resistance to building houses for people who come from outside the district to settle here and then commute to Gatwick, Brighton or Portsmouth.

As a District Council we want more jobs and are willing to build houses for those people, but we don’t see it as our duty to be Gatwick’s dormitory.   Any numbers we agree will be subject to agreement by an Inspector and if we set the number too low, then our plan will be rejected.
Why does this matter?  Because then we are open house for any speculative developers who want to build on any site, yes we can reject it in our planning process, but if they then go to law which is what they are increasing doing, then because we don’t have a local plan in place, the judge will decide in favour of the developer and award costs against Arun.  That’s tax payer monies going down the drain and is not a way to run a planning system.   Arundel has an issue with Horses Field, but because Arun does not have a Local plan in place it is at risk of a speculative application.

As Councillors we are between a rock and a hard place, the electorate can’t understand why we would agree to build houses in these numbers on one side, and developers who don’t want to see our local plan succeed and take advantage of the situation.

 I have not made a decision yet  (As this would be pre-determination and would preclude me from the debate and vote), but I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that we have to agree a plan as soon as possible and one that will get past the Inspector.  I also personally believe that these houses should be the highest ecological rating (eco code 5 or 6) as this may be a break of sorts on the developers and will ensure that we get a quality sustainable build.  It’s a difficult call either way, but I will listen to residents and then take a view.

On another matter, the local Conservative branch is holding a social event at Sage Restaurant on the 2-8 Castle Mews in Tarrant Street, Nick Herbert MP will be there to speak. The cost is  £29.50pp for two courses which also includes a welcome glass of sparkling wine, if anyone wants to attend (You don’t have to be a member)  then contact Mr Bruce Henderson, Branch Treasurer  tel: 01903 882928  or email  bruceghenderson@gmail.com

Paul Dendle is the Arundel ward & Cabinet member for the Environment on Arun DC.  He can be contacted at Pauldendle@aol.com and his web site is www.pauldendle.org

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