Record housebuilding plans across Arun district are so high they are destined to fail, a government inspector has been told.
Aldingbourne resident Louise Beaton criticised targets in Arun District Council’s local plan, which would see an average of 1,000 homes built annually up until 2031.
Mrs Beaton, of the Aldingbourne Neighbourhood Plan team, rebutted claims from developers that the figure was deliverable – or even not high enough.
Speaking at the examination of Arun’s local plan on Thursday (September 21), she said: “The problem is if we set the figures too high it is going to set up this plan to fail.
“It is not deliverable on the basis of the trends that have been delivered in the past.”
The local plan, outlining a vision for housing and economic growth between 2011 and 2031, plans for more than 20,000 new homes.
But housebuilding levels since 2011 have not reached the levels now required, with just over 600 homes completed last year.
Delivery will need to be higher in some years to catch up, peaking at 1,873 homes in 2019/20.
Robin Green, barrister for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, questioned whether such levels were deliverable.
He said: “House builders are not going to flood the market and put the council’s housing projections above their own financial interest and there is no evidence that I can see that the market can sustain that level of house building.”
Paul Collins, a planning consultant for Keith Langmead Limited, said Arun’s target was too low.
He argued Arun’s offer to help meet housing shortfalls in Worthing and Chichester, representing 1,600 of the 20,000 homes, was not enough.
He said the council needed to accept development of more smaller sites, rather than relying mostly on larger housing projects.
Representatives of the housebuilding industry said previous low rates were set against a backdrop of land supply issues.
They highlighted the Government’s current drive to ‘significantly boost’ housing.
Failing to keep up with its targets would render Arun unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.
This effectively lowers the bar developers have to meet to gain planning permission, as local planning policies are deemed out of date.
The council’s development control committee has frequently faced approving plans which contravene policies because it currently cannot demonstrate the required land supply.