Villagers defeated as 300 homes plan given green light

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children  Start of Life
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children  Start of Life

PLANS for up to 300 homes at Westhampnett which attracted nearly 200 objections from residents were narrowly given outline approval on Wednesday.

Chichester District Council had identified the land north of Stane Street as a strategic location in its local plan, against the wishes of the parish council.

The council’s planning committee approved the principle of the site accommodating up to 300 homes, community facility and playing fields by a margin of six votes to five.

The finer details will be debated as part of a full planning application at a later date.

One of 171 objectors, resident Jean Hardstaff, said the application would create ‘coalesence’ and turn Chichester into ‘something ordinary like Basingstoke or Milton Keynes’.

She added: “The decision is in your hands. Ignore local opinion and approve this proposal and change Chichester and its local environment forever or have the courage to resfuse this application and request your officers to listen to and work with the parish council to meet the identified housing numbers for Westhampnett.”

The committee discussed the plans for more than three hours, also considering the ‘broad approach’ of the masterplan required for the key location.

Much of the discussion focused on whether councillors believed 300 homes could fit on the site, alongside the requirements for open space.

The outline application represents phase one of development, with the site as a whole earmarked for up to 500 homes. Councillor Simon Oakley said the principle of the homes was established but argued the amount of open space was insufficient.

Officers said indicative images currently showed an unacceptable housing mix, so extra space for open space could possibly be found despite the current scheme meeting all requirements.

Others questioned why homes may be built in a 400 metre buffer zone between the site and the Goodwood motor circuit.

Agents for the applicant reminded councillors of the local plan’s stance on the site, highlighting how the number of homes had been reduced from 350 to 300 homes after consultation.

Bill Hull, representing the parish council, said Westhampnett ‘deserves better’.