Call for halt to major Arun housing developments until flood risk from climate change is understood

Pagham Beach. The village is one of a number of areas due to take significant housing development
Pagham Beach. The village is one of a number of areas due to take significant housing development

Major housebuilding in the Arun district should be halted until the flood risk from climate change is properly understood, according to Independent councillors.

The area has to take an average of 1,000 new homes a year up to 2031, a target set by Arun District Council’s local plan.

But Independent councillors at Arun have argued that the document, adopted last summer, does little or nothing to protect the district from rising sea levels result from climate change.

They have submitted a motion, due to be discussed at the next council meeting on Wednesday September 18, asking the authority to call on the Government to introduce a moratorium on large-scale development in the Arun district whilst climate change and its potential impact on coastal plain development is properly assessed.

It also asks the council to instruct the chief executive to write to the appropriate minister requesting a meeting and calls on local MPs to engage with the concerns raised.

Tony Dixon (Ind, Aldwick East), proposer of the motion, said: “Climate change and its potential impact on coastal plain development must be properly assessed at governmental level before we grant planning permission for 20,000 new homes as required by the local plan.

“We are looking for deliverable and funded plans for dealing with this risk, and we seek a moratorium on large scale house building until then.”

Cllr Coster (Ind, Aldwick East), seconder of the motion, added: “The local plan does not adequately protect new and existing communities from rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

“Therefore, we have no confidence in the local plan. We are seeking an urgent meeting with government to discuss the potential impact of climate change on the coastal plain and we will challenge the government to tell us how it intends to protect new and existing communities.”

The motion argues that the district is ‘uniquely unsuitable’ for large-scale development because it is particularly vulnerable to the risks arising from climate change in addition to flooding that already occurs.

It explains: “Large scale development in an area at risk of coastal and tidal flooding, flash flooding, surface water flooding, groundwater flooding from chalk aquifers and fluvial flooding is irresponsible.

“Because we live on a coastal plain the land is flat and the water table is very high. Drainage of surface and ground water to the sea is slow, even more so at times of major weather events, via a small network of rifes that are tide locked twice a day. We also have the South Downs to the north shedding water southwards towards the coastal plain and sea.

“Against this background, this council believes that the local plan does not adequately protect new and existing communities from increasing flood risk. Therefore, we have no confidence in the local plan.”