Casting vote decides Portfield homes plans

The Portfield site.''C121554-1 Chi Portfield Football Site  Photo Louise Adams ENGSUS00120121114133035
The Portfield site.''C121554-1 Chi Portfield Football Site Photo Louise Adams ENGSUS00120121114133035

PLANS for 80 homes on the former Portfield football ground site were narrowly approved today – despite considerable concerns from councillors and residents (Wednesday, September 16).

The application, proposed by Chichester District Council, was rejected in January but resubmitted for reconsideration after attempting to respond to issues with inadequate parking.

Despite several councillors expressing their worries about high density of homes, lack of open space and remaining parking problems, the plans were approved – but only on the chairman’s casting vote after votes for and against were tied.

Speaking against the application, chairman of the Westhampnett and Church Road residents’ association Lynne Friel said: “These homes are sorely needed but that is not an excuse for town cramming. Chichester can do better than this.”

The latest application was outline plans, asking for an extension to permission granted in 2010 which had lapsed. The original application was also approved on a chairman’s casting vote.

Councillors this time were, in one member’s own words, ‘straightjacketed’ by what they could consider.

Officers warned the principle of 80 homes was established in 2010. Councillor Simon Oakley countered this, stating it was a new committee which could form its own opinion.

But councillor Tricia Tull said she would have been happy to approve a time extension to the application but was uncomfortable with the number of homes proposed

Councillor Mark Dunn said: “I find that it isn’t good enough. I can understand the pressure to provide for more housing to meet the pressing needs. However, Chichester is a wonderful city. It is one of the most important medieval walled cities in the UK and probably Europe. It has a quality to it and is irreplaceable.

“If we degrade it by squeezing in housing to a lower standard I think we shall never be forgiven.”

The committee vote was split, with six for, six against , with chairman Bob Hayes voting in favour. A group of objecting residents described their emotions afterwards as ‘shock and consternation’