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


  1. The initial SHMA figure in the published evidence was 575 per annum. In the time since that number was published around 800 applications with relentless approvals/appeals are afflicting Eastergate, Barnham and Aldingbourne alone. One developer in Barnham, is building 40 houses in the cherished local gap that ADC Local Plan Councillors voted to keep but because the Council could not (and cannot and don't plan until December to..) demonstrate that they have a 5 year land supply (not a full Local Plan). ADC laid down 28 conditions on the development. This week they broke two of them by demolishing buildings on the site which took place as school children were seen accessing the site. ADC's Enforcement Team decided no harm had been done and advised Barratts to stop work. They haven't. Is it any wonder that the western residents of the District have no confidence in the Council?

  2. Paul, this approach to strategic planning for land use in the District denies the social and economic needs of today and tomorrow, is in direct conflict with that of your colleagues in central government and gains nothing from being much the same as that of Nick Herbert, MP and your cabinet colleagues on ADC. The approach shows nothing learned from the consequences of neglect to provide sufficient new homes and failure to retain and attract better paid employment. This foot-dragging approach to meeting social and economic needs of future generations as defined by the Conservative-led Coalition, not Gordon Brown this time, is, in my view, poor governance and indefensible.

    There are many practical and moral issues raised by your suggestion that our house building programme can be restricted to 'the needs of locals', defined, I would guess, to satisfy those of us who are comfortably settled here and sufficiently articulate. The appeal to narrow self-interests shows no inclination towards the spirit behind national planning objectives, the need for economic growth, duty to consider needs beyond district boundaries and dashes hopes that Cameron/Pickles may have had that Conservative councillors can be trusted with the Localism agenda. Perhaps you, like me, have personal experience of choosing to live in Arun whilst earning a living elsewhere, a choice taken by thousands of families in the past 60 years ? Thank heavens the locals of yesteryear were not so hostile to incomers ! Many of the host community have since been saddled with hereditary deprivation in a low-pay district with shortage-induced house prices. The Conservative Party still has a duty to improve their outlook, not through exercises in protectionism which are unworkable and, I hope, unlawful but through ambition and increased opportunity.

    You and your colleagues now have the ORS report on the assessment of housing need
    which tells us that not only were the RES and SHMA assessments valid but that annual house building figures in excess of 630 may be necessary. On this very issue a large number of local authorities, voluntarily or otherwise, have withdrawn or altered plans they had submitted for examination. I trust we shall hear no more from either our MP or our council that in Arun things are different and we can get away with planning for shortages ? We are highly vulnerable to undesirable development and prolonged self-delusion adds to the risk.

    Arun District Council has now been working on a Local Plan for nine years and still there is nothing to put forward to an Inspector. Of the 56 Members available at any one time, but a cohort of more than 75 with comings and goings over nine years, the same three have controlled the process throughout. At one stage four leading officers working on the Plan left the council within a relatively short space of time. I fear your piece on the subject reflects attitudes in council which have been a drag on openness, objectivity and optimism for far too long. I believe the Conservative Group, with 45 Members of the 56, has the responsibility to bring fresh minds to the Plan

    Harold Hall 28 October 2013

  3. Paul, you seem to be uncomfortable with the idea that Arun should provide housing for people living outside the district yet you do not comment on the fact that 37% of our population are compelled to leave the district each day for work. We rely very heavily on other districts to provide employment, largely because Arun has failed to make adequate employment provision for its own people.

    The council’s employment proposals in the 2003 Local Plan have failed. The architect of the 2003 Local Plan has been rewarded with an 8 year term as leader!!

    Not a single employer has turned up at Oldlands Farm. The council is planning to close most of the horticultural industry for housing – north Littlehampton, Angmering, and Eastergate to name but 3.

    We must be grateful that other districts do not take your narrow isolationist view. If they refused to provide employment for people outside their districts (as you are advocating with housing) we would be sunk! Thank goodness they can see beyond their own boundaries.

    I sometimes think that modern Conservatives have forgotten what Conservatism is!!


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