Fresh plans to build 35 new homes in Fishbourne

A controversial application to build new homes in Fishbourne has been resubmitted.

Plans for 35 homes on Bethwines Farm, at the land south of Ivy Lodge, Blackboy Lane, were turned down in April. Chichester District Council ruled that developers were unable to justify the need for affordable dwellings in the area.

The proposals had received more than 300 official objections, with fears that the 'beautiful farmland' will be 'irreparably destroyed forever'.

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Among the other reasons for refusal, the district council said the homes would not be a high quality development within the countryside and would result in a 'contrived, overdeveloped and incongruous form of development'.

An application, requesting the construction of 35 'affordable residential dwellings' for first-time buyers at the land south of Ivy Lodge, Blackboy Lane, has been resubmitted. Photo: Fishbourne Developments Limited

Having now resubmitted the application, Fishbourne Developments Ltd said this was a 'prime opportunity' that should be taken to 'boost low cost housing'.

The application added: "The pipeline supply across the district stands at just 1.6 years, and in a part of the district where there is believed to be no pipeline of discount market sale housing available.

"Housing needs are rising in Chichester and the council has acknowledged that there is a risk that they will not be able to continue to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and therefore there is a need to boost housing delivery in the short-term."

The developers said the new homes would 'assist to positively redress' challenges facing the district, 'in terms of affordable housing delivered to meet local needs'.

They said the proposals would also 'reduce barriers of access' to housing and 'help to overcome affordability constraints'.

The planning documents added: "The proposed development represents a high quality scheme, which will make a positive contribution to the area and will result in a wide range of positive economic, social and environmental impacts."

According to Fishbourne Parish Council, the decision to resubmit the application left residents 'amazed'.

During a remotely-held planning meeting this week, parish councillors described the plans as being 'in the wrong location, offering the wrong type of housing and doing so at the wrong time'.

"The 400 responses to our village survey showed how much people care about the quality of life in our village,” parish council chairman Geoff Hand said. “Preserving the rural nature of the village and maintaining its identity as a separate village topped their priorities.

"There is much public concern that this application could be the first part of a piecemeal development which could in time overlap the parish boundary with Bosham regardless of the ecological and environmental damage this would cause including the impairment of the intervisibility of the Chichester Harbour and the South Downs National Park."

Councillor Hand warned that individual objections were not automatically carried forward on the Chichester District Council website, 'so all those who objected last time will need to resubmit them'.

Adrian Moss, district councillor for Harbour Villages Ward, said the application is 'almost identical' to the previous proposals.

He added: "The Bethwins Farm site has been contentious for a number of years and the village has not as yet seen an application on this site that they are willing to support.

"The developer has failed to reach out to discuss the best options and this really feels as if it is speculative.

"The previous application was refused on the grounds that it did not comply as a Entry Level Exception Site.

"If the developer really wishes to build an Entry Level Exception Site of affordable houses for local people then he needs to discuss this with the local councillors, parish council and relevant council officers."

Councillor Moss said there are a number of other applications for sites in Fishbourne, Hambrook and Nutbourne East.

"Across my ward we currently have a number of speculative applications that are coming forward due to a lack of a five year housing land supply and our local plan being out of date," he said.

"It is incumbent on myself as the local councillor to ensure we protect our villages against over development and ensure we have sustainable communities.

"I will continue to look at all applications with an open mind; listening to the views of my residents and balancing that with the views of the council officers.”

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