Almodington glasshouses planning probe draws to a close

A momentous public inquiry into plans for 52 acres of glasshouses in Almodington has now concluded.

Residents against the proposals made their voices known throughout the inquiry on Madestein’s plans to grow lettuces at Easton Farm, Almodington Lane.

After 14 days of hearing all the evidence, a planning inspector will now take several weeks to come to a decision on whether the development can go ahead or not.

The final three days of the inquiry, which finished on June 22, focused on a last-minute proposal for a road-widening scheme for HGVs by the appeal site before all parties involved summarised their cases.

Tom Cosgrove, representing the district council, said: “Can the proposals go elsewhere? The answer is yes.”

He added: “The proposal will significantly and adversely impact on the Medmerry sea defence scheme if allowed. The proposal will result in significant damage to the locality.

“The road at the present time is unsuitable for use by large HGVs. There is no justification for making a bad situation worse.”

Summarising Madestein’s case, Christopher Katkowski QC, said: “The Manhood Peninsula has a number of rural lanes but here the lane would be improved so that it is safer for all users than it is today.”

He added: “It’s time to take a deep breath and do the right thing. In these times of economic crisis there is even greater good sense in helping, not hindering, a business such as this.”

The inquiry was launched in February after Madestein appealed against Chichester District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the glasshouses.

The main groups which oppose the glasshouses plans, The Almodington Association, CPRE Sussex and the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group, all summarised their cases.

In total The Almodington Association, which is fiercely against the plans, raised £190,000 to put their case forward at the inquiry which has mainly taken place at Chichester District Council’s East Pallant office in Chichester. The group said the economic benefits of the glasshouses proposal have been ‘highly exaggerated’.

Resident Chris Darling said: “A country lane can never be expected to cope with the kind of traffic that the appellant is proposing.”