Chichester local plan under fire in 120-home planning inquiry

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CHICHESTER has been accused of failing to provide adequate housing for its residents by a developer seeking 120 homes in Hambrook.

However, a council barrister immediately hit back at Sunley Estates’ accusation, labelling it an ‘unfair and incorrect submission’.

What you will hear in this inquiry is an exemplar of a very considerable effort made by this council to promote neighbourhood plans

Gwion Lewis, representing Chichester District Council

The exchange marked the opening bout of a four-day planning inquiry into the proposal to build 120 homes on land east of Broad Road.

Sunley Estates’ barrister Sasha White QC said: “The truth is that the planning system is woefully failing to provide the houses which we need.

“Nowhere reveals this failure of provision more than in Chichester District Council. Every step of this authority is to frustrate housing, not provide it.”

During a lengthy opening, he accused the council of not meeting its objectively-assessed housing needs in its recently-approved local plan, which targets 435 new homes per year in the district between 2014 and 2029.

“It was a very close run thing that the plan was even adopted or found as sound by the inspector,” he told planning inspector Michael Hetherington on Tuesday (September 22).

Sunley Estates has appealed Chichester District Council’s decision last December to refuse the 48 affordable homes and 72 for open market sale.

The 9.31ha site would also have a shop, sports pavilion, tennis courts, a football pitch, cricket nets, children’s play area and public open space.

Speaking in response, the council’s barrister Gwion Lewis said: “What you will hear in this inquiry is an exemplar of a very considerable effort made by this council to promote neighbourhood plans.

“We would say this council has been an example in promoting this new concept and at its heart is seeking to ensure that the appropriate and sufficient level of housing is located on land that’s socially sustainable in taking on the views of local people.”

Myles Cullen was part of the district council cabinet that saw the plan created.

He told the inquiry: “I’m very proud of the work we achieved and the engagement with our residents.

“In that plan, which I think Mr White now wants to put in the shredder, it covers the period of 2014-2029 and residents believed they had at last got some confidence, clarity and certainty with what was an agreed plan for their locality for years to come.”

He said it was a relief to residents subjected to a ‘tsunami’ of planning applications. In the local plan, Chidham and Hambrook parish is earmarked for 25 new homes.

Its neighbourhood plan is out for consultation until October 9.

The inquiry continues tomorrow (September 24) in the Vicars Hall in the Chichester Cathedral cloisters and on Friday (September 25) at the Council House, in North Street.

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