Kirdford Parish Council ‘enraged’ by housing availability report

A parish council has been left ‘enraged’ by a report which identifies swathes of agricultural land as having potential for development.
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Kirdford Parish Council said the latest Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA), by Chichester District Council, was published ‘without any regard’ for existing Neighbourhood Plans.

The HELAA consists of a list of sites that may have the potential to accommodate housing and employment between now and 2037.

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Overall in the Chichester district, the 2020 HELAA identifies 190 sites with development potential and capacity for, in theory, 26,383 dwellings – 18,466 more than in the previous report, which was published in 2018.

A council spokesman said that, just because a site was included on the list, it did not mean it would necessarily be identified for development by the council.

The HELAA identifies potential capacity for 242 new dwellings in Kirdford, for 1,157 in Loxwood and 795 in Plaistow and Ifold.

Kirdford Parish Council said: “The wrong houses in the wrong place helps no one.

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“These villages have little infrastructure to support this level of growth and even less appetite to see our farmland concreted over.

“The ecological impact of a development of this size in a confined area is immense.”

Pointing out that Chichester District Council had formally declared a climate emergency in July 2019, the parish council said: “This is a time we should be taking care of our countryside, and it is through the Neighbourhood Plans that parishes intend to achieve this...

“The government needs to put in place some safeguards to ensure that rural communities are not expected to grow more than a small percentage of existing Settlement Areas.”

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The spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment is a high level technical assessment which includes many different potential sites across the Local Plan area that have been put forward to the council.

“However, while a site may be included in the HELAA, it doesn’t mean it will necessarily be identified for development by the council.

“The purpose of undertaking a comprehensive review of land is to ensure that only the most sustainable sites are taken forward for allocation in the Local Plan Review or in Neighbourhood Plans.

“The Local Plan timetable is under formal review, but it is anticipated that the final plan will not be adopted until 2022, following an independent examination.”