Concerns over Fittleworth coal yard plans

RESIDENTS of School Lane, Fittleworth, have formed an action group to fight revised plans for nine new homes at the end of their cul-de-sac.

Spokesman Nigel Farr told Fittleworth parish councillors part of the site was once a coal yard and has long been derelict but the major part is woodland adjoining Fittleworth Common with the Fleet Stream running through it, which frequently floods during the winter or after heavy rainfall.

A previous plan for five houses was refused by Chichester District Council which asked for greater density and two affordable units.

The parish council expressed concerns about the first plan regarding methods of dealing with the run off from roofs and paved areas. It recommended underground storage tanks be installed to collect excess water when the stream was in spate and one third of the site became a flood plain. Members said somebody should take responsibility for pumping out the tanks and there should also be two rainwater butts for each home.

The new residents’ association has now voiced other concerns including increased vehicle movements in the quiet close of 13 dwellings.

More immediately, they fear the disruption, noise, dust and damage caused by construction vehicles needing constant access over the planned 60-week development period.

The entrance to the site is narrow and HGVs would be unable to turn in School Close and could block access for residents and emergency vehicles, almost certainly damaging the road, verges and gardens.

Residents said parking of contractors’ vehicles could also cause difficulties, particularly in bad weather when frequent street cleaning would be necessary.

Residents are also worried about the proposed roof heights which were generally increased and could overlook existing properties.

The safety aspect of a constant procession of HGVs passing daily just yards from the entrance to the junior school was also questioned.

Parish councillors said they would note the concerns and ask for modifications where appropriate. They said they would seek assurance that some woodland east of the ditch would be preserved and would suggest more trees with high water uptake were planted.

However, the council stressed it had to look at the plan within planning guidelines and this was the last available site in the settlement zone.

Only the affordable homes counted towards any housing quota and other sites would have to be found outside the settlement area.

Members said the number of units proposed was not excessive but did not take into account much of the site was unsuitable due to flooding.

It was also suggested a ransom strip on the south side of School Close might help householders who wanted to extend their gardens.

Councillors decided to submit a ‘neutral’ response raising concerns over flooding, traffic, housing density and the design which was not in keeping with the village.