THE FINAL barrier to building a transit travellers’ site has been overcome by Chichester District Council.
Since its announcement in November last year, the site has been a source of controversy for residents of Westhampnett, who are overwhelmingly against its construction on district council-owned land at the Westhampnett depot.
However, the council has jumped through all the hoops needed for it to get the go-ahead.
It was recommended by the cabinet, approved by full council, agreement was made for funding from all the other local authorities in West Sussex and a £630,000 grant was awarded towards construction of the £1.3m site from the Homes and Communities Agency.
The final barrier was last Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, which it passed with almost unanimous approval – only councillors Henry Potter of the Boxgrove ward and John Elliott of the Bury ward voting against the majority.
Selsey councillor Fred Robertson abstained, citing ‘positive discrimination in favour of a small section of the community’.
The scheme was recommended for approval by planning officers, but there was nevertheless a lengthy debate on the merits of the site.
West Sussex county councillor for Chichester north, Jeremy Hunt, spoke against the scheme, as well as Bill Harding, vice-chairman of Westhampnett Parish Council, and Mike Hall, Cllr Hunt’s predecessor on the county council.
Prior to the debate, the council’s principal solicitor, Nicola Golding, said: “The law does actually provide that in such circumstances where it’s the landowner, (the council) can in fact determine its own planning application.”
She added that members of the committee were ‘well trained’ and appreciated the need to limit the debate to planning considerations.
The site is due to be in use from March, 2015, onwards and will house nine pitches.