As you may be aware, we published the timetable for the Local Plan Review earlier in the year. Unfortunately, the plan has experienced delays and this has largely been due to elements of the plan that are in the control of other agencies. We want to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to move forward with this piece of work as fast as possible.

Since our Local Plan was adopted in July 2015, the Government has changed the way it calculates future housing needs and this means that we are now expected to take more housing within our area. Over the past couple of years, we have spoken with Government officials to explain the complex issues that we face.

Through the preparation of the new local plan we are testing if it is possible to accommodate the housing requirements set by the Government. This process factors in a number of key considerations including the ability to deliver critical infrastructure to support new housing. It is important that we have considered all available options to meet the level of housing need set by the Government. However, if our evidence shows that certain things are not possible, the Planning Inspector should take this into consideration when reviewing the targets that we have been set by Government.

We also need affordable housing. There's a high demand for housing and we know that young people are finding it difficult to get on the property ladder as first time buyers or renters. We want those who grow up here to have the option to stay here — and so we need to make sure that there are homes of the right prices and type that will enable us to do this. Unfortunately, there is limited Government funding available for affordable housing. This is why the Local Plan is so important, because it requires developers to deliver a proportion of affordable homes that are suitable for local families and young people who have a local connection. This is vital because we also need to attract people to work here, in our hospitals, schools and other essential services.

We know that people are concerned about some of the planning applications that are being submitted. I want to assure you that we have robust measures in place for the council's consideration of planning applications. As part of this process, we often consult with relevant organisations such as Southern Water, West Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Highways England. If any of these organisations highlight significant problems which cannot be overcome, then an application would be refused. We have also introduced an Interim Housing Policy Statement which is our rule book for planning applications and considers other factors, such as the protection of strategic wildlife corridors, and flooding.

In order to meet the Government's housing targets, we need to make sure that the right roads and facilities are in place. Although we are not responsible for these areas, they need to be resolved in order to deliver the plan. We have carried out huge amounts of work, looking at where housing could possibly go and what new roads or improvements would be needed. This requires us to carry out detailed assessments, accounting for all sorts of things, from the environmental impact to local economic needs. This work, which has involved transport specialists, has identified that we need a series of improvements to the junctions on the A27 and a link road from the Fishbourne roundabout, to the Manhood Peninsula. Our partners have agreed that the evidence points to the need for the link road if we are to meet the level of growth the Government expects, and that this approach is needed in the absence of a Government funded major scheme for the A27. The proposed link road would cross over land owned by West Sussex County Council and in their role as local highways authority they have now asked us to carry out a much more detailed assessment on this so that the full benefits and impacts can be understood. Completing this work will take some time and is a vital piece of evidence for the Planning Inspector who will review the plan, to consider whether it is acceptable for adoption.

Waste water has also long been a problem in the South of the district. Following an official complaint to the Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, we have been holding constructive meetings with Southern Water and the Environment Agency, and Southern Water has agreed to work with us jointly on identifying improvements that need to be made. Over the coming months, we will be working with them to ensure that their commitment to effective progress and engagement in waste water issues is achieved and that the required evidence work on waste water disposal is completed.

We intend to continue to regularly update you on this important piece of work and you can Sign up to the Local Plan Review email newsletter.

Best wishes,

Diane Shepherd

Chief Executive