Concerns about flood risk and traffic congestion have been raised on the first of a four-day planning inquiry to determine whether the installation of 77 Birdham homes should go ahead.
Mr and Mrs Paul Knappett’s application for the homes, retail and open space on the to redevelop Koolbergen, Kelly’s Nurseries and Bellfield Nurseries in Bell Lane was refused by Chichester District Council in February 2017 because the site is outside of Birdham’s settlement boundary, while concerns about access and demand for the employment floorspace were also raised.
A four-day planning inquiry was due to start on Tuesday (March 20), but this was adjourned until Tuesday October 2.
In his statement of case, Chichester District Council barrister Gwion Lewis argued that the development would be in conflict with a local plan policy, resulting in ‘harm to the character and appearance of the countryside’.
He added: “It would significantly exceed the indicative target of 50 dwellings for Birdham Parish set out in the local plan.”
Adding to the opposing argument, councillor Lawrence Pocock, elected chairman of the Birdham Parish Council, said the plan is ‘unsuitable for large scale housing development’ and is ‘severely constrained’ by environmental designations and flood risk areas — hence why the plan was rejected by Southern Water.
He added: “It also suffers from poor road accessibility and a relative lack of social services and employment opportunities.”
He said these problems are ‘exacerbated’ in the summer months.
Earnley Parish councillor and Earnley and Birdham Flood Action Group chairman Robert Carey believes it will only worsen an already ‘major issue’ with traffic congestion.
He added: “It is a really serious issue.
“It simply isn’t fair on existing residents as it makes their lives more difficult, adding to the severe traffic in the area,”
On the contrary Jane Wigley, legal representative of planning applicant Mr and Mrs Paul Knappett, in her statement of case, argued that ‘very minimum, if any issues remain’.
She added: “This is a proposal that offers many planning benefits. There is a real, identified need for affordable housing and this will improve the area.
“It is an agreed sustainable location, on a largely undeveloped land. It is accepted not to be in the countryside. Very few, if any issues remain, other than any that may be addressed in evidence.”
The four-day planning inquiry continues.