Arun District Council’s difficulties in determining the area’s housing future is putting communities at risk of unsuitable development.
That is the view of one Littlehampton town councillor, as Arun faces two major inquiries over plans for Fontwell and Yapton in the coming months.
In both cases, conflict between Arun’s difficulty in identifying enough land for housing and villagers’ wishes, outlined in neighbourhood plans, will be tested.
Independent town councillor Derrick Chester questioned whether Arun’s current issues had come because of historic objection to a single large settlement at Ford.
“A combination of the Government’s planning policies and the inability of Arun to secure a five-year land supply puts communities at risk of being landed with totally unsuitable development,” he added.
An inadequate land supply effectively lowers the bar to gaining planning permission.
It renders local planning policies out-of-date, meaning plans should be approved if they are deemed ‘sustainable’.
A total of 16 planning applications presented to Arun’s development control committee since November have debated land supply.
And while it has not always been the determining factor, land supply has often carried significant weight.
In March, 90 homes were approved in Pagham after land supply was deemed to be of ‘crucial importance’. This was despite the plans being located in countryside where the principle of housing was ‘unacceptable’.
An additional six appeals heard arguments over land supply in the same period.
Asked if the issues had led to more speculative applications, an Arun spokesman said: “Over recent years, in the absence of an up-to-date local plan, there have been numerous planning applications but these have all been considered on their merits and schemes have been approved as well as refused.”
Arun also noted how changing Government guidelines on neighbourhood plans and four increases in its annual housing target had complicated matters.