THE suspension of the Arun local plan inquiry could see more than £300,000 splashed out in consultancy fees.
Arun District Council’s cabinet is being asked to sign off £306,000 from its 2015/16 reserves and local plan budget to help pay for unplanned assessment work in the wake of plan’s suspension.
If the cabinet does not agree to fund the additional local plan costs, then officers would not be able to undertake required work during the suspension period, Arun’s leading councillors will be told on Monday.
“This would potentially mean the council would be encouraged to withdraw the local plan from the examination process; or that the inspector would find the local plan unsound as it would not address the identified objectively-assessed needs for market and affordable housng,” said a report prepared ahead of the meeting by officers.
The local plan hearing was suspended earlier this year for 12-18 months, with the government inspector saying the council needed to work towards a higher housing target without constraints of 758 homes per year.
Mike Turner, chairman of the Villages Action Group, which is fighting to protect greenfield land around the Aldingbourne, Westergate, Eastergate, Barnham, Walberton and Yapton areas, reiterated his concern at the inspector’s assertion that more homes were needed.
“We’re disappointed that the inspector has planned for such a high number but this is unfortunately something that’s coming from central government,” he said.
The £306,000 would supplement £100,000 agreed at full council in June.
Fundamental work to be carried out during the suspension period includes an update to the Arun Transport Study (2013) and a strategic flood assessment. Additional work includes a Ford level crossing feasibility study.
The council is budgeting £230,000 to be spent on the consultancy fees for this work, with additional resources of £32,000 and a contingency of £44,000 also earmarked.
Officers believe this is enough cash to cover the costs required for the additional local plan expenditure.
“This is due to the slippage of some projects programmed for 15/16 which have not/will not occur due to the suspension of the local plan process ... and therefore the funds are not being spent,” said the report.
The cabinet meeting to discuss signing off the money transfer takes place at 5pm on Monday at the Arun Civic Centre, in Littlehampton.
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