Campaigners say minister’s guidance backs their cause

CAMPAIGNERS in the Six Villages have said new planning guidance backs their case for fewer homes.

Members of the Villages Action Group have welcomed a statement to MPs by the government’s planning minister to support their campaign for sustainable housing.

Mr Boles told MPs planning inspectors will be able to consider constraints such as flooding when they assess housing numbers in local plans compiled by councils.

Local authorities will also only have to show they have consulted with their neighbouring councils rather than having to agree to co-operate.

Guidance around avoiding building in flood plains has been strengthened by Mr Boles as well as the need to take into account the preparation of neighbourhood plans where the adverse impacts of speculative developments would significantly outweigh the benefits.

VAG chairman Mike Turner welcomed Mr Boles’s comments. “We are very grateful to our local MP Nick Herbert for all the work he has done behind the scenes in parliament to bring about this new guidance,” he said,

“Arun District Council have always said that they were concerned lower housing figures would be rejected by the planning inspectorate.

“But it is clear from the new guidance that the huge constraints on development in Arun can be taken into account and a lower housing target of 450 homes a year, instead of the current proposal of 580 homes, would be acceptable. The lower figure would provide not only for local housing needs but would contribute towards housing needed to provide for incomers from other districts, such as Adur and Worthing.”

His announcement came as the A29 Nyton Road in Aldingbourne was about to reach a month closed because of excess water flowing off saturated surrounding fields.

Arun’s councillors agreed the higher housing number earlier this year but they have yet to decide where future large-scale housing schemes should be built. Sites such as Aldingbourne and Eastergate, which had been expected to take more than 2,000 homes, are being looked at again by council officers and councillors.

VAG has campaigned for constraints like flood risk, lack of sewerage capacity and school places to be taken into account by inspectors when they assess an area’s ability to accept new housing.

Mr Herbert said the guidance wasn an ‘important steer’ for the inspectorate and a better balance between new housing and the countryside.