Extra funds for local plan work approved

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton

FURTHER consultancy work on the Arun local plan to the tune of more than £300,000 was agreed by councillors on Monday.

Arun District Council cabinet were left with ‘no choice’ but to approve the funding, following the suspension of the vital housing delivery plan for 18 months.

Arun needs to update its plan to work towards a government house building target of 758 homes per annum – up from 641 homes per annum originally submitted.

Principal planning officer Kathryn Banks said: “If cabinet do not agree the recommendations, officers will not be able to undertake the required work within the suspension period as requested.

“This would mean the council would be encouraged to withdraw the local plan by the inspector because the inspector would find it unsound.”

The £306,000 costs will be funded through reserves and the original 2015/16 local plan budget.

As a result of the suspension, some of the planned works will be delayed, freeing up part of the funding for the new projects.

Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower said: “It’s basically a no-brainer as far as the local plan is concerned.

“We have to deliver the plan within the time scale agreed with the inspector but it does require an awful lot of work to do that.

“I am pleased we are not talking about a new plan as such. This is moving the furniture round to be able to deal with the matter.”

Mr Bower recently attended a local government conference in which he told colleagues about the cost of putting the plan together – estimated to be in the region of £1.4million.

He said he was ‘laughed at’ as the cost was much lower than other authorities, one of which had spent £3.6million on its plan.

“I think we have done well to get to this stage and £306,000 would not be a drop in the ocean but on the other hand we have no alternative.”

The planned works include updates to the transport assessment, infrastructure delivery plan, employment study and habitat regulations assessment.

n See pages 16 and 17 for a detailed report on the future of the area’s housing need