A momentous public inquiry into plans to build 52 acres of glasshouses in Almodington has finally arrived, giving residents and community groups one last chance to fend them off.
It is now crunch time for groups such as The Almodington Association (TAA) and the Manhood Wildlife Heritage Group (MWHG), who have spent many months building up to this inquiry.
Residents and other community groups packed the district council’s East Pallant office to listen to the inquiry, which is set to last until March 18.
“The people who live and work on the peninsula and who look after it want a future in which they continue to play a part and have a stake in what happens,” said Dr Jill Sutcliffe, from the MWHG.
“We consider that the proposal would contribute nothing to the future vision we envisage for the peninsula and would urge the inspector to turn it down.”
She also said building the glasshouses would harm directly and indirectly rare species, in particular the water vole.
The public inquiry was launched after Madestein appealed against Chichester District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the glasshouses to be built, to grow lettuce at Easton Farm, Almodington Lane.
TAA, which raised £100,000 to be legally represented at the inquiry, also criticised the plans.
Christopher Katkowski QC, representing Madestein, said in his opening statement: “As the council’s planning officer rightly recognised, it is inevitable that a scheme of this nature – which is necessarily large-scale because of real-world commercial realities – would have some adverse impacts.
“Yes there would be visual and landscape impacts (but these would reduce over time), yes there would be more HGVs (but the actual number would be modest).”
He then went on to quote a planning officer at the council, who said ‘the economic benefits are strong and are considered to be overriding’. The district council has urged the planning inspector to dismiss the appeal.