Residents have banded together to protect their village from unsuitable development and flooding.
Birdham residents were galvanised to form a residents’ association following recent flooding, which saw extensive damage to properties, with some homes still uninhabitable.
More than 130 residents packed the village hall to agree setting up the association.
“The unprecedented turn-out saw nine volunteers put themselves forward for the Birdham Village Residents’ Association committee and over 100 households immediately backed the forming of the association,” said committee member Sarah Grant.
Addressing the meeting, resident David Williams called upon the village to unite around issues such as housing development, flooding, the future of the primary school and traffic volumes.
“The village is seen as an easy target for developers because it lacks a cohesive, community-endorsed neighbourhood plan and a vocal, evidence-backed residents’ association – it’s as if developers have been given a green light to build before we’ve had a chance to develop a village-backed plan,” he said.
The meeting heard a development of 46-plus homes had recently been proposed for the village, despite the site, off Church Lane, being severely flooded in recent months.
Chairman-elect of the BVRA Laurie Pocock said: “Under Chichester District Council’s own Interim Policy Statement on Housing Facilitating Appropriate Development, this scale of development is inappropriate in Birdham.
“The policy clearly states criteria for development should ensure ‘the scale of the development is appropriate to the settlement – no more than 25 units adjoining any part of the Settlement Policy Areas in the south of the district’.
“Why are Seawards even considering building on a field that is a valuable natural soakaway, frequently floods and when flooded affects neighbouring properties and land beyond the church?”
The association created a draft mission to retain the character of the village of Birdham, ensure all development in Birdham protects itself against flooding and has an evidence-based, zero-impact on existing settlement and inform and explain the issues to local residents.
Mrs Grant said poor drainage infrastructure, congested roads on the Manhood Peninsular, potential overcrowding at the school and increased traffic through the village were also high on the agenda. The association is planning on setting up a website and leafleting to encourage Birdham residents to have their say.