‘Wrong design on wrong site’

Earlier Westbourne protests over the 22-home application. Picture by Malcolm Wells
Earlier Westbourne protests over the 22-home application. Picture by Malcolm Wells

A STAUNCH defence was launched once again to save a village field from development.

Westbourne villagers turned up in force to a planning inquiry this week to persuade a planning inspector not to allow the building of 16 homes on a field off Long Copse Lane.

The pressure on the infrastructure is critical

Sandra James, West Sussex county councillor

Instead, the village says it is flying the flag of localism by proposing to take the 25 homes it is allocated in Chichester District Council’s local plan elsewhere in the village.

Parish council chairman Richard Hitchcock told the inspector on October 27: “Westbourne neighbourhood plan steering group has never promoted this site, contrary to some of the documentation.

“This site has never been promoted by the neighbourhood plan.”

He added: “The parish of Westbourne is perfectly capable of finding sites for these homes without using the Long Copse Lane site.”

Developer Southcott Homes sought to imply disagreements existed between the neighbourhood plan group and the village, with barrister Paul Cairnes saying there were ‘unresolved tensions’.

However, county councillor Sandra James replied to say she had been a member of three neighbourhood plans in her division and there were often tensions.

“There may well be tensions but the tensions are ones that can be overcome,” she said.

Speaking afterwards, she added: “I think the power of localism is demonstrated through the emerging neighbourhood plan. It’s getting to the stage now where it’s well down the line and will hold a degree of weight.”

She spoke of the proximity of the site with homes already built on the Hampshire border.

“The pressure on the infrastructure is critical,” she said.

Parish councillor David Todd gave evidence to say that Westbourne’s doctors’ surgery was designed for 2,000 patients, with the number now standing at 13,000.

“This is totally the wrong design on the wrong site,” resident Jesse Grant told the planning inspector at East Pallant House on October 28.

The inquiry runs until October 30. Residents have already successfully defeated a bid for 22 homes on the site and the plan for 16 was rejected a year ago.

A plan for nine homes has also been submitted by the developer.

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