Homes in strategic gap between Southbourne and Hermitage approved

Plans to build eight houses between Southbourne and Hermitage have been approved by Chichester District Council at the second time of asking.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 10:48 am

The application, for garden land next to Wayside cottage, off the A259 Main Road, was deferred in August but was finally given the nod by the planning committee on Wednesday (October 6).

The plans, which include a new access onto Main Road, were vehemently opposed by Southbourne Parish Council as the site sits outside the settlement boundary in the strategic gap between the two villages.

Parish councillor Amanda Tait warned that people would lose faith in the council if it did not listen to the views of residents.

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She told the committee: “Eight houses will not fix your housing numbers. This will surely damage not only Southbourne but whatever remains of public confidence in the [council] as a local planning authority.”

She was supported by resident Chris Bowring, who called the planning process ‘an expensive tick-box exercise for the council to achieve housing numbers at minimum cost’.

Mr Bowring pointed out that the latest Southbourne Neighbourhood Plan said development ‘should not be considered on this property’.

He added: “This application proposes exactly the opposite of the Neighbourhood Plan.

“It adds to a creaking infrastructure, it destroys existing green areas and it encourages the coalescence of parishes.”

Officers, though, said the Neighbourhood Plan carried ‘limited weight’ as it had not yet been through examination or a referendum.

One of the reasons for the August deferral was the need for more information about the maintenance of a ditch which runs along the edge of the site.

The meeting was told that two access points had been added to the plans to allow for this.

Councillors were also told that Southern Water had raised no objection to the plans, adding that there was capacity at the Thornham Wastewater Treatment Works to take waste from the new homes.

This despite the leader and chief executive writing to OFWAT less than a year ago to raise concerns about the company’s ability to deal with the area’s wastewater.

There were some strong views about the plans among councillors.

David Rodgers (Lib Dem, Harbour Villages) asked what the point was of people spending so long working on a Neighbourhood Plan ‘only to have it completely disregarded when it comes to building more houses that aren’t really needed anyhow’.

And John-Henry Bowden (Lib-Dem, Chichester West) called it a ‘self-indulgent application which benefits no one except the developer’.

With officers recommending the plans be approved, there were concerns that refusing it because of the coalescence risk would not stand up to an appeal.

Losing an appeal could cost the council thousands and still see the homes being built.

The application was approved by seven votes to four.

To view the application, log on to publicaccess.chichester.gov.uk and search for 20/02297/FUL.