Demands for a drastic reduction in new housebuilding numbers being considered for the Chichester district’s southern area were made at a public meeting.
Dire warnings were given about the prospect of a dramatic impact not only on the historic city and its surroundings, but on Goodwood’s airfield and motor circuit, with the danger of development stretching right across these up to the boundary of the National Park in the future.
The meeting was organised by the city council for local people to give their views on possible housing numbers and locations put forward by the district council for public consultation.
And options for numbers ranging from 305 to 415 new homes a year came under fire, with some speakers calling for no more than 200.
The meeting approved a resolution expressing ‘extreme concern’ at the approach adopted by the district council during the consultation period, declaring it reflected a ‘deficit of democratic engagement.’
This was moved by Richard Cole, chairman of the Chichester Residents’ Associations Co-ordinating Group, who said the consultation process had been lamentable. He claimed 200 a year was the best figure for new homes, allowing development to be absorbed in a sensible way and dispersed.
Alan Rees, representing the Goodwood estate, said the 1,100 homes suggested as a possible option for land to the north east of the city would have a significant impact on the historic environment if they went ahead and would create a precedent for unchecked outward expansion unless a different strategy was adopted.
The future of the motor circuit and airfield could not be guaranteed if this land was developed, and their operations would continue to be questioned; if these uses ceased, there would be nothing to stop development over the circuit and airfield right up to the National Park boundary.
Unchecked development could result in Chichester becoming an ‘undistinguished, anywhere place,’ said Mr Rees.
Chris Cousins, representing Parklands Residents’ Association, said the whole approach and strategy of the district was wrong. “There seems to be a fallacy that a big housing number is what you need to support economic growth,” he added. The numbers being suggested were far too high, and 200 homes a year should be the absolute maximum.
“If we had a lower number, none of the locations suggested in the consultation document would be needed,” said Mr Cousins. Brian Wood, vice-chairman of Tangmere Parish Council, strongly opposed the option of major development there. “I don’t think Tangmere could survive if it had 1,500 new houses,” he declared.
Chris Lindsey, chairman of East Broyle Residents’ Association, said: “This is a small city, and must remain a small city, to retain its character. Putting more and more houses into the city is not going to be workable.”