Please mind the gap

RECENT publicity and the carefully considered proposals of Tangmere Parish Council have emphasised the problems facing villages throughout the area.

The CDC policy of ‘Facilitating Appropriate Development’ (FAD) seems to backfire against all parties except the planning department. Developers are encouraged to introduce or revisit spurious plans that largely ignore the middle word of the title; district and parish councillors are faced with an inflow of expensively-produced proposals which they are not, by nature, equipped to deal with.

In 2010 CDC produced a land availability assessment map which included Lavant’s football pitch and allotment site as being suitable for development along with several other sites within the parish. Since then, one such site (Hunters Rest) was granted outline permission under somewhat debatable circumstances, and another site, not previously identified has submitted a proposal for 92 dwellings.

Both sites would require redrawing of the Chichester Settlement Boundary and threaten our 800m gap. The first of these sites, Hunters Rest, with 24 dwellings would effectively reduce the strategic gap between Lavant and Chichester by 20 per cent.

The latter site, (locally known as the daffodil field) would reduce the gap by 50 per cent. Needless to say, Taylor Wimpey the developers, quote the Hunters Rest site on the other side of the A286 as a valid precedent and offer the LPC the balance of the field as consolation. The concept of fish and bicycles comes to mind.

Lavant Parish Council now has in its possession the full submission from Taylor Wimpey. This runs to 17 volumes ranging in thickness from 5mm to 50mm and employing the services of five different consulting agencies. In contrast, Lavant’s Design Statement (2005) and the Village Plan (2010) produced at the specific encouragement of county and district councils are some 4mm thick together. We were assured that these would be used to influence planners and policy makers. Both these documents, in word and in data, specifically condemn any intrusion into the strategic gap. Neither were acknowledged or referred to during the planners deliberations or pronouncements at the Hunters Rest planning meeting.

Needless to say, LPC are currently working on a neighbourhood Plan which we are assured, when approved, will become part of the planning policy... we wonder.

At the moment our main strength must be in representations from residents of Lavant and Summersdale. If you value our strategic gap, please do declare your views to the CDC planners referring to reference number LV12/03178/OUT by September 24.

Ian Hutton


Lavant Parish Council