Chidham orchard campaigners gather to oppose homes

The group of more than 50 protesters who are trying to save the ancient orchard
The group of more than 50 protesters who are trying to save the ancient orchard

A CROWD of protesters gathered outside an ancient orchard in Chidham in a fight to save it from being turned into housing.

More than 50 people, including local schoolchildren, got together to try to rally support for their campaign to preserve Maybush Orchard.

The orchard is situated in the Chichester Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Developer Orchard Homes’ application to build 25 houses on the site was rejected by Chichester Council in May last year, but it is challenging that decision at appeal.

Currently permission for 87 houses in Chidham and Hambrook has been given the green light since 2014.

That is significantly higher than the indicative housing number of 25 for the parish in the draft local plan and an appeal for a development of 25 houses nearby is already under way.

A spokesman for the campaigners said: “The site is a traditional orchard, a priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan Habitat for many red-list bird species, bats and insects.

“It is also a significant green corridor adjacent to Maybush Copse and important for migrants to the harbour area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).”

Campaigners trying to save the tranquil orchard from development warn that granting the appeal would urbanise an important gateway to the AONB and threaten the wider Chichester Harbour area.

Concerns have also been raised about sustainability, drainage and road safety.

Concerned individuals have just one day left to write to the planning inspectorate case officer before Friday’s deadline. Quote reference APP/L3815/W/14/3000573 at The Planning Inspectorate, 3/10a Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN.