Bognor Regis Herald

Jan Cosgrove
3 min readAug 8, 2023

Some facts and stats about the housing market in Arun, based on the 2022 ‘housing absorption study’

by Derrick Chester, Arun District Matters

Concerning the District of Arun in West Sussex:

- of a population of 161,224, 36% are over 60;

- most inward migration comes from other areas of Sussex, then London, then Surrey. 2017–2020 3470 from Sussex, 1100 from London and 641 from Sussex;

- 2/3 of net inward migration are people aged 50–74. The next biggest group people in 20s returning from Uni;

- despite higher rates of inward migration than average Aruns economy grows more slowly than average. The biggest employment sectors by far wholesale, retail, hospitality and health;

- despite house prices being lower in Arun District than surrounding areas housing is more unaffordable to the resident population than in those areas due to substantially lower wages;

- In Arun 75% of people own a home, or pay a mortgage, 16% private rent and 9% social rent, the English average 65% own, 17% private rent and 16% social rent;

- house prices in Arun have risen 150% since 2015.
- average house sales in Arun totalled 3572 per annum between 1998 and 2021;

- In 2016 new build sales accounted for 18% of sales compared to just 4% in 2021.

The housing absorption study by Arun failed to demonstrate what many wanted it to which was that the current housing targets simply cannot be absorbed by the market, mainly due to the fact that it was carried out before several of the large strategic housing sites were all delivering new builds at the same time, so the evidence was not there to come to that conclusion. However it did demonstrate that problems with infrastructure delivery was probably the biggest factor in holding back those sites being delivered, rather than as some suspect developers deliberately limiting what they release each year. But this doesn’t explain why in Littlehampton the strategic site north of the Town (1200 homes) has only been delivering about 70 a year.

I take different conclusions from the experts as a result of all this evidence, they suggest that testing an even higher housing target is necessary to even come close to actual delivery of 1,000 a year. My conclusions are:

(1) It will never be possible to build enough homes in Arun to try and lower house prices enough to practically address the massive housing need in our own District.

(2) The only way to address that is through housing for social rent or a much more interventionist approach to facilitating home ownership.

(3) Infrastructure requirements cannot be wished away just because they are slowing housing delivery without making life for existing residents a living hell.

(4) The primary beneficiary of high housing targets in Arun District are those living in surrounding areas in higher value properties who are selling up to get more for their money.

(5) Whilst there has been some progress on securing better paid jobs on a small scale with initiatives like the faculty of engineering at Bognor Regis campus of the Uni of Chi and the Rolls Royce factory near Hunston in practice the areas primary employment areas will be as it is now. It is noticeable that on sites earmarked for employment land in the Local Plan incoming businesses tend to be warehousing and delivery (Amazon, Warburtons etc), drive through food and the like. Hospitality and tourism presents huge opportunity but we need to be much more focused on the areas attractions rather than viewing every piece of land outside the National Park as developable.

(6) In understanding that primary employment areas are retail, hospitality and health, especially care, our training and educational opportunities for those of all ages needs to focus on those sectors and excellence, driving up standards, productivity and then possibly pay.



Jan Cosgrove

National Secretary of Fair Play for Children, Also runs Bognor Regis Herald online. Plus runs British Music Radio online