Warning over ‘unprecedented threat’ from housing

Historic Chichester and surrounding villages south of the National Park boundary are facing an ‘unprecedented threat’ from new housing, a West Sussex county councillor is warning.

Cllr Mike Hall, who represents Chichester North, said the reason was poorly planned mass development without the infrastructure to support it.

“There is no overall vision for a long-term plan for city traffic and no likelihood of urgently-required improvements for the A27 until 2020,” he added.

Congestion already resulted in high volumes of traffic rat-running at speed through villages north of the city. Cllr Hall said the Apuldram sewage treatment works was at maximum capacity, and regularly discharged into Chichester Harbour.

The Lavant treatment works was also overloaded during high ground water levels, he said.

Cllr Hall warned that in the absence of an adopted plan, there was a very high risk of large developments being refused planning permission by the council but then gaining permission from a government inspector on appeal.

This would not only be financially damaging to the district council but would destroy open areas of countryside around the city.

The time had come for strong local political representation by the leaders of the district council to call a meeting with Grant Shapps MP, the housing minister, and Andrew Tyrie, MP for Chichester, to either temporarily relax the rules until Chichester’s local plan was complete or to extend the powers of the district’s interim policy.

“The heritage and culture of the city and its unique setting at the foot of the South Downs must be preserved at all costs,” he declared.