Having recently attended the public consultation and also read the ADC Draft Local Plan I have found it to be, clearly, a document which is not ‘fit for purpose’.
The document appears to be a wish list of development and of asset striping of ADC-owned and other property decided upon by elected and unelected organisations for their mutual benefit, but to the wholesale detriment to the district and all who live in it.
There is no definitive calculation of local housing need and no regional target for housing, yet
the council has settled on an arbitrary 400 properties a year
(ie 6,000 over the course of the plan). The plan has settled on 81.5 hectares of commercial development in addition to this.
The plan (section 24) has not worked out infrastructure needs associated with any development and considers improvements to the A29 (section 16.2.5) to be ‘medium to long term aims’.
Unfortunately the plan gives ADC the power to issue ‘Local Development Orders’ and, combined with the stated Policies SP1, DM5, DM7, SP8, SP18, this amounts to a development free-for-all. This may well be further compounded by any mis-use of Neighbourhood Development plans which are also being developed.
Further to this, I was advised by one of the officers at the consultation in regard to brown-field sites that suitable land was not being used as unspecified developers were sitting on the land and Arun didn’t want to use the relevant compulsory purchase powers available to them for the genuine benefit of the community (shame really – section 13.1.19 says CPOs would be used as a last resort and Policy SP4 says brown fields sites will be developed as a priority – a bit of a contradiction).
The proposals for the Hothampton site are a farce (particularly as section 10.0.5 prioritises ‘premium retailers’). The proposals for Regis Centre site, the five villages and the industrial development on the former LEC site (with no direct access to the relief road) are no better. None of these things are wanted by the local people (see section 2.2 –’protect areas valued by local people’).
Strategic planning should start with determining the genuine need of the district. First, providing the necessary infrastructure for the future; second ( the debacle that is site 6 should have demonstrated that) and not base development on the vagaries of what developers and unelected organisations want to exploit to their advantage, or the maximum financial return that Arun can extract.
If it wasn’t so serious this document would be funny. However, to plagiarise Morecambe and Wise, ‘the plan wot Arun have rote may have some of the right notes but not necessarily in the right order’.