Hands off our beauty spot, say Chichester residents

Residents have thrown their weight behind Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s fight to protect the local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from being put under threat by new developments in the future.

Despite government officials stating that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), such as the harbour, would be protected, many residents are still concerned.

Birdham resident David Williams said although the new National Planning Policy Framework is currently in draft form, areas like the Chichester Harbour AONB still remain a development target in the future.

He said: “It is a reality, I am in no doubt about that. It absolutely involves greenfield sites and the AONB.

“With the national planning framework they have changed the definitions. Previously the AONB was protected but it isn’t so much now.”

He added: “If they start nibbling at any one AONB area, they can continue this at any other AONB or national park.”

Mr Williams said the plans are still ‘up in the air’ in their current draft form, but this now means AONBs are protected and could be interpreted in a number of ways.

A Chichester Harbour Conservancy spokesman said: “We are thrilled hundreds of people have responded.

“This is an important issue and we are concerned about the long-term effects it could have on this special landscape.

“It is good to know that so many people in the local community support our efforts and really care about what happens to Chichester Harbour.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has re-iterated that the coalition government is committed to safeguarding the natural environment.

It said it has ensured there are strong protections for the Green Belt, ancient woodlands, AONB and many other natural areas.

It stated the streamlining of the planning system does not give the green light to development everywhere or development at the expense of the environment.

It said the planning reforms go further by putting power into the hands of communities so they decide for themselves the areas they wish to see developed and those that should be protected.