THE developer behind plans for an Asda store and new homes in Selsey has said the bid will be allowed through at appeal, if not at committee, after the number of houses was reduced by five.
Last week the Observer reported that Chichester District Council’s planning committee went against officers’ recommendation and voted, nine to eight, to refuse the application for a supermarket, 144 homes, restaurants, a hotel and a petrol station on the Park Farm site.
But the application did not meet its publicity expiry date until the following day and developer Landlink Estates made a material change to the application that night, before the expiry date, which meant the refusal could not be implemented.
The material change was to reduce the number of homes to 139 – two fewer affordable homes – to allow room to bring the dog-walking track within the site’s boundaries
The application will now go to planning committee again as soon as possible and Landlink Estates’ head of estates Michael Fletcher said he hoped it would be heard again this month.
“Their rejection of the scheme, contrary to officers’ advice, will end up in appeal which they will lose.
“We have worked on this now for a very long time and been through the fine details with all the consultees who have really put us to task.
“All those consultees who really gave us a very hard time have been very thorough and have got a scheme which is acceptable and officers have recommended. If members were to override that they would have to have very sound reasons.”
He added that the cost to the council of going to appeal could be hundreds of thousands of pounds –which he suggested would negate all of the developer’s monetary contributions to the community.
The circular dog-walking track had originally utilised Park Lane, but the new plan has brought the entire route within the site’s boundaries – reducing space for houses.
Mr Fletcher said they were disappointed to have to reduce the number of houses but they knew some councillors showed concern about the use of a busy stretch of road and they wanted to remove this concern.
The report of last week’s refusal prompted a huge reaction on social media from residents who were both pleased and disappointed.
Mr Fletcher said he was heartened by the messages of support.
“I appreciate housing developments aren’t always very popular but this is a mixed development which has received an enormous amount of support.”
The application was refused on the grounds of its negative impact on the highways network in the peninsula and the effect on the local high street.
Mr Fletcher said at the time of the refusal: “Today’s result was disappointing and frustrating, particularly to all those in Selsey who desperately need homes, all-year jobs and funds to expand schools, improve highways, etc. It was also a slap in the face of the localism process, as the scheme was not only supported in the main by Selsey Town Council, but is part of the emerging neighbourhood plan.”
Objectors have said they will continue to fight after Landlink Estates’ material amendments.
On hearing the changes, resident Donna Johnson, who has acted as a spokesperson for objectors in the town, said they still believed the plan was not right for the community.
She said: “Those of us objecting to this development consider that Landlink’s material amendment is a very cynical attempt to try to circumnavigate the democratic process.
“The material amendment is irrelevant to the reasons why the councillors voted to object.
“They voted to object on the basis of impact to the high street and beyond and the transport implications to the peninsular.
“Landlink’s amendment – exploiting the fact that application should not have been tabled when it was – merely gives them another ‘bite at the cherry’ with different councillors following May. We will continue with the campaign.”
Around ten objectors attended the planning committee meeting last week.
Donna spoke on behalf of the traders in Selsey town centre who could not attend the meeting themselves. She said the large distance between the new supermarket and the town centre would take business away from existing traders and residents would be much happier with a supermarket nearer to the town centre as this would encourage shoppers to also visit the local independent shops.
She added that objectors felt Selsey Town Council’s emerging neighbourhood plan – which has assigned the Park Farm site for a mixed-use development such as Landlink Estates’ – should not be taken into consideration when deciding this application because the plan’s consultation had only received little more than a one per cent response rate.
To view the new plan, search for 14/02186 on the district council’s website
Mr Fletcher added that if anyone wished to find out further details which are not on the website, they can call Landlink Estates on 01243 578678.