Vision for thousands of new homes across Arun district approved after years of debate

Residents outside the Arun District Council offices ahead of the meeting which saw the local plan adopted
Residents outside the Arun District Council offices ahead of the meeting which saw the local plan adopted

A council vision for thousands of new homes across the Arun district in the coming years was approved last night after years of discussion (Wednesday, July 18).

The Arun Local Plan sets out a blueprint for housing and economic growth, with 20,000 homes envisaged for the district.

Some of those houses have already been built, as the plan covers the period 2011 to 2031 – but to deliver the housebuilding targets, significant developments from Pagham to Littlehampton’s West Bank have been earmarked.

Arun District Council adopted the plan at its full council meeting last night.

The plan was adopted by a comfortable majority but Liberal Democrats voted against it.

While the Conservatives pointed out the plan would provide new homes and allow the council to refuse speculative applications, opposition members blamed the plan’s delayed adoption –leading to a steep rise in the housing target – on Tory infighting and raised concerns about the ability of the area’s infrastructure to cope with the amount of large-scale development proposed in Arun.

Speaking after the meeting, Tory councillor John Charles, cabinet member for planning, said: “The adoption of our local plan is a milestone and a huge achievement and although not without impact, means the Arun district and local communities will be supported by planned development, infrastructure and polices to ensure that there is appropriate protection, conservation and mitigation.”

The local plan has been years in the making, courting controversy every step of the way as concerned residents hit out at hefty housing targets.

Numerous setbacks saw the plan’s progress delayed, with government targets for housebuilding creeping ever higher in the background.

The plan was initially submitted for examination by a Government inspector in 2015.

Back then, the annual target for building new homes was 580 – but the figure rose to 641 later in the year after new population statistics were released.

The plans’ progress was suspended in July, 2015, when an inspector recommended more work was required, particularly around the amount of homes the district should accommodate.

When the latest version of the plan came before the inspector in September of last year, Arun proposed a new target of 1,000 homes per annum – 20,000 over the plan period.

The plan does not mean planning permission will be automatically granted for any major housing project but it does set out how Arun could achieve the overall target.

It includes a vision for thousands of homes for the likes of Bersted, Pagham, Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate, among others. Littlehampton’s West Bank is also earmarked for around 1,000 homes.