Crooked Mead appeal underway

PLANNERS went head-to-head with a local landowner in a legal battle over the use of land.

An inquiry has been launched into an application to keep storage containers and cars for sale on land at Crooked Mead Farm.

The ongoing dispute led to an appeal this week and an application for a lawful development certificate, with a decision expected in the next few weeks.

Jimmy Sullivan, 53, from Chichester, who has been the owner of the Crooked Mead Farm site, just off the A27, since 1993, maintains the northern part of the land has been consistently used over the past ten years as a separate planning unit.

But Chichester District Council (CDC) said the site had not been consistently used as a separate planning unit.

Mr Sullivan said part of the site had been used to store seven roll-on, roll-off and general storage containers, as well as for the storing and selling of motor vehicles and plant, for more than ten years.

During the complex debate on Tuesday (March 5) at Council House, planning consultant Phil Rowe, acting on behalf of Mr Sullivan, highlighted what he believed were a number of discrepancies and questioned the credibility of some of the council’s photographic evidence. He accused the council of ‘cherry picking what was on site and what was not’, which CDC denied.

Among the evidence presented by CDC was a variety of aerial images taken of the site over a ten-year period, and council officers’ site visit reports.

“It doesn’t fit together. The council’s records don’t support the use concerned, so the application is not precise in its description of what is deemed to be happening,” said Shona Archer, enforcement officer at the district council.

She said over a decade, the site had been used for the dismantling of lorries, storage of engines, the storage and sale of a tank, coaches and storage of lorry bodies.

“It has been the council’s case throughout that we do not accept this application site can be considered as a separate planning unit,” added Gwion Lewis, on behalf of CDC. “If this area is to be considered a separate planning unit, we will need to be satisfied there is functional and physical separation between this site and the remainder of the land – in light of the evidence today, that is clearly not the case.”

The appeal was heard by planning inspector Simon Hand, who is expected to return a decision this month.