1,600 homes at Whitehouse Farm labelled ‘rural vandalism’

Michael Fort with the fields of Whitehouse Farm behind
Michael Fort with the fields of Whitehouse Farm behind

THE short-term gain of building houses on agricultural land could be damaging for future generations, according to a farming expert.

Michael Fort, 82, lives on land at Whitehouse Farm, which is earmarked for 1,250 homes in Chichester District Council’s local plan – later going up to 1,600.

With a degree in agriculture and having been responsible for thousands of acres of farming land, he has described the loss of the agricultural land as ‘rural vandalism’.

“If you feel strongly about something, it is important you voice your feelings,” he said.

Michael and his wife Hilary moved to the area in 2012 from Lincolnshire and at the time were told the land was safe from development.

However, he now fears that losing the greenfield site to satisfy housing targets will be damaging for the UK’s farming future.

“Once you’ve built houses on that – concrete and bricks – it’s gone forever,” he said.

“There’s a general awareness that we’re potentially running a tight rope in terms of food supplies.”

He said the people of Chichester had already voiced their opposition to the proposals.

He cited the expanding population in this country and across the world.

“We’ve got a situation where taking land out of production on this scale can be counterproductive in the fullness of time,” he said.

“It won’t happen immediately, but in the fullness of time we’re depleting our agriculture and food production resources.”

Mr Fort spoke at a meeting on February 11 of Chichester City Council’s planning committee, where members deferred commenting on the application until they had further information.

He was applauded by the audience at that meeting for his comments on the plan.

“As far as we’re concerned it’s not a case of NIMBYism,” he said. “We’re looking at this from a national point of view and I think it will have the most deleterious effect on Chichester.”

To view the first application for 750 homes and to comment, go to www.chichester.gov.uk and search for application 14/04301/OUT