Officers needed?

Regarding Richard Hill’s excellent letter Time to face the music (Observer, August 16), I agree planning officers need to consider their position.

Is it too much for us, the general public, to expect planning officers, who are specifically trained in the subject of town planning and planning in general, should at least have a modicum of understanding of the nature of the problems associated with the area under their control?

In the case of the Madestein application, why was it necessary for the unpaid councillors to exercise some common sense in this matter and object to the application?

Why, indeed, do we need paid planning officers if they cannot do the job satisfactorily?

Presumably in this case the Chichester planning officers were merely carrying out the dictates of central government and just ticking boxes.

On the other hand, were they in fact being lazy and leaving it to unpaid councillors to do all the donkey work?

Perhaps we should do away with paid planning officers who appear to be poor value for money and just pay them to carry out the instructions of the elected district councillors, who appear to be more aware of the problems south of the A27.

Currently in Bracklesham there is a planning application for 50 houses on a greenfield site at the end of Beech Avenue.

East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council have objected to the application and their letter of objection is freely available for any member of the public to see.

This application relies on its adherence to CDC’s interim policy statement on Housing – Facilitating Appropriate Development in order to be a valid application.

The application actually fails on over half of the criteria in that policy statement.

The question has to be asked: Why was this application allowed to proceed to the consultation stage? Why was it not thrown out immediately?

Presumably because the paid planning officers could not be bothered to read the immense amount of material submitted with the application and left it to other people to do the work for them.

This application should have been thrown out immediately upon its receipt by the CDC.

One can only hope our elected district councillors will again exercise their good common sense and refuse permission for this unsuitable and unnecessary application.

The Environment Agency and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) were both criticised in Richard Hill’s letter. It is interesting to note the Evironment Agency has, I feel, been particularly negligent in its response to CDC’s enquiry regarding this application.

I quote from its letter to CDC: “Due to the level of risk posed by this development and current pressure on our resources, we are unable to provide a detailed response to this consultation and therefore have no comments to make.” What sheer and unhelpful arrogance!

As for WSCC, they have raised no objection for the simple reason the application is only for ‘50 houses’.

I quote: “It is accepted that the roads within the Manhood peninsula are busy. However, the impact of the traffic generated by 50 dwellings cannot be considered to be severe nor would there be sufficient material reason to resist the application on capacity grounds”.

That is all very well and to the good. Unfortunately, WSCC (along with CDC) are at fault because they appear to be incapable of any forward planning and think only in terms of individual applications rather than the cumulative effect.

Approving plans in isolation is poor policy.

Another 50 houses on their own will probably not have much effect on A27 or infrastructure. But we know there are several planning applications already in the pipeline.

We have the current Wates application of 50 houses in Bracklesham (we know this will eventually be 150 houses), another 28 already being built in Birdham, a further application for 100 in Birdham, 100 in Earnley and 100 in Donnington – a total of 378 houses on the Manhood peninsula (plus others we know nothing about) and will have a cumulative effect which the CDC planners and WSCC seem to be incapable of understanding.

Is it impossible for them to do the simple sums and arrive at 378 houses? Two cars each at rush hour is another 756 cars piling up at Stockbridge.

Another quote from WSCC: “The A27 Stockbridge roundabout is in the jurisdiction of the Highway Agency and it would be appropriate for their comment to be considered in relation to the impact of development on this junction. It is my understanding the Highway Agency has raised no objection to the proposals.”

This says it all. In other words, ‘it’s not my problem’!

In the Chichester area, there are more than 2,000 homes with planning or outline permission. There are no firm plans or budgets in place to upgrade either the A27, local road networks or the Apuldram sewage treatment works. Therefore, there is no justification to further complicate the situation by adding even more sites for development.

In fairness to CDC, they are requirement by central government to demonstrate five years’ supply of deliverable housing sites. However, it is negligent merely to comply with this requirement.

Where special and difficult circumstances are present, government policy should be challenged and challenged vociferously.

Whatever the government policy for ‘presumption for development’ is, it doesn’t matter if the region/area cannot sustain further development.

The problems associated with the A27, the lack of infrastructure and the single road in and out of the Manhood should override all such requirements and the government must be made aware the Manhood peninsula is a special case.

The area is saturated already and no further development should take place until the A27 and the infrastructure has been improved.

I urge all concerned residents to write to Andrew Tyrie and ask him to push for a change of government policy.

Geoffrey Breeze,

Coney Road,

East Wittering