Battle over Fishbourne farmland homes bid

Bethwines Farm, Fishbourne CONTRIBUTED PIC SUS-140519-114205001
Bethwines Farm, Fishbourne CONTRIBUTED PIC SUS-140519-114205001

STRONG opinions have been voiced by Fishbourne residents battling against greenfield development proposals.

A public consultation for plans to build 25 or 71 houses was held on Thursday by Iceni Projects – who are representing Fishbourne Development Ltd.

Residents, some of whom have mounted a campaign against the development on Bethwines Farm, turned out in force to see the designs and talk to the planners.

Councillor Simon Carr, who represents Fishbourne on Chichester District Council, said: “We are not saying they can’t build here at all. We have to accept that building has to take place.

“But this wasn’t the area we have chosen. We have just submitted our neighbourhood plan with specified areas for development. I think we are fairly amenable.

“The whole localism agenda means we have to be in control of what takes place.”

Cllr Carr said the village was ‘sandwiched’ between the national park and the harbour conservancy – leaving just a ‘strip’ of land which is open to developers. More than 200 people visited the Fishbourne Centre in Blackboy Lane to view the plans.

Fishbourne resident Louise Goldsmith, who is also leader of West Sussex County Council, commented on 
the plans.

“I’m deeply troubled,” she said. “I have always seen this area as a green space or green boundary.

“What we have to think about is the sustainability. This is farming land. We need that defining break between Fishbourne and Bosham.”

Cllr Goldsmith said the neighbourhood plan ‘needs support’ because it represents the ‘view of the community’.

Residents also voiced concerns about the name of the London-based developers – Fishbourne Development Ltd – believing it implied the company had a link to the village.

Michael Stevenson has worked with flood prevention in the village for more than 30 years. He said the biggest problem of development was drainage, after Fishbourne being hit hard by flooding in 2012.

“There isn’t the capacity downstream to take any more water,” he said.

James Waterhouse, director of planning at Iceni Projects, said the event was ‘well publicised’.

“There has been a big turnout because this is a development in the local community.

“The reality of the situation is that Chichester as a district has not delivered enough housing.”

The plans are set to be submitted to the district council by the end of June.