SEWAGE fears are top of the list of worries for residents anxious about more than 1,000 new Chichester homes.
The draft concept statement for Whitehouse Farm, where 1,000 homes are projected to be built in Chichester District Council’s local plan, was recently published.
However, it has already sparked worry, with people pointing out inconsistencies between the statement and the local plan.
“We’re concerned about the fact the developer is pushing for an on-site private sewage system,” said Richard Plowman, chairman of FLAWED (For Localism Against Western Edge Development), describing it as a ‘relatively untried and untested method’.
“You can just imagine what would happen if something went wrong with that. The whole site is very environmentally sensitive.”
Policy 3.35 of the emerging local plan states the district should ‘ensure good wastewater pipework and sufficient sewage capacity is available for both our existing and proposed housing’.
However, the council’s concept statement refers to possible on-site waste water treatment.
“The Environment Agency view is that a connection to a mains system is always the most sustainable and certain way of dealing with waste water from a development,” Mr Plowman added.
The district council’s cabinet is due to consider the concept statement at a meeting today (July 8).
The statement considers a total of 1,600 homes on the site – 1,000 of which would be built between 2014 and 2029.
“We’re asking the cabinet to say for the concept statement to go back to what they’re saying in the original local plan – that it should have mains treatment.
“We can’t understand why there’s a rush to put this in other than the developer sees this as a way of getting round the system.”
If the Whitehouse Farm site were to be connected to the mains, this could not happen until 2019, when capacity is due to be increased at the Tangmere Wastewater Treatment Works, but Mr Plowman believes by getting an on-site provision, Miller Homes could start work on the homes sooner.
“There’s been a great rush to get a concept statement and the planner is doing a master plan,” he said. “It’s all going very fast.”
A public meeting on the new homes is being held by Miller Homes on July 15 at Vicars’ Hall, Chichester Cathedral.
UPDATE - July 9, 2014
The Observer has received a statement from Miller Homes and Linden Homes in response to the article that was published online and in this week’s paper (July 3).
A spokesman said: “With the water treatment works at Appledrum and Tangmere approaching capacity Albion Water will be operating a mains sewage works planned for the southern end of the site.
“Treatment works will be carried out at higher than the national required standard and will have capacity for the entire proposed 1,600 homes development.
“Albion Water runs a similar facility at Knowle Village in Fareham and it is known as an ‘inset agreement’ which is permitted by Ofwat under Section 6 of the Water Industry Act 1991.
“The existing properties at Whitehouse Farm and New Cottages on Newlands Lane are currently not on the mains system and will be offered the opportunity to be connected to the new water treatment infrastructure being built as part of the development.”