Target of 1,200 homes a year would be ‘completely unrealistic’ for Arun

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton, home of Arun District Council
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton, home of Arun District Council

Government proposals which could increase Arun’s housing target to 1,200 homes a year would be ‘completely unrealistic’, according to a consultation response from the council.

Arun District Council is working on its local plan, which has a current housing target of 1,000 dwellings per annum, and is due to hold another consultation on modifications in December.

The revised plan, alongside public comments, are then expected to be sent back to the planning inspector in early 2018.

A Government consultation document called ‘planning for the right homes in the right places’ is part of a drive to speed up housing delivery across the country.

Proposals include a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing needs, which council officers suggest could increase Arun district’s current figure from 919 to 1,199 homes a year.

Arun’s response to the consultation says: “Whilst it is welcomed that there will be a standard formula which will mean that excessive debates and scrutiny are avoided and more certainty in plan making is created, it is considered that the results of this approach for Arun are completely unrealistic and unachievable.”

It continued: “The development industry cannot and will not deliver at that rate, even if sufficient sites were allocated and permissions granted.”

The response was discussed at Full Council last Wednesday (November 8).

James Walsh (LDem, Beach) described the figures being floated as very different to the 500 a year figure which the council started with on ‘this long and tortuous process’.

He suggested the focus should be on providing truly affordable housing rather than overall housing numbers, with many young people not able to stay in the area due to high prices to buy and rent.

Trevor Bence (Con, Aldwick East) cabinet member for residential services, described how the council was delivering affordable and social accommodation through its housing revenue account.

Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) explained how the figure of 1,200 homes a year was an officers’ assessment based on the methodology proposed in the Government consultation papers.

He added: “Anyone who suggests that is our new housing target will have to wait at least five years’ time because that’s when we will be assessing our housing needs next.”