HOUSING figures cannot just be ‘plucked out of the sky’ – that was the message as councillors debated the draft local plan on Tuesday (July 23).
In a Chichester District Council meeting which went on well into the evening, members were asked to consider a series of amendments to the draft local plan.
The changes mean there will be a second, smaller, public consultation on the draft local plan this summer.
The annual housing target has changed to 410 homes per year, spread across the whole of the local plan.
It was 395 homes per year, plus an extra 258 homes when the plan is first introduced.
Endorsing the change, Cllr Myles Cullen said: “It puts it in a much more simple form and allows us to spread it out.”
Council leader Heather Caird said: “Consultations have led us to the minimum number of houses that we believe we’re allowed.
“If we fail to have our plan accepted because we can’t prove our numbers developer will have a free reign to develop where every they want to go.”
Describing the process so far as ‘torturous’, she said Chichester had talked to councils across the country to get advice on how to develop an acceptable local plan.
She said both East Hants and Waverley entered plans with ‘significantly lower’ housing figures than expected and both had their plans turned down, at a cost of £220,000.
“That’s not a position we want to find ourselves in, in any circumstances,” she said.
Referring to the amendments to the draft plan, she said: “I hope this will be a sign to the community that we’ve made changes as a result of the consultation.”
Cllr Tony French agreed describing the changes as ‘very sensible compromises’.
Some councillors questioned why such an important topic was not higher up on the agenda.
Cllr Quentin Cox: “I think it’s most unfortunate that we’re debating such an important bit of this document at 5.30pm.”