Hands off Lavant is the clear message to developers from residents in Summersdale and Lavant who are forming an action group to fight a new homes bid in the area.
Last week developers Taylor Wimpey distributed leaflets to a number of homes in Summersdale informing them it had ‘acquired’ land known locally as the ‘daffodil field’, just to the north of Keepers Wood. The company said the 6.2 hectare site could accommodate 100 new homes – 40 per cent affordable housing – plus green open space. It hopes to submit a planning application in spring.
On Tuesday Lavant Memorial Hall was packed out for a meeting to discuss the news, with residents firmly against any development on the site, which they say forms an essential strategic gap between the two communities.
At the meeting district councillor Mike Hall made a plea for people to get together and form Rage 2: Residents Against Greenfield Encroachment and voice their concerns. He said the field was of important benefit to both communities as it prevented their coalescence.
“It’s time we had a voice to say what should happen to our villages and our city,” he said.
Taylor Wimpey has yet to submit any formal application, but its interest in the land comes on top of plans by Seward Homes to build 20 homes at Hunters Rest which is being fought vociferously by Lavant Parish Council and residents. Those plans are expected to be decided by Chichester District Council in the coming weeks.
Parish council chairman Alan Dickinson said fighting Hunters Rest could be the key to fighting plans for the daffodil field. He said the council would be reiterating their objections to the Hunters Rest plans and also writing to Chichester District Council to voice their objections over any development on the daffodil field site.
Resident Geoffrey Claridge said both communities benefited from this open piece of land.
“What we want is a pleasant place to live, not to deny others,” he said. “There are plenty of sites within the city where development can take place. It doesn’t want a Wimpey sprawl across open land.”
He said a ‘coordinated and concentrated’ campaign was needed to fight any plans and that it was about maintaining quality of life which residents believed was enhanced by this area of land.
Chichester city councillor Peter Evans, who was also at the meeting, said it was important people power was heard.
“You want to retain the village atmosphere – it is one of the most valuable assets you have got. You need to get out and put that point across,” he said.
Cllr Hall said: “I am not personally against development. I know there is a need for housing, particularly in the social affordable sector, but there are pieces of land that should be used first for that purpose.”
Residents are urged to write to Chichester District Council about both schemes. A campaign meeting will take place next week.