Pressure on Adur’s green spaces intensified on Tuesday as scrutiny of the area’s long-term housebuilding future began.
Adur District Council faces challenge from developers bidding to build on a series of greenfield sites between Lancing and Shoreham.
A two-week examination of the council’s local plan is underway, with the promoters of sites not included in the plan making their initial pitches to a government inspector.
James Appleton, head of economic growth, said: “(The plan) seeks to achieve a balance between meeting the need to build new homes, commercial facilities and more employment floorspace, while striving to enhance the character of the district which so many value.”
The council supports development of green spaces at West Sompting and New Monks Farm, in Lancing.
It opposes others, including Old Salts Farm and New Salts Farm –both between Lancing and Shoreham.
On day one of the examination, the council faced scrutiny from inspector David Hogger over its description of some sites being part of the ‘green gap’.
He explained green gaps were identified to maintain separation of different areas – but argued development of Old Salts Farm would not significantly threaten the gap.
He said: “I am concerned that I think the council has rather taken a blanket approach.
“I appreciate these sites may still be countryside and should not necessarily be developed but I don’t see the justification for necessarily imposing an additional layer of restriction on them.”
Mr Appleton said sites which were not included in the plan had a range of issues.
On flood risk, he said the owners of New Monks Farm had identified a technical solution but problems with Old and New Salts Farm were yet to be resolved.
Andrew Williams, representing New Salts Farm owners, Hyde, however, argued flood risk could be addressed any should not prevent the site’s inclusion in the plan.
The plan supports delivery of more than 3,600 homes up until 2031. It falls short of Adur’s government-assessed housing need of 5,820. The district’s severe land shortage is mirrored across the county.
James Stevens, of the Home Builders Federation, said the council should commit to a review of the plan in 2021. This, he said, would enable Adur to work with councils across a wider network to ‘find a strategy to resolve the conundrum’.
Click here for a summary of what the Adur Local Plan is all about.