500-home Shopwyke Lakes decision deferred

The view of Shopwyhke Lakes.
The view of Shopwyhke Lakes.

THE first of the ‘big four’ housing sites, seen as key to the district’s emerging local plan, was debated yesterday (Wednesday, April 3).

Chichester district councillors voted to defer the 500-home Shopwyke Lakes plan in the hope a new traffic plan, which did not include the controversial removal of the Oving traffic lights, could be produced.

In general, the plans appeared to be broadly supported.

However, concerns were raised about road safety with 1,872 people signing a petition objecting to proposed changes at the Oving crossroads.

Jonathan Perry, director of Westbourne House School, said the school’s own traffic survey showed far greater traffic at the Oving crossroads than a study by Highways.

Under the current plans, the crossroads would be closed.

Mr Perry said the school would ‘strongly object’ to the closure, describing it as a ‘daft and unsafe’ concept.

He said the school’s report had not appeared in any of the council’s documentation.

Cllr John Ridd, sitting on the committee, said: “It seems to have dropped into a black hole, not for the first time I might add.”

The Highways Agency said the report had been considered, but road use was not outside the expected range.

The committee also heard the site’s portion of affordable housing had dropped from the council’s guideline of 40 per cent to 30 per cent.

Council officer Jeremy Bushell said the scheme was ‘not financially viable’ at 40 per cent because of ‘abnormal’ land restoration costs, including two footbridges over the A27 and changes to the sewage works.

Mark Dunn, West Sussex county councillor for Bourne, spoke in support of the plan saying it could help to stop piecemeal development of greenfield sites around the city.

“It is an imaginative scheme which I think will make a major contribution to the five-year housing supply,” he said.

Officers had recommended the committee approve the plans, the first of the four ‘large strategic housing’ sites identified in the local plan to go before planners. In a report to committee, they said the development would help to meet the ‘significant deficit’ in the council’s five-year housing supply.

Oving Parish Council and the City Council objected to the scheme. Tangmere Parish Council had also raised concerns about the impact on surrounding roads.

A Behind the Headlines feature on the plans, including a full report of the meeting and the debate over the closure of the Oving lights will be published in next week’s Observer (Thursday, April 11).