High hopes Chichester can fight ‘unsustainable’ housing development in the district

Hopes are high that the area around Chichester Harbour will be protected from ‘unsustainable’ housing development thanks to news that land for housing in the district for the new five years has been identified.

The Chichester Harbour Trust has said it welcomed the announcement by Chichester District Council last week that a five-year land supply for the district has now been secured.

In in statement it said it hoped the news ‘will help protect this vulnerable area from the unprecedented levels of speculative planning applications that we have witnessed in the past year’.

As previously reporter by The Observer there have been a number of delays to the council’s local plan process, the development blueprint for the area, and developers have recently lodged numerous ‘speculative’ applications in places such as Chidham & Hambrook and East Wittering.

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Although a number of these have been refused by CDC as the local planing authority, several are set to go to appeal.

But the council announced it can demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, which will strengthen its case when turning down inappropriate development and defending any refusals at appeal.

The Harbour trusts has welcomed the news, also has also expressed delighted that other important environmental issues in the area were now being addressed.

In a statement the trust said: “We are also pleased to see that the some of the sensitive issues around water quality in the Harbour are being addressed through the new Statement of Common Ground with Southern Water and the Environment Agency, with a new position statement in place for the Thornham waste water treatment works.

“We are reassured that Macquarie, the new owners of Southern Water, have told us of new immediate improvements to Southern Water plant and equipment, and future expansion plans for water treatment capacity.

“Likewise, it is good news that CDC has agreed a five-year funding package for the Strategic Wildlife Corridors project to protect and enhance the crucial links between the coast and South Downs, and is refocusing on brownfield sites.

“For the first time, the statement released by CDC last week goes some way to addressing many of the concerns raised by the Chichester Harbour Trust and our partner organisations throughout the Harbour community, and reflects many of the challenges and issues that we have been campaigning on.

“However, we will be following the progress of the Local Plan to see how these initiatives are executed and translated into action to protect the Harbour.

“It is still unclear what level of housing development that the district will need to deliver, and it is becoming increasingly clear to everyone that the 12,500 allocated by Government is completely unsustainable for this heavily-constrained district. It is also vital that the narrow corridor of land between the South Downs National Park and Chichester Harbour AONB is protected. There needs to be a stop to the connection of new developments to the sewage system where there is no capacity.”

John Nelson, chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, added: “We at the Trust, together with our supporters and local communities, will be following closely over the coming period to see that these initiatives translate into a revised Local Plan in July that will reflect the exceptional challenges and needs facing this unique area. We must protect the beauty, biodiversity and water quality of Chichester Harbour and we will be keeping up the pressure to achieve this.”