Inspector backs West Sussex blueprint despite 3,100-home shortfall

An inspector has backed a local plan that provides for just over half of a West Sussex district's objectively assessed housing need, finding that the 'significant shortfall' when measured against need could be justified due to the 'significant constraints' that exist.

Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex: location of Adur District Council's headquarters (picture: Adam Tinworth, Flickr)
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex: location of Adur District Council's headquarters (picture: Adam Tinworth, Flickr)

In a report published this week, inspector David Hogger found Adur District Council’s local plan sound, provided that a number of main modifications are made to it.

The document set out a housing requirement of 3,718 homes up to 2032, against an objectively assessed housing need of 6,825.

The annual housing need figure of 325 dwellings per annum compares to an indicative figure for the district of 412 produced by the government’s proposed standard methodology for assessing housing need.

The inspector’s report said that, while the housing requirement represents a shortfall of more than 3,100 homes when measure against need, the council’s approach is "justified and in all other respects sound".

The inspector noted that "there are a number of significant constraints to development within the broader area".

"Much of the coastal fringe (large parts of which are at risk of flooding) is already built-up and to the north sits the South Downs National Park - the availability of suitable sites for development is therefore very constrained," the report said.

According to the inspector’s report, concerns had been raised regarding whether or not effective and deliverable policies on strategic cross-boundary matters, particularly in terms of housing provision, have been produced.

But the inspector concluded that Adur District Council "has used its best endeavours to address matters of housing need".

In his report, Hogger ruled out a proposal for an affordable housing sliding scale, which would have required all new developments to provide a contribution towards affordable housing.

The inspector found that the approach was contrary to a 2014 written ministerial statement stating that contributions towards affordable housing should not be sought on sites of 10 units or fewer.

"I have considered whether or not there are any compelling reasons why an exception should be made in the case of Adur but conclude that there are many other districts where housing needs cannot be met and where there are environmental or other significant constraints to the delivery of housing," report said. "There are no local circumstances of sufficient weight to justify making an exception in this case."

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