We recognise that planning can sometimes seem incredibly complex and confusing. That's why we have been answering some of the most common questions that people are asking about the Local Plan Review process in order to correct some of the myths and misinformation surrounding this.

In our most recent email newsletter, we cover a range of questions on housing targets, housing for local people, the environment, waste water and the timeline, to name a few.

I want to assure you that we are working incredibly hard on the Local Plan Review and that we are progressing this very complex piece of work as fast as we can. One of the roles of the review is to explore whether the housing allocation set by Government can be met. If the evidence shows in planning terms that this isn't possible, the Planning Inspector will consider this when reviewing our Local Plan and the Government's housing requirement may be reviewed. This is why the evidence is so important. Our officers have been busy reviewing all elements of the plan. To date, they have already created 41 policy documents! This gives you an idea of how complex this piece of work is.

We know that there has been a lot of concern from residents on the Manhood Peninsula about planning applications. I want to assure you that the special qualities of the Manhood Peninsula are recognised in the emerging Local Plan, which seeks to direct the bulk of future development elsewhere in the plan area. I also want to assure you that we have robust measures in place to protect the plan area from inappropriate speculative development until the Local Plan Review is adopted. Every planning application is considered carefully by the council. As part of this process, we 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. In addition to this, we have introduced an Interim Housing Policy Statement. This is part of our rule book for planning applications and this considers other factors, such as the protection of strategic wildlife corridors and Environment Agency advice on flooding.

Over the past couple of years, we have sent letters and have been involved in meetings with Government officials to explain the complex issues we face in our area. In fact, only recently, our Council Leader and Chief Executive, along with Gillian Keegan MP, met with the Minister for Housing to discuss these issues and to request that we are treated as an exceptional case. Unfortunately, our request was not agreed. It was made clear by the Minister that if we believe that the evidence we collect shows that we cannot meet our full housing requirements, then the Local Plan may be submitted for examination on that basis. However, the Inspector assessing our plan must have evidence that demonstrates, in planning terms, what can and cannot be achieved. This also needs to demonstrate that all available options have been considered.

The plan covers lots of different topic areas, which is why we are issuing a monthly email newsletter covering each one and we will shortly be releasing a series of videos on social media aimed at helping you keep well informed. You can sign up to our email newsletter or read previous editions.

Best Wishes

Cllr Susan Taylor
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning