AN ITCHENOR shipyard could lose its last marine business after plans to support the struggling industry were rejected over serious highways safety concerns.
The change of use application for vacant buildings at Northshore Shipyard would have seen renowned wetsuit manufacturer O’Neill and sports sock distributors Hectic move into the former boat-building units.
Since yacht manufacturer Southerly went into administration in 2014, the units have been empty, with the firm only carrying out boat maintenance on site.
Ian Kitchener, a shipyard employee for 28 years, told Chichester District Council’s planning committee last Wednesday: “I am personally concerned that due to the objections of the local residents, that I am in danger and also the team that I have built up over the years, that we will not be able to survive.”
The council’s economic development team advised rejection would threaten the future of marine-related activited at the shipyard.
But the application was met with a raft of objections from residents.
Concerns over the increase in heavy goods vehicle movements were the primary concern.
West Sussex County Council’s highways department objected, as did former county council cabinet member for highways Pieter Montyn – Witterings division member.
Christopher Mead-Briggs, of West Itchenor Parish Council, said: “The boat-building yard has been a finely-balanced part of this special mix which makes Itchenor village a unique attraction to visitors. More HGV traffic must threaten this.”
Supporters, including Mr Kitchener, argued the highways concerns were ‘vastly overstated’ and less than the vehicle movements seen when the shipyard was in full use.
But councillors sided with the recommendation to refuse the application.
Councillor Les Hixson said: “If this was to go ahead as planned that would have a serious impact on the movement of traffic, as that road is quite dangerous the way it is.”