Inquiry into Bosham 300-homes plan ends

A public inquiry into Chichester District Council’s failure to decide a planning application for 300 homes has ended.
Chichester District CouncilChichester District Council
Chichester District Council

The inquiry into the application for a development north of Highgrove Farm lasted for four days, with a decision from inspector Hayden Baugh-Jones expected by the spring.

The final meeting was held online on Tuesday (October 10), with Stephen Morgan speaking for the council and Martin Carter for applicant Barratt David Wilson (BDW).

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It will be down to Mr Baugh-Jones to decide whether the application should be refused or permitted and whether the council’s reasons for failing to reach a decision were sound.

The first three days of discussions left two main issues on which the two camps could not agree – the impact of the 14.6-hectare development on bats, and contributions to be made to help bring forward improvements along the A27.

There had been more issues on the table but the council accepted a grampain condition in respect of nitrate mitigation.

This essentially means that, if the development is allowed, the mitigation plans would have to be approved before any building work can take place.

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Those mitigation plans centre around planting at Chilgrove Farm.

The inquiry was earlier told that 207 homes could be built at Highgrove Farm without increasing nitrate levels and that heads of terms had been agreed with the owner of Chilgrove Farm to plant woodland on 3.4 hectares of land to mitigate the impact of the other 93 homes.

Mr Morgan said there had been a ‘lack of appropriate and necessary information’ when it came to the impact of increased light levels and loss of habitat on bats – especially the rare barbastelle bat.

He told the inquiry that it would be ‘wholly unrealistic’ to believe that people would abide by any light restrictions which may be placed on their homes.

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He added: “It remains the council’s position that planning permission should not and indeed cannot be granted at this stage.”

As for the A27 contributions, the council wants Barratt David Wilson to pay £11.165m for improvements to the Bognor Road, Whyke, Stockbridge and Fishbourne roundabouts/junctions.

Mr Morgan said: “There is no dispute that the relevant roundabouts are over-capacity and there can be serious congestion.

“There can be no dispute that something needs to be done about this.”

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He added: “A payment to make the development acceptable is clearly necessary and has been accepted to be necessary in principle by [BDW].

“What’s required is directly related to the development given its relationship to the roundabouts and the additional traffic it will be adding to these.”

Mr Morgan told the inspector that if he agreed with the council regarding the bats, then the application must be approved.

If he did not agree, however, then the council would not resist the granting of planning permission provided the A27 contributions were agreed.

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Mr Carter told the inquiry there was ‘an immediate need’ for the type of housing proposed in the application, with the south-west part of the site allocated for development in the emerging Local Plan.

He pointed out that the housing would be in an ‘appropriate and sustainable’ location, had once been recommended for approval by planning officers, and there had been no objections from organisations such as West Sussex Highways and Southern Water.

Mr Carter described the amount of time taken by the council in dealing with the application as ‘inordinately and unnecessarily lengthy’.

And he added that the concerns raised about bats was ‘in reality no more than scepticism over mitigation’ and ‘doesn’t amount to a sound objection to the appeal proposal’.

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The Planning Inspectorate will publish appeal documentation, including copies of representations received, on the Planning Portal website athttps://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/.

To view the application, including appeal documents, log on to publicaccess.chichester.gov.uk and search for 21/00571/FUL.