'Perfect storm' of overdevelopment as 300 homes approved near Chichester
The application from Barratt David Wilson Homes, for land north of Highgrove Farm, was the subject of an inquiry last month after Chichester District Council failed to decide whether to allow or refuse the plans.
Reams of evidence was submitted to the inquiry, with concerns raised about everything from over-development and the pressures being placed on already stretched infrastructure, to the impact such a development would have on nitrate levels in Chichester Harbour.
But inspector Hayden Baugh-Jones found in favour of the applicant, saying the development would cause no harms to Conservation Areas, Special Areas of Conservation or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mr Baugh-Jones also disagreed with suggestions from the council that the application was premature.
He said: “The site occupies a suitable location and I have not found any unacceptable harms that would result from its proposed development.
“Moreover, there is a need for housing in the district given the council’s housing land supply position and on the basis of all that, I see no reason to hold up the development of the site for reasons of prematurity.”
The council does not have the required five-year supply of housing land, a fact which stands against it when it comes to appeals.
Mr Baugh-Jones added: “I realise that this decision will come as a disappointment to many local residents.
“However, as I have set out, there are no compelling reasons not to allow the development to go ahead.”
‘Disappointment’ was certainly the feeling among members of the Chichester Harbour Trust.
A spokesman said that allowing the appeal, alongside a recent decision to allow 200 homes to be built in Chidham and Hambrook, created a ‘perfect storm of over-development’ in an area of ‘highly sensitive protected landscape’.
While the inspector acknowledged the need for nutrient off-setting, Trust members were unhappy that not enough was being done to address well-known problems with the sewage system.
John Nelson, chair of the Trust said: “The planning decisions in the context of the environmental damage to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are completely inexplicable.
“There is no doubt that this over-development, without the provision of proper infrastructure, is leading to an existential crisis for the Harbour, that we seem powerless to stop.
“As we have argued before common sense must prevail.”
Mr Nelson added: “We at the Trust call for a long-overdue overhaul by government of the national planning system to prevent the ongoing environmental degradation of our precious natural areas, both in the Harbour and nationally.
“Our elected representatives have completely failed to act on this.
“Time is running out.”