Archive for the ‘SHMA’ Category

Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) Validation findings – published

October 19, 2013 5 comments

The agenda for the October 31st 2013 meeting of the Local Plan Sub-Committee has been published, including the Strategic Housing Market Assessment Validation.

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment Validation findings are:

“Having considered and tested the data (both original and updated), and the methodology used in the SHMA, the assessed level of housing required for Arun district does not appear excessive. The SHMA reports have taken into account key changes in both population (including migration as well as natural change) and household projections in a relatively robust manner. 

Further, the requirements produced are compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (2012). 

The SHMA has derived a housing requirement target of 575 homes (average) over the planning period. This broadly aligns with our validation exercise, which indicates a requirement for around 620 homes each year on the basis of Mid-trend Migration trends and the most recent household headship rates. 

Nevertheless a consequence of this conclusion is that a large proportion of the new housing required will be provided for households who are not currently resident in the Arun District – a key concern for local stakeholders; this should be noted. ORS, indeed, recognises that the SHMA as it stands perhaps lacks transparency in certain places and, possibly this has contributed to the concerns of local people. 

In summary, therefore our conclusion is that the number of homes identified by the SHMA is not an unreasonable target and is broadly acceptable.”

Here are some thoughts:

VAG, in particular, has invested much energy in seeking to reduce the housing target. It was always an unwinnable argument and that is now clear. VAG now needs to wake up and smell the coffee – fast!

It seems to me that, as a direct result of delays to the Local Plan, most communities across the district are now facing a tsunami of unwelcome planning applications. A swift decision to create a new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield is now the only way to ease the mounting development pressure on all other communities across the district.

A new settlement on brownfield land at Ford Airfield is the best solution for the district (the case for a new settlement is argued elsewhere on this blog). None of the action groups have shown much appetite for making the case for an alternative to village extensions. They will come to regret this!

The process has been prejudiced from the start – but the action groups are not complaining!

Sucking up to Nick Herbert MP has achieved nothing either. When Ford Airfield was under the spotlight for development (a new settlement as an alternative to village extensions) Mr Herbert probably did more than any other person in the district to steer development away from Ford.

He was fully aware that merging the three villages of Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate and a smaller development at Angmering were the most likely alternative when he campaigned against development proposals on brownfield land at Ford Airfield. He had an election to win at the time! 
The parishes of Barnham, Eastergate and Aldingbourne were due to be moved into a neighbouring constituency under the proposed boundary changes.  The problem for Mr Herbert is that the boundary changes are not now going ahead and Barnham, Eastergate and Aldingbourne remain his problem, and a problem largely of his own making. The chickens have come home to roost!


Where’s our £80,000 being spent?

September 25, 2013 1 comment

Parish and Town councils across the district have had their funding slashed by Arun District Council – but why isn’t there enough money for them?

At Full Council on 29th May 2013, the council resolved: “(2) strategic allocations be determined in light of the outcome of a review of the SHMA;” and “(4) the sum of up to £100,000 be agreed as a supplementary estimate for the production of studies and other evidence to support the above. This is equivalent to £1.81 on a Band D property of the Council Tax.”

We now know that the (second) review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will cost £20,000 – so what is the balance of £80,000 for?

So far, Arun have refused to disclose exactly what “studies and other evidence” this money is for. In response to a public question the leader merely repeated the mantra that it is for “studies and other evidence” but why won’t the council provide details? What studies? What evidence? What are they hiding?

A supplementary estimate for £100,000 constitutes major expenditure, particularly in these difficult times, when local authorities are making huge cuts in public expenditure, including service reductions, pay freezes, staff redundancies and, of course, withdrawing support from Town and Parish Councils.

Perhaps Arun’s Conservatives feel that they are so important that they do not need to explain what they are doing with our money, whilst they slash funding to our Parish and Town Councils?

Brief for the review of the SHMA

July 18, 2013 1 comment


If, like me, you have wondered what reasons Arun District Council has for seeking a review of the SHMA then you will find the brief and appendices below informative.

VAG have made a number of interesting points which Arun appear to have taken seriously enough to warrant committing up to £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on this review.

The outcome will be very interesting and will have far reaching implications one way or the other.

With thanks to Sue Ware of SAV for obtaining this information through a Freedom of Information request.

SHMA review brief

SHMA review brief -appendices

Is it all about UKIP?

June 11, 2013 3 comments

A lot has happened in the last few weeks – here are a few random thoughts:

First we had the SE Plan, then the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), and then the SHMA “critical friend” evaluation – all of which recommended a higher housing number (565 – 580 houses p.a. or maybe higher) than Arun’s original “preference” for 400 houses p.a. (remember that!). Arun’s officers have confirmed that there is no evidence to support 455 houses p.a. let alone 400 houses p.a.!

Now Arun’s Conservatives have allocated £100,000 of taxpayer’s money for another “review” of the SHMA evidence, before deciding on strategic locations (and we all know that the council has already declared its “bottom line” in a press release!).

Little detailed justification was given for why such a huge amount should be spent – just:

“The Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure then concluded the debate on the amendment by confirming his view that the underlying data in the SHMA could be wrong and that was why a review was being requested.” 

It’s only £100,000!

On 2nd May 2013, in the county council elections across the Arun district, the Conservatives received 10,100 votes, UKIP 10,036 votes, Lib Dems 5,055 votes, Labour 3,467 votes, Independents 766 votes and BNP 57 votes.

Arun District Council has been under the control of the Conservative Party since its first election in 1973. The last elections to the council were held on 5 May 2011. Crucially, the next elections are now less than two years away.

An incredibly unpopular Conservative council needs to make itself popular as a matter of urgency.

Are we now witnessing a political group using £100,000 of taxpayer’s money to “win” short term popularity … and to provide a convenient excuse for when it eventually has to face up to its responsibilities?

Is this a publicly funded face saving exercise mounted to cover up poor political leadership throughout the Local Plan process?

For instance, the creation of a one horse race, in which the proposed “horse” is almost certainly undeliverable and rather carelessly located in Conservative heartlands too! The Conservative majority is so substantial that it didn’t matter before, but now, with recent defections, a by-election defeat, and UKIP on the scene the political landscape looks rather different!

Is this just smoke and mirrors to make the electorate think that Arun’s Conservatives are on their side by seeking lower housing numbers – whilst quietly pressing ahead later with the higher housing number? (with a heavy heart obviously!). Arun’s Conservatives can then blame the officers, planning inspectorate, their own government, numerous consultants, or anyone else that is handy, when they seek re-election in 2015. Something along the lines of “we didn’t want to do it, but we had no choice”!

It’s interesting to look back at how recent events unfolded.

Only two weeks after the County Council elections the Local Plan Sub-Committee were required to make a recommendation on the Local Plan to Full Council – the most important and controversial element being the housing numbers and strategic locations.

In a knee jerk and highly irresponsible (and populist!) response to the emerging UKIP threat the Leader of the Council proposed the following recommendation:

“That the Council’s Local Plan should allocate 455 homes per annum for the next 6 years only. Further housing provision should be determined by means of review prior to the expiry of that 6 year period.”

Prior to going to the vote, the Assistant Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration sought clarification on the proposal that the Local Plan only covered 6 years with a figure of 425 homes per annum plus 30 homes per annum under the Council’s own house building programme. I got the impression that he couldn’t quite believe what the Leader was up to!

Officers had already made it clear that there was no evidence to support this and that a housing figure of 455 dpa would make the Local Plan unsound.

This recommendation was loyally supported by the Cabinet Member for Planning and the rest of the Leader’s Conservative colleagues on the LPSC.

They spent nine years to arrive at a six year plan – amazing!

Then the following recommendation was passed:

“That the Council’s Local Plan be updated to give effect to the first resolution and be presented to a future meeting of Full Council via the Local Plan Subcommittee. As a consequence the proposed public consultation and publication of the Plan should be suspended and a new timetable proposed.”

The long grass again! 

It is then believed that the Assistant Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration attended the Conservative Group meeting on 21st May 2013 to advise the Conservative Group.

If so, did he give guidance exclusively to the Conservative Group and to the exclusion of other political groups?

…  and Chichester District Council made their feelings known in a letter saying:

“Should Arun Council resolve to agree the approach recommended by the Local Plan Sub-Committee (or adopt a similar approach designed to reduce housing provision below that recommended in the officer report), we consider that the resulting Plan would be likely to fail to meet the Duty to Cooperate requirements and NPPF tests of soundness when submitted for examination. Chichester DC would not wish to raise a formal objection to the Arun Local Plan, but unless your published Plan is supported by clear evidence to justify your approach to housing provision and does not lead to a displaced housing requirement to be met elsewhere in the sub-region, we may find ourselves in this position. This is not a situation that we would welcome and we would therefore hope that Arun Council will support the officer recommendation on housing numbers at the forthcoming Full Council meeting.”

But what could be done to save the careers of the Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning? And to “win” some much needed popularity?

Then on 29th May 2013, Full Council met, in theory, to discuss the recommendation of the Local Plan Sub-Committee.

However, the Cabinet Member for Planning put forward an amendment to his Leader’s original recommendation (which at the time he had supported with enthusiasm!) and this is what was subsequently voted through after an amendment from the opposition groups was defeated:

The Council RESOLVED – that  

(1) the Council’s Local Plan should allocate 455 homes per annum for the next six years thereafter 655 from 2019 for each year to 2028-2029 inclusive;  

(2) strategic allocations be determined in light of the outcome of a review of the SHMA;  

(3) the Council refers these matters to a future meeting of the Local Plan Sub-Committee;  

(4) the sum of up to £100,000 be agreed as a supplementary estimate for the production of studies and other evidence to support the above. This is equivalent to £1.81 on a Band D property of the Council Tax; and  

(5) The Local Plan be treated as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications having regard to the advice in the National Planning Policy Framework. 

Action groups like SAV and VAG have understandably given this a cautious welcome – but they are not daft either! They can work out for themselves what is likely to happen if/when the 655 houses p.a. commences – not too long after the 2015 elections!

In the debate it was interesting to note that almost all opposition members referred to the fact that Ford Airfield had been excluded and should be reconsidered. The Conservatives on the other hand appeared not to have noticed this! It will be interesting to see if the Planning Inspectorate will be more observant?

I can’t help thinking that, once again, Arun’s Conservatives have delayed facing up to their responsibilities, and that their main motivation is to save/prolong the careers of the Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning (the two architects of this farce!), at a price of £100,000 to the taxpayers.

Oh – and to try and “win” some short term popularity! Quick!

It is clear that UKIP are now a threat to the Conservatives. In fact, there are no safe Conservative seats anymore! Arrogance and complacency has been replaced by fear!

Finally, I make no apologies for the political nature of this post. Politics play a major part in the Local Plan and we all need to be mindful of the potential ducking and diving of our local party politicians! I am, by the way, politically independent!

Coastal West Sussex Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) Update November 2012

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Arun District Council, together with the local authorities of Adur, Chichester, Worthing (which together comprise the Coastal West Sussex Sub-Region) along with the South Downs National Park Authority, commissioned consultants, GL Hearn Ltd, to undertake an update to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) 2009. The SHMA which forms part of the evidence base for Local Plans provides an assessment of needs for all types of housing, taking account of demographic projections and the needs of different groups in the community, as well as housing demand and the level of housing supply necessary to meet this demand.

To view the final report click on the following link:


In addition, the consultants prepared individual summary reports for each of the West Sussex districts. To view the Arun District Summary report click on the following link: