Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour: Small villages are ‘housing scapegoats’, residents fear

The Chidham, Hambrook and Nutbourne East Residents Association (CHANE) Action Group outside Chidham Village Hall
The Chidham, Hambrook and Nutbourne East Residents Association (CHANE) Action Group outside Chidham Village Hall

Villagers fear Chidham and Hambrook are being treated as housing scapegoats as they are too small to fight back.

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, chaired by Stephen Johnson, and the Chidham, Hambrook and Nutbourne East Residents Association (CHANE) Action Group set up by Richard Weavis are co-ordinating a challenge to the ‘huge number’ of houses allocated to Chidham, Hambrook and Nutbourne East by Chichester District Council in the Chichester Local Plan Review 2035.

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Andrew Kerry-Bedell, who is working with both groups, said: “The council has a focus of 90 per cent of its house building plans along the east-west corridor and there can only be one conclusion.

“Chidham and Hambrook along the A259 is seen by the council and developers as an easy, sacrificial target, despite this road currently being in the top 30 most dangerous road in the UK for accidents.

“Unless things change, the future outlook for Chidham and Hambrook looks depressing. The Government’s own agency, the Office of National Statistics, says we simply don’t need the increased number of new houses the Government’s telling us we must build. Yet the Government refuses to listen to local people’s needs and concerns.”

Andrew moved into the parish eight years ago and said it was no surprise there had been a lot of house building in recent years, as the south coast is such a popular place to live.

He said: “I’d already seen what had been a fairly steady ten-minute drive down the A259 heading to Portsmouth become a 20-minute slog, due to the dramatic increase in traffic along the main road.

“Taking the train from Nutbourne station, I’d also seen the Lion Park development go up on the old Marshalls site, as well as multiple small and large housing developments along the A259 strip in the next few years.”

What he and other residents cannot accept, though, is the allocation of 500 homes to a community that currently has less than 1,000 houses.

He believes the number of houses allocated by Chichester District Council is based on an out-of-date housing allocation calculation being used by central government, despite Office for National Statistics’ data suggesting these figures can no longer be justified.

Andrew said: “As part of our Neighbourhood Plan, I was one of the group from the parish that presented to Chichester Council to try to get our parish housing target allocation reviewed, but we were met with no acceptance that their allocation of 500 new houses for our small rural parish was far too high.”

A petition to the government to ‘stop councils being forced to build twice the houses we need’ was recently rejected but villagers remain determined to fight the numbers and to challenge the way housing needs are calculated.

Andrew said: “We are three small villages. We have no post office, no doctor’s surgery, we don’t even have a convenience store.

“If the government and CDC insist that 500 houses have to be allocated in our parish, then the unique nature of three coastal villages is destined to be subsumed under new houses.

“Overall, they are looking at building twice as many houses as we actually need and what we really need are flats and apartments.”

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