Concern at housing development levels proposed for Southbourne parish
A group of Nutbourne residents are concerned about the scale of housing development proposed in the eastern part of the Southbourne parish.
On top of the housing already being built, the parish has to find sites for at least 1,250 extra new homes.
A six week public consultation on the neighbourhood plan review document, which focuses growth to the east of Southbourne, ends on Thursday June 3.
David King, representing a group of residents living in Inlands Road, commended the parish council for its hard work in trying to protect the area from speculative development.
But he raised their concerns about the impact of so many new homes when their wastewater and road infrastructure is already struggling to cope.
They also feel not enough consultation has been held on a masterplan for large development proposed to the east of them, which has been included as an appendix to the submission plan.
Mr King said: “We really worry our community is sleepwalking into this.”
He described how the proposed development itself was causing ‘anger, frustration and considerable anxiety’.
The group of Inlands Road residents believe the scale of development proposed would ‘make it impossible to retain the character that is so valued’ and was incompatible with the priorities expressed by the community at the start of the neighbourhood plan review process.
Current capacity issues at Southern Water’s Thornham wastewater treatment works have been well documented recently with impacts on drainage as well as environmental damage to Chichester Harbour.
Meanwhile the group of residents also predicts ‘sheer chaos’ on the local roads if the homes go ahead.
Mr King described the railway station as ‘little more than a holt’, how there was no easy access from the proposed development site to the A27 and a ‘spider’s web of totally inadequate roads’ off the A259.
Since the land earmarked for development is in different ownerships, Mr King called it ‘laudable’ trying to tie a consortium together in a single project to leverage the most infrastructure improvements, but they had little faith in these actually being secured.
Although a road bridge over the railway line is proposed, he said the community ‘had no confidence of that materialising’.
And even if it did go ahead they say it would cut through a natural wildlife corridor, necessitate the removal of trees and would be next to the Ham Brook Chalk Stream.
The residents are also concerned that since Rydon has already secured permission at appeal for 199 homes north of Cooks Lane, the original proposed location for both the site access and community hub have had to be moved and they also believe the green ring as currently envisaged is not deliverable.
The group of residents accept that some housing may need to be built near them, but argue that other site options for the houses had been ‘dismissed prematurely’.
One is land owned by the Church Commissioners for England, especially in light of a recent report which has urged the Church of England to use its assets to promote more truly affordable homes.
Mr King suggested they were at a ‘tipping point’ not just for them but the wider community in the gap between the A27 and A259.
He concluded: “The parish council are trying to protect us, but the threat to us and them collectively from the developers is in the absence of a plan we will become prey to ad-hoc developments.
“But looking at the way the plan has been drawn up we do not think we could be any worse off quite frankly.”
They are encouraging residents to read the submission plan and comment.
The residents have put together a leaflet and have set up a website.
To comment on the plan visit Chichester District Council’s website and go to the Southbourne section,
In response, Jonathan Brown, chair of the Southbourne Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “The appeal in early 2020 that granted permission for 199 homes on Cooks Lane showed us that the writing was on the wall: the planning system is tilted heavily in favour of developers and against communities. When the district council’s local plan became out of date in July 2020, the balance shifted further against us.
“A reviewed neighbourhood plan is the only thing that stands between us and unplanned development on a massive scale, as we saw this month with the refusal of permission for a further 40 units on Cooks Lane due to our plan’s advanced status.
“An awful lot of work, by parish councillors and over 20 resident volunteers on the steering group, has gone into the Neighbourhood Plan review - and deservedly so. This has involved numerous public consultations which have fed into the evolving Plan.
“Although we did object to the numbers (a minimum 1250 houses for a “settlement hub”), in practice Southbourne faced a choice. We could masterplan the inevitable growth, secure significant investment in community infrastructure (including an uncapped 25 per cent of the Community Infrastructure Levy ‘tax’ paid on new development with a made neighbourhood plan) and the protection of green spaces, or protest powerlessly as planning permissions are granted for site after site after site, with no coordination.
“There are some things that a Neighbourhood Plan cannot address. We have strongly and repeatedly raised concerns about inadequate roads and wastewater treatment infrastructure, but ultimately it is up to the district council to resolve these issues with the providers.
“These concerns will not prevent planning permissions being granted under our broken planning system.
“But the Southbourne Neighbourhood Plan is a positive, not a defensive one. It makes provision for the protection and expansion of wildlife corridors, affordable homes, social housing, a new community centre, green spaces, the green ring, zero-carbon housing in line with the new national targets, a footbridge over the railway and the longer-term aim of a road bridge over the railway.
“None of these things could happen without our revised plan.
“The Neighbourhood Plan includes as an appendix a briefing report on the masterplan, a process that will start following the completion of the current public consultation. There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to feed into the masterplanning process. I would encourage residents to have their say then, as well as responding to the current district council consultation.”