ARUN’S local plan should be suspended for up to 18 months for further work, a government inspector has recommended.
Arun District Council had hoped for a delay of just six months, while critics of the vital housing and employment document wanted it withdrawn and a fresh start made.
The delay is required for further studies on how the district can meet Government house building targets.
“I do not consider that suspension of the examination in the terms suggested by Arun District Council is an appropriate option,” inspector Roy Foster wrote in a letter to the council, published on its website this morning.
The local plan sets out the district’s vision for housing and employment until 2031.
It must set the number of homes which should be built each year - a figure known as ‘objectively assessed needs’ (OAN).
Arun changed its figure from 580 homes per year to 641 last month, after new data emerged.
But following a lost planning appeal and further studies, the figure was indicated to be 758 homes per year.
Councillor Ricky Bower, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure at Arun, said: “Whilst, the council is disappointed the inspector did not support the council’s preferred approach, he has supported a variance of it.
“His report contains many observations which we will need to consider carefully over the coming weeks.”
Critics of the plan told the inspector at a procedural meeting earlier this month that the plan could be legally sound if Arun has not fully investigated whether it can meet the latest figure.
The council argued against withdrawal of the plan, arguing it would leave the area open to speculative planning applications, with no defence.
The inspector has sided with a hybrid solution, put forward by property consultancy Barton Willmore.
This would see the council work towards the 758 figure, rather than just working with the 641 per year target.
The council is expected to discuss its response at a meeting of the local plan sub-committee tomorrow night.