LETTER: Sad not furious at plan result
K.W. Newby is apparently furious. This the result of me being reported as being furious!
Sad yes, but not furious at the result of a planning inspector’s report on the Bosham Parish Neighbourhood Plan.
The Bosham Association (BA) gave its wholehearted support to the process of neighbourhood planning, believing in the Government’s stated intention to give plan-making power back to the communities for whom the plan should work.
In doing so, the BA supported the Parish Council’s band of volunteers who gave up two years of their time to find out what the people of Bosham wanted. This team held six different exhibitions and addressed two Parish Assemblies over the two years. We started the first exhibition with 70 attending and at the last exhibition we had the involvement of 450 local people. Many aspects of planning were covered, but the current cause for concern is predictably housing.
We considered 16 different versions of sites over the period and at the last exhibitions people were asked to vote for their preferences. The sites that were identified by the plan were the ones for which most people voted. The full statement of community involvement may be found at http://www.chichester.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=24884&p=0
Sensibly, people chose to prioritise derelict and abandoned sites, but that would never yield the numbers of homes that government (local and central) requires of us. Next, people chose a site adjacent to shops, surgery, post office, hot-food take-aways, pub, main road buses and station. Aware of the fact that landscape issues were very important, the decision to go with the popular choice, we had landscape assessment carried out and site assessments that looked at environmental and ecological issues among many others. It means that if 1.4 hectares (15 per cent) of Swan Field were to be developed, it would have to be accompanied by hedges, wooded park, cycle and footpaths as well as ample drainage. The rusting barns would be gone and the main road and enormous road signs would be screened by perimeter hedges. All these proposals were set out at the final exhibitions.
The proposal made in K.W. Newby’s letter for the northern end of Highgrove was never put forward by developers, but three other versions put forward at different times for the Highgrove field were voted least favoured of 11 sites considered at the housing exhibitions.
Lastly I note that K.W. Newby gives an address, one which I recognise was carved out of a paddock in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Bosham Association tries to defend the qualities that make the place special and it aims to do so whilst being representative of what local people think. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bosham Parish Neighbourhood Plan also does that in a way that no remote planning authority could ever do. Indeed the Inspector acknowledges that the BPNP team did go that extra mile in gathering and representing local opinion.
Chair of Bosham Association