Scuba diving lagoon plan for Hambrook

A controversial planning application for a scuba diving lagoon has been re-submitted.

The plans for the lagoon at the Hairspring Watercress farm in Hambrook were withdrawn in April last year, but have now been re-designed.

A big concern raised by the Environment Agency was the height of the banks holding the water in the lagoon.

In the new application the banks will be just 1m high to hold back any waves. Other concerns by objectors was what pollution would be caused by the water flow system. Originally it water was to be cleaned through flowing water from the boreholes at the watercress farm, into the lagoon and out into a stream.

But it will now have an internal filter.

Another major talking point was how visitors would access the site. They have been given permission to use the bridleway off Broad Road by the Highways Agency.

The previous application was withdrawn in April last year just before it was to be heard by the planning committee as the son of the applicant Richard Scales, whose idea it was, was stuck in Egypt because of the volcanic ash cloud.

He said: “We decided to pull out, retrospectively it was a blessing in disguise because we still had so much work to do with the Environment Agency.

“We are no longer going to have water flowing into it and out of it. It’s going to have an internal filter, and it’s no longer going to have a bank around it, it’s at ground level.”

The fact it is at ground level means four it will be 14m in depth rather than the original 18m.

Mr Scales, and his father also called Richard who runs the farm, have realised for some time that the it needed to diversify to survive.

Mr Scales junior had the spark of inspiration when looking out at the empty field on a day when a diving trip was cancelled because of the weather.

He is well aware of the need for a facility in the area after the Ministry of Defence closed access to the inland diving facility at Horsea Island in Portsmouth two years ago.

“My parents are still propping up the farm,” he said. “There’s never been a more pressing need to do something.

“We cannot carry on like this. It’s going to grind to a halt when the money runs out.

“We need to do something with the resources we have got.”

To comment on the application write to Chichester District Council quoting the application number CHSB/11/00257/FUL. Comments should be made before March 16.