Planning committee to consider Westhampnett transit travellers’ site

Westhampnett depot. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Westhampnett depot. Picture by Kate Shemilt

THE FINAL barrier to a transit travellers’ site in Westhampnett looks set to be overcome on Wednesday (April 30).

However, it still faces opposition from campaigners, who say it could breach a United Nations convention.

The proposed £1.3m site at the Westhampnett depot, in Stane Street, has already been offered a grant of £630,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency for its construction.

Chichester District Council’s planning committee is due to consider the application at its next meeting, with planning officers recommending it is permitted.

The application has come before the planning committee for scrutiny as it has been submitted by the council itself, which has taken the lead in providing a site in West Sussex. It has the support of the county council and all the other district and borough councils, which would jointly finance it.

Police have also expressed support, with the creation of a site allowing them to use powers under the Criminal Justice Act to
 move on illegal encampments.

If traveller groups from anywhere in West Sussex refuse to go to the nine-pitch site at Westhampnett, they would have to leave the county or face arrest.

Westhampnett Parish Council opposed the scheme from the beginning, handing in a 352-signature petition to the district council at full council.

The parish council opposes the site on several grounds including:

- Site contamination, as the area has been used as a depot, the parish said the ground may have been contaminated by fuel spillage and storage of materials such as asbestos.

- Foul and surface water drainage issues from the site, which it said would exacerbate existing problems.

- Residents’ concerns about the site’s construction.

- The location of the site next to a tip and waste disposal site, which the parish said was unsuitable.

The parish council also claims that CDC’s proposal contravenes aspects of the United Nations’ convention on rights of the child, such as freedom from discrimination, right to survival and health and protection from harmful influences.

However, CDC’s environmental health officer had no objection to the site with regard to ‘contaminated land or air quality issues’, but said ground conditions should be investigated and ‘appropriate remediation’ put in place where necessary, and any asbestos discovered should be disposed of appropriately.

The district council added the tip was licensed by the Environment Agency, which required continuous monitoring to prevent ‘dangerous odours or fumes emanating form the site’.

“Additionally, numerous other residential properties are located within close proximity to the site, together with the number of employees that work daily on the waste transfer site, without any ill effects,” it said.

The meeting is due to start at 10am at East Pallant House.