Here’s what council officers are now recommending for 73-home Birdham development

Plans for 73 homes in Birdham are set to come back before councillors for a decision after being deferred in September.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 3:50 pm
Part of the development site viewed from Bell Lane (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

When an outline application for land at Bellfield Nurseries, Kelly’s Nurseries and Koolbergen, in Bell Lane, was discussed by the planning committee councillors were not satisfied with the information provided regarding the knock-on effect of the new homes – namely traffic, waste water and school places.

A decision was deferred to ask for more information from both Southern Water and Highways England - now called National Highways.

The plans are due to return to the planning committee on Wednesday (December 8).

In between the meetings the council has established it has a five-year housing land supply, which has shifted the planning balance.

Back in September officers recommended approval, but are now recommending refusal as the site is outside Birdham’s settlement boundary, while the plans would result in the loss of the existing horticultural use.

Their report said: “With the advent of a housing supply the need to permit further housing on unidentified sites ahead of adoption of the Local Plan Review is substantially changed.

“The planning balance has shifted back to a plan-led determination of new housing applications and the officers recommendation on this application is therefore necessarily changed from permit to refuse.”

The application site is located on the western side of Bell Lane, comprises approximately three hectares and is flat and roughly rectangular in shape.

There are three horticultural nurseries, but only Bellfield Nursery continues trading as such. The site is a mix of glasshouses, outdoor storage areas, parking areas, a storage barn, light industrial units, footings and floor base of a new farm shop, a nursery with a small shop and one residential dwelling.

The existing dwelling and its associated curtilage at Kelly’s Nursery would be retained and does not form part of the application site.

The derelict glasshouses on the southern part of the site at the former Koolbergen Nursery have been largely cleared away and the land left to rough scrub.

The proposal is to clear the site of all existing buildings and structures including the dwelling house at Bellfield Nursery.

A total of 73 homes are planned, alongside a separate retail unit and an employment building.

Southern Water has confirmed that tankers are still required for Birdham during wet weather due to the waterwater pumping station being overwhelmed by excess flows entering the network.

The company believes the main issue in the area is groundwater infiltration which is causing the station not to cope in wet weather.

Their response added: “The tankers are a temporary solution until the larger issue is addressed. Unfortunately, without the tankers, residents in the surrounding area tend to flood, lose the use of their facilities and their electrics cut out leaving them with no heating.

“There is a scheme planned to electroscan survey the Birdham area this winter. This is scheduled to start beginning of January and finish by the end January, but this is subject to variables such as the groundwater conditions at the time.

“This will allow Southern Water to identify public sewers which may be letting groundwater in through poor pipe joints and overwhelming the sewerage system. Once we have identified the leaking pipes, we will then be able to determine a forward plan to seal these, which is normally done by lining through the existing network to make the joints watertight. Once the surveys are complete, we will know more about the cause and start to address the issue.”

A representative from National Highways is set to attend the planning committee meeting.

Meanwhile on the subject of the BellLane/Main Road/B2179/Chaffinch Close junction, West Sussex County Council says this development would not result in a severe impact on the junction or require mitigation either when assessed as a standalone scheme or cumulatively with all live or consented applications.