Selsey housing plan is axed

Delighted objectors clapped and cheered as Chichester district councillors voted to throw out bitterly controversial plans for a major new housing development at Selsey.

Residents had originally been left outraged after a vote to refuse the plans for 50 homes in the town was referred by council officers to the Planning Applications Referral Committee (PARC) for a final ruling.

Officers warned there was likely to be a ‘significant’ award of costs against the council if there was an appeal against this decision.

But residents were overjoyed when PARC put an end to the matter by voting to refuse the plans.

Richard Bramall, chairman of Campaigners Against Over-Development In Selsey (CAODIS), said he was absolutely thrilled with the result.

“The extraordinary thing is all planning authorities in Britain, of which there are about 350, Chichester is only one of two to have a Planning Area Referral Committee.

“I think the procedure was complete nonsense.”

Local residents and a Selsey Town Council representative lined up to spell out their opposition to proposals for 50 homes on land at Park Farm Lane. The district council’s southern area development control committee came down in favour of refusing planning permission on March 1: as a result, the decision went to PARC for a final ruling.

Members were told the officers took the view they did because of the absence of a core strategy and of a five-year supply of deliverable housing land.

PARC voted 5-2 to support the development control committee’s recommendation, which was made on the grounds that the site was on open grade one agricultural land outside Selsey’s settlement policy area, and within the Selsey-Pagham strategic gap.

The scale, form and location of the scheme would result in piecemeal housing development within the rural area, and cause significant visual harm.

One resident, Margaret Goodman, said local education and medical facilities were already stretched to breaking point. The development broke generations of planning policy to protect the merger of towns and villages and stop ribbon development.

Another, Chris Lewington, said it would lead to urban sprawl, and be the thin end of the wedge for development of more agricultural land.

Cllr Carol Purnell, a Selsey representative on the district council, urged PARC to ‘allow democracy to win and uphold the committee decision.’ Cllr Fred Robertson also strongly argued for refusal of consent.

During the debate, Cllr John Connor declared: “The necessary infrastructure isn’t there. I am not convinced the existing infrastructure can hope with an increase in housing. It can’t cope now in the popular holiday period.”

But Cllr Andrew Smith said he did not believe the development would compromise the strategic gap, and Cllr Janet Duncton thought this was a good site for development.

Developers Landlink Estates maintained that the site was not in an area at risk of flooding, and was appropriate for development.