West Sussex Gazette

Local plan review settobe paused


Councillor­s have voted to pause a review of the their council’s ‘local plan’ and look at it again in six months’ time.

At an Arun District Council planning policy committee, members voted to put the work on hold.

This was in light of proposed reforms to the planning system as a result of the government’s white paper Planning for the Future and the upcoming Planning Bill.

Adopted in 2018, Arun’s local plan outlines how growth will be achieved across the district, which means it has a bearing on planning decisions, developmen­t and regenerati­on up to 2031.

Councillor­s agreed to review the plan last year but were not able to gain a consensus on its future vision and objectives.

Committee members were asked to make a recommenda­tion to full council on whether to continue with the update as planned, extend the timetable, or pause it altogether.

They decided on the third option for a number of reasons.

Committee chairman Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) said that new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communitie­s Michael Gove signalled he would make changes to the Planning Bill.

Mr Bower said: “There has been a change of Secretary of State who is going to change parts of the bill.

“Option three is not as off the wall as some people might think and I believe it is certainly a viable possibilit­y given the changing nature of planning rules.”

He added: “We do not want to keep throwing money at a local plan we’re going to have to go back and review.”

Council leader Shaun Gunner (Con, Rustington East) was also present at the meeting and agreed that the review should be paused to avoid ‘extending the plan’ and adding ‘five to eight thousand homes’ to housing targets.

He said: “Do we want to redo our local plan and add in five to eight thousand homes in Arun under the current planning system?

“Or do what other authoritie­s have done – pause our local plan and be the first in the new planning arrangemen­ts.”

Mike Clayden (Con, Angmering and Findon) agreed with Mr Gunner, saying extra housing ‘would be absolute madness’.

But Green Party councillor Isabel Thurston (Barnham) said pausing the review while waiting for potentiall­y unknown planning changes could be ‘extremely risky’.

She said: “Convincing that it is that this wonderful surprise of no five year land supply will be sprung on us, it seems extremely risky.

“Can we make a decision based on something that members of our council are being told is going to happen?

“We do know that updating our local pan will result in more houses, obviously, but we’re increasing the number of years those will be built in.”

Henry Jones (LDem, Yapton) asked if studies into the likes of flood risk could still be commission­ed in the meantime.

He said: “Now is a pretty poor time for us to sit on our hands.”

Council officers said some studies had already been commission­ed but others were ‘very expensive and take quite a lot of time to deliver’.

They added that there was a risk of having to redo studies if they are completed while the review is paused.

For all the latest news from across West Sussex, visit our website at www. westsussex­today.co.uk

What do you think of the local plan decision? Email your thoughts to ws.letters@ jpimedia.co.uk

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