Birdham housing ‘could open the floodgates’

The proposed site for development in Birdham, in last year's floods. PICTURE BY JAMES STEWART GRANT
The proposed site for development in Birdham, in last year's floods. PICTURE BY JAMES STEWART GRANT

RESIDENTS of Birdham expressed ‘outrage’ after planning officers recommended approval for a 46-home development in the village.

The site is within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and villagers believe if this is approved it will open the floodgates for development on these sites across the UK.

“A further 46 houses will put unprecedented pressure on our already at capacity infrastructure as anyone trying to use the A286 recently can attest!” said Birdham Village Residents’ Association chairman Laurie Pocock.

Campaigners say national guidelines in the government’s planning bible the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) clearly state planning should be refused for major developments in AONBs except in exceptional circumstances.

“Given we can prove that this is a major development then the planning application should be refused,” said Mr Pocock.

“Birdham is 70 per cent of the way towards a 16 year housing target.”

Based on the planning inspectorate’s recent decision to approve building of 50 homes in Selsey, it’s very likely that an application in Birdham for 30 houses at Tawney Nursery will also get approval at appeal.

“Birdham will have overreached its 16 year housing target in just six months.”

Residents are also concerned about floods on the site.

“It is inconceivable that a field that floods, that is surrounded by houses that suffered flooding and that acts as a natural water meadow had been recommended for approval by planning officers,” said Mr Pocock.

“Tax payers will be looking to our elected representatives on the planning committee to use their common sense and reject this application.

“During this current spell of hot dry weather it’s all too easy to forget the problems we faced with flooding for months in 2012.”

The planning officer’s report said: “This field has housing development on three-and-half sides and is not connected to the wider countryside in a physical or functional way. The contribution it makes to the overall character of the AONB is therefore considered to be relatively limited.”

The application is set to appear before the planning committee on August 21.