Authority steps out of debate on Lavant gap

BITTERLY controversial proposals to build 92 homes in the sensitive countryside gap between Chichester and Lavant will not be opposed by the South Downs National Park Authority.

A final decision on an application by Taylor Wimpey for the development, at Keepers Wood, off Lavant Road, Lavant, will be made by Chichester District Council.

Strong local objections are being made to the scheme, which many people fear will erode the gap between city and village, which could eventually disappear, creating a single conurbation.

The park authority’s planning committee voted to approve an officer’s recommendation not to raise an objection to the application.

But it also made several recommendations to the district council including:

- Consideration of the ‘appropriate use’ of landscaping, external lighting, highway materials and external materials to minimise any landscape character impact.

- That the park authority be consulted regarding the appropriate distribution of infrastructure contributions and number of affordable homes within the local community.

- Consideration of the impact of the proposed development on water quality and foul drainage within Lavant.

A report presented to the authority’s planning committee by its officers said the site was within 0.4km of the national park. It was visible from within the park, and particularly from The Trundle.

But due to the distance between, the immediate flat topography, and the locally intervening vegetation, it was not considered the scheme would have a significant detrimental impact on the landscape character of the park.

In addition, due to the presence of affordable housing within the scheme, which would benefit the needs of communities within the national park, the proposal would not adversely affect the purposes and duty of the park.

The authority’s decision is likely to dismay campaigners against the development.

More than 200 letters of objection have been received by Chichester District Council against the plans.

Writing on behalf of the West Lavant Residents Association, chairman Richard Hancock said: “We are residents of a hamlet which falls within the parish of Lavant and we feel strongly that Lavant should retain its own identity and not become an extension of Chichester.”

In their objection, members of The Chichester Society raised concerns about intrusion into the strategic gap, a lack of ‘high- quality design’ in some aspects and increased traffic.

Writing on behalf of the executive committee, John Pavitt said: “To sum up, we consider the proposed development of this land would be detrimental to both Chichester and Lavant without balancing benefits.

“We strongly urge the council to reject the application and to consider this area and its future in the emerging local plan.”

The application is due to be decided on November 23.