DCSIMG

Fighting to stop a ‘done deal’ for site

Bob Holman and Bill Harding of Westhampnett Parish Council presented a petition to Diane Shepherd, chief executive of CDC, in December

Bob Holman and Bill Harding of Westhampnett Parish Council presented a petition to Diane Shepherd, chief executive of CDC, in December

A CONTROVERSIAL travellers’ site continues to anger residents wanting a say in its management.

In December, Chichester District Council approved a nine-pitch, £1.3m transit travellers’ site for its land next to the waste depot at Westhampnett.

The council is now in the process of applying to its own planning department for permission to build.

Councillors said at a parish council meeting on Monday that they wanted to be involved in meetings with potential designers and help them plan.

“We’ve already been told it’s virtually a ‘done deal’,” said Bill Harding, vice-chairman of Westhampnett Parish Council.

“We want to know why are they choosing those people.”

To receive a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency, the council needs to submit an application by the end of March.

It is getting funding approval from all the district and borough councils in West Sussex, as well as the county council, as all will be jointly funding the proposed site.

Cllr Harding told the meeting the parish council submitted a list of 25 questions about the site to the full district council meeting on December 17,

“I don’t think it’s been thought through. If you look at what’s on the district council website, they have actually printed all of our 25 questions and their nearly 25 answers, none of which really stack up,” he said, adding: “It didn’t matter what we said. It was decided.”

A public exhibition on what the proposed site will look like is taking place on Thursday, February 6, from 4pm to 8pm at The March School.

The transit site was announced by Chichester District Council on November 25.

A cabinet meeting on December 3 backed the plan.

Despite a residents’ backlash at a public meeting and a 352-strong petition handed into the council, it was approved at a district council meeting on December 17.

The proposed site is backed by Sussex Police police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne. Westhampnett’s county councillor Jeremy Hunt said he will support the council in any objections it makes to the site.

Last year, the Chichester district had 51 unauthorised encampments, significantly more than anywhere else in West Sussex.

The proposed site, scheduled to be completed in 2015, would see police able to evict illegal encampments and escort them either to the travellers’ site or, if they refused, out of West Sussex.

The Westhampnett depot has been identified as the only suitable location in the county.

 

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