THERE were cries of dismay from the public as councillors voted in favour of building 27 new homes in Birdham, despite fears of flooding in the area.
The application to build the homes on the former Rowan Nurseries site off Bell Lane was approved at Chichester District Council’s planning committee last Wednesday, having already been deferred once.
Members had previously deferred the decision to allow Southern Water time to provide more information on the impact on foul water drainage at nearby Pipers Mead.
However, the company raised ‘no technical objection on drainage grounds’ to the development.
“I find the response of Southern Water absolutely staggering,” said Cllr Pieter Montyn.
He questioned how ‘robust’ the company’s complaints procedure was, as the company said it received no complaints from residents despite objectors saying they endured serious foul drainage problems, including backed-up toilets.
David Lowsley, a senior engineer at Chichester District Council, claimed the development would shed less water.
There was apparent reluctance from councillors to pass the scheme, summarised by Cllr David Myers, who said there had been no meeting between the residents of Pipers Mead and Southern Water, meaning the reasons for the previous deferral had not been answered.
“I can’t support this application until we get a satisfactory answer,” he said.
However, assistant director of development management Andrew Frost disagreed, saying Southern Water’s response was ‘not dependant on a meeting taking place’.
“I think they’ve answered questions that were raised,” he said. “Clearly I accept there appears to be a difference between what we hear from residents and the Southern Water response.”
He urged councillors to entrust the officers to make sure all necessary precautions were taken to reduce flooding.
To minimise the flooding risk, Mr Lowsley said tanks would be placed in the ground to pump out water to prevent flooding. Cllr Montyn asked for more detail on the tanks.
“In view of the fact this is a full application I think we’re entitled to a little more information about the full volume that the tank might occupy,” he said.
However, Mr Frost responded councillors did not have to know the size of the tanks.
“I’m not clear how that would help the committee gauge whether the scheme is acceptable,” he said.
“I remind members that the council has a significant shortfall in its housing land supply.”
The committee voted eight in favour and six against of approval, subject to a 106 agreement.