A VISION for a development of 500 homes in Westhampnett has been branded as ‘crazy’.
The draft concept statement by Chichester District Council – another landmark in the local plan process – outlines a ‘planned expansion’ of Chichester city in the area.
But Bill Harding, vice chairman of Westhampnett Parish Council, said he fears the village will lose its identity.
“We’re being pushed around in the most undemocratic way that I can imagine.
“It is crazy. This is what we’ve been saying from the beginning. You can’t do what you’re proposing and not lose Westhampnett. We no longer have any say.”
Residents fear the two developments – at Old Place Farm and on land between Stane Street and Madgwick Lane – would ‘destroy’ the parish by linking it to Chichester. The vision statement considers the ‘planned expansion’ of Chichester city, branding the two sites as ‘integrated extensions to Westhampnett village and Graylingwell neighbourhood’.
“They call it north-east Chichester,” said Cllr Harding. “It’s not, it’s an individual little village and it’s been around for a long, long time.”
Future residents of the site can expect ‘new community facilities’ including sports areas, small-scale retail, allotments, a new community hall for Westhampnett and improved cycle routes.
Speaking at a Chichester District Council cabinet meeting, Cllr Tony Dignum said: “We should be doing all we can to encourage cycling.”
However, the draft concept statement makes no mention of new schools or doctors’ surgeries to lessen the burden on existing facilities.
High hopes for affordable homes in the district are also diminished. The concept statement said there will be a ‘mix of housing’ to combat ‘affordability issues’ and attract younger households.
However, of the 500 homes, only 30 per cent – 150 homes – will be affordable. Of those 150 homes, 105 will be rented, leaving only 45 homes available for first-time buyers and young families hoping to get on the property ladder. But if the first site of 350 homes is approved before the local plan goes through, it will have to meet the current council standards of 40 per cent affordable homes, bringing the total to 185 – 129.5 homes to rent and 55.5 to buy.
“Everybody knows we need affordable homes,” said Cllr Harding. “My only question to do with the whole project is who are all the people that are going to live there?”
He added there should be affordable homes for local people.
It was originally suggested no work could take place until after 2019, when it is hoped expansion work at Tangmere treatment works will be complete. But a time frame is not mentioned in the statement.