THOUSANDS more new homes could be forced on to the Bognor Regis area – because a neighbouring council doesn’t want them.
Worthing Borough Council’s draft local plan land use blueprint leaves it 8,600 dwellings short of its government target.
Nearby local authorities have a duty to co-operate with each other. That means Arun District Council could be faced with having to find space for at least some of those properties.
This prospect prompted alarmed Arun councillors to formally object to Worthing’s plans at a meeting last week.
Arun local plan sub-committee chairman Cllr Ricky Bower said: “I am disappointed by what Worthing appear to be bringing forward.
“Should Worthing not be able to accommodate these houses then Arun will not be able to resolve its objection to the proposed plan because of the significant impact that would arise for the community of Arun.”
He called on Worthing to increase its proposed density of 35 dwellings a hectare in the developments it did envisage.
“That is low in comparison to parts of Arun. If their density was higher, then they would be able to accommodate more homes. That’s one aspect I have some issues with,” he said.
The sub-committee agreed to send a strongly worded response to Worthing’s consultation about its plan before yesterday’s deadline.
Arun already has to accept 20,000 homes in the 20 years until 2031 in its local plan under government proposals. This has meant large sites in North Bersted and Pagham have been earmarked for sizeable developments.
Kevin Owen, the council’s planning policy team leader, told the sub-committee this already included unwanted properties from along the south coast.
“Arun has an adopted local plan and has already made provision under the duty to co-operate to accommodate some of the need arising in Worthing (and Chichester) which, when combined, amounts to some 1,600 dwellings,” he said.
Any extra dwellings would increase the demand on services across Arun. “…as it stands, there is likely to be significant housing pressure and an impact on local services in neighbouring authorities because people will be forced to seek to live close to, but outside of, Worthing’s district,” Mr Owen said.
“I don’t want to fall out with our neighbours but this is quite a serious issue. But it’s important we put down a marker to be taken seriously. Worthing could do more. We should be talking about matters like the density before this.”
The objectively assessed need for housing for Worthing – the measure which uses government-set criteria to determine the number of properties required – has been set at 12,801 dwellings.
But Worthing’s council only wants to make space for 4,182 dwellings to leave a shortfall of 77 per cent.
He said Worthing should start meeting with Arun to discuss the matter, carry out detailed studies to find more efficient land uses, set high densities and see if housing could be added to some employment sites.