More Loxwood homes ‘reluctantly’ approved

Plans for 50 homes in Loxwood have been given somewhat reluctant approval by Chichester District Council.

The application for land behind Pond Copse Lane, was resubmitted by Thakeham Homes Ltd after being refused by the council last September.

An appeal into that decision is due to be considered at a public inquiry on September 29.

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At a meeting of the planning committee on Wednesday (August 12), members were told the inquiry would likely be dropped if the application was approved.

If not, the council could find itself facing up to £100,000 in costs if it lost the appeal – which it was extremely likely to do.

Development manager Tony Whitty said he didn’t think the council had a case to argue and would be seen as ‘acting unreasonably’ if the plans were refused again.

He added: “We need to make sure we are making sound reasons and judgements – not based on whether or not we think this is unfair on the parish.”

One of the main concerns raised by members and objectors was that of the ‘fragile’ state of the sewage system in the area.

A statement from Loxwood Parish Council described how many residents ‘downstream of the site’ had endured sewage overflowing into their gardens and toilets.

The parish council said locals ‘should not be liable to exacerbated conditions due to this development without the necessary infrastructure improvements’.

It was a view shared by Henry Potter (Con, Goodwood), who said he had seen first-hand the misery caused to residents.

Mr Potter called for the council to strengthen one of the conditions on the application – that no work should start until details about the disposal of foul water was put down in writing.

He felt that was not good enough and no work should be started until Southern Water had reinforced the sewage system.

While others agreed, Mr Whitty advised that this was unreasonable and would probably lead to the appeal going ahead.

He told the meeting that Southern Water planned to upgrade the network within two years – and it was very unlikely that anyone would be living on the site before then.

Another concern was the fact the site was not set aside for development in the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan – but was one of ten being considered for inclusion in the revised plan.

Donna Johnson (Local Alliance, Sidlesham & Selsey North) agreed with Peter Wilding (Con, Fernhurst), who said the application ‘completely negates the point of having a Neighbourhood Plan’.

Mrs Johnson said:”This parcel of land may well find its way into the revised plan but it’s not there yet.”

Pointing out the amount of time and money spent on developing Neighbourhood Plans, she added: “It appears as though developers can just come in with another application and we’re supposed to completely ignore it. I’m not prepared to do that. This is premature.”

Mr Whitty advised that the ‘premature’ argument would not hold water with planning inspectors.

The application was approved, with several members saying they did so ‘reluctantly’.

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