Campaigners fighting major housing developments around Bognor Regis could benefit from a radical planning review.
Arun District Council is set to consider all the options to enable it to meet the housing targets imposed by the government but protect as many green fields as possible.
New Lib Dem council leader Cllr Dr James Walsh wants to ensure the current local plan land use document until 2031 is completely re-considered to find out if its allocated sites for development can be changed.
These areas include four large plots around Pagham – which total some 1,000 dwellings – and 3,000 homes in the Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate area.
Cllr Dr James Walsh said: “It is my intention to initially have a full briefing for all councillors, but more especially the new ones.
“Then, I propose an internal meeting for all councillors to look at all options for the local plan.
“We know that, in any case, we have to start on an update for it for the next five years.
“But I want to examine all possibilities, from how to implement or to change some of the sites for housing delivery, the phasing of such delivery, and most importantly to ensure that we have the right infrastructure – such as roads, schools and medical facilities – in place before homes are occupied.
“It is also vitally important that brownfield sites are fully exploited before taking more productive agricultural land or open spaces, and that the potentially significant impact of sea level rise of a least a metre over the next 30 years is factored in and not left to chance.
“It will then be taken formally to local plan policy committee and, ultimately, to full council.”
News of the impending review was welcomed by the Pagam campaign group. Its chairman, Alan Pivett, said the local plan needed to be looked at to take full account of the effects of climate change.
Recent reports had emphasised the need to consider the impact of the rising sea level.
“We need to move developments back to lessen the risk of the housing being flooded. This is the case with the Hanbury development in Pagham Road.
“For this reason, the local plan has to change,” he said.
The Hanbury scheme for 400 dwellings is subject to a judicial review to be held later this month. Another for 300 homes at Hook Lane is due to go to a planning appeal in October after Arun rejected it.
A second, identical, application has been submitted by the developer, Hallam Land Management, for the district council to consider as well.
Two of the other proposals have been approved in outline form.
The current local plan was approved by Arun councillors last July after it was backed by a planning inspector at an enquiry the previous autumn.
*Top planning councillor Martin Lury has spoken of his hopes to create more eco-friendly policies. Cllr Lury (LD, Bersted), Arun District Council’s cabinet member for planning services, said: “I want to make planning more environmental and green.”