Urgent talks sought as council defers major Chichester homes plan

Whitehouse Farm development
Whitehouse Farm development

Plans for a major Chichester housing development were put on hold this afternoon after a four-hour marathon meeting (Thursday, September 8).

Urgent talks between Chichester District Council and developers Linden and Miller Homes will be sought in response to issues raised over the 750-home development at Whitehouse Farm.

Significant concerns over access were today voiced by numerous residents’ associations, district and county councillors, leading to CDC’s planning committee to unanimously defer a decision on the plans.

Clare Apel, district councillor for Chichester West, said: “The city’s future is in your hands and your hands alone. Imagine the effect of ten years of construction traffic on roads that are not designed to bear such traffic, past residents whose lives will be unbearable.”

The application site, land west of Old Broyle Road, is one of CDC’s main strategic housing sites in its local plan.

It is earmarked for a total of 1,600 homes, to be delivered in two phases.

Outline plans for the first phase were before the committee, with all matters reserved – such as layout – apart from access.

But that was the bone of contention for objectors, who felt a single, northern access point off Old Broyle Road, was inadequate.

They called for a southern access to be opened before housebuilding started, instead of starting later down the line.

This, they argued, would provide a shorter route for construction traffic, minimise pollution and avoid passing four schools.

Planning officers, however, said was ‘no evidence’ to justify its need, adding the wording of the local plan followed the developer’s approach.

Despite this, the developers advised they were committed to delivery of a southern access ‘as soon as possible’.

County council leader Louise Goldsmith, speaking in her capacity as Chichester West ward member, called on the committee to dismiss the access plans.

She said: “Today you have a decision about a significant extension to this magnificent city, on a seriously fraught premise that an access to 750 homes is viable via a northern access.

“I assure you this is not nimbyism but a genuine plea to think very hard before you take that crucial vote. The question before you is simply ‘is this planning application asking too much of the residents’? Does this city and its wonderful residents deserve better?”

Agents for the developers requested a lunchtime adjournment to discuss the way forward.

But after a 15-minute adjournment, the committee officially deferred the matter.

Chairman Bob Hayes said: “We hoped we would quickly find a way forward but felt, upon reflection, that a little bit of time to consider things would be better.”

The four-hour meeting was packed by scores of residents, with the public gallery spilling across three sides of the committee room.