City told to plan for more housing

Planning
Planning

A PLANNING blueprint could be delayed by up to two years despite the district council increasing its house-building target to almost 7,400 new homes.

As the Chichester local plan inquiry continued, developers questioned whether the district council’s new housing target of 7,388 by 2029 was based on up-to-date data.

The target – raising the number of homes per year from 410 to 435 – was only given the green light by councillors last week.

However, developers told independent government inspector Sue Turner the figure should be even higher.

Adam Ross, from Nexus Planning for Commercial Estates Group, said the Jacobs report, a West Sussex County Council transport assessment carried out in March, 2013, tested a maximum of 440 new homes a year.

However, he claimed it should have tested a much higher number.

“It’s not the case that there isn’t capacity to accommodate more homes, it’s that the transport study doesn’t assess a higher capacity,” he said.

Developers said the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing in the area had increased from 560 to 575 homes per year since the Jacobs report – meaning it should be redone.

However, Chichester District Council said undertaking another assessment could take anything from six months to two years.

By that time, the OAN could have changed yet again meaning the plan would never be adopted.

One developer suggested adopting the plan but with a promise the council will undertake a new transport assessment.

Councillors were also told their housing allocation for parishes were ‘arbitrary’ and ‘plucked out of the air’ as they lacked evidence or explanation.

If Ms Turner agrees with the criticism, it will be another blow for the district’s plan.

When the increase in the homes target was debated last week, councillors raised concerns about whether existing infrastructure would be able to cope with yet more houses.

Particular fears were raised about sewage and a lack of employment opportunities. The inquiry continues.