Council slammed for housing quota

THE DISTRICT council was blasted at a recent planning inquiry, as appellants claimed it had only reached 17 per cent of its quota for new homes in the past two years.

The appeal against Chichester District Council’s refusal of 100 homes on Maudlin Nursery near Westhampnett opened on Tuesday.

And if the developers are successful, they will try to reduce the number of affordable homes from 40 per cent to 30.

Jeremy Cahill QC, speaking on behalf of appellant City and Urban Securities Ltd, said the council was ‘under-performing’ in its ability to meet the housing quotas.

According to Mr Cahill, Chichester District Council should have built 960 homes in the last two years.

When he asked Mr Saunders, a witness speaking on behalf of the council, how many homes had been permitted, he estimated there had only been 165 in the last two years.

However, he said certain developments had been refused ‘with good reason’.

At the inquiry, Westhampnett resident Andrew Blanchard said: “Sewage is a major problem, there is no infrastructure, and they are joining up Maudlin and Westhampnett.

“The reason I moved here ten years ago is because it is a rural environment, and now they’re concreting it over.”

The district council refused the application on the grounds it would ‘detract from the character and appearance of its rural location’, the development is ‘unsustainable’ as there are not enough facilities, and it would cause the coalescence of Westhampnett and Maudlin.

Mr Saunders said if the developers ‘infill the patch of land’ which separates the two settlements, it would cause them to ‘lose their identity’.

He also said 100 new homes in the settlement would be ‘excessive’.

The initial application to the district council was for 100 homes, along with a village green, village hall and a pub/ restaurant.

But there was talk of reducing the number of affordable homes from 40 per cent to 30 per cent, because current ‘out-of-date’ council policy demands large developments set aside 40 per cent of the homes as affordable, but new policy will only ask for 30 per cent.

However, the appellant said the matter would be dealt with by a third party and not at the planning inquiry.

There were also behind-the-scenes discussions about the provision of section 106 money, should the appellants win their case.

Planning inspector Jane Miles heard cases from the council and appellant, and is due to make her decision on the matter today (May 2).