Kirdford housing development narrowly approved with no phasing requirements

Proposed site layout for 54 homes at Kirdford
Proposed site layout for 54 homes at Kirdford

Plans for 54 homes in Kirdford have been approved despite objections from villagers about the removal of requirements to phase the development.

Cala Homes already has planning permission to build on land off Plaistow Road.

In line with neighbourhood plan, which was adopted in 2014, construction would have been phased over a five-year period.

The initial 32 dwellings on the southern part of the site would have been built, followed by a 28 month break, before work recommencing on the final 22 homes.

However Cala came back with a second application this time without any requirements to build the development in phases as it labelled the original agreement as ‘unworkable and the construction programme impractical’.

Despite objections from Kirdford residents this new application was approved by Chichester District Council’s planning committee by six votes to five on Wednesday (August 7).

Afterwards Tony Piedade, a Kirdford parish councillor, described it as a ‘shameful outcome’.

He said: “It is regrettable that the committee did not support the legal document that is our Neighbourhood Plan and instead favoured supporting the disproved arguments presented by Cala Homes on the grounds of viability.

“The committee made a choice today to prioritise the convenience for a developer, rather than backing the parish neighbourhood plan policies.”

Wednesday’s meeting heard how the phasing requirement for the site was put into the neighbourhood plan so Kirdford could more easily adapt to the significant expansion of the village.

Paul White, agent for the scheme, argued the new application was needed to make the development viable as there were a number of up-front costs the developer had to pay for such as putting overhead power lines underground.

He described how the shorter construction time would reduce disruption and mean affordable homes were delivered faster.

He added: “Surely the time has now come to stand back and accept housing delivery should be a shared responsibility for all.”

But Natalie Hume (Green, Loxwood) labelled it a ‘violation’ of the neighbourhood plan and a ‘brazen attempt to undermine council policies’.

Peter Wilding (Con, Fernhurst) added: “My feeling is we should respect the feeling of the community here.”

Officers said councillors had to consider what the harm was in granting planing permission without phasing and pointed to the fact that the development would still be built over a gradual period, expected to be three years.

Simon Oakley (Con, North Mundham and Tangmere) said: “We do have to recognise the National Planning Policy Framework was revised in 2018 and national policy emphasis has been with getting on with the delivery of housing.

“Planning policy is about having to obey the last order and it’s moved on from where we were in 2014.”

But Donna Johnson (Local Alliance, Sidlesham and Selsey North) said: “I’m really concerned if we go down this road we are effectively changing an application and working contrary to a neighbourhood plan we are going down a very dodgy road and that road is that a community can spend a great deal of time and thousands of pounds of resources and then at a whim, whomever that may be, it can be changed.”

Gordon McAra (Ind, Midhurst) added: “I think it’s wrong for us to vary it because it’s inconvenient or a developer wishes to do something different.”

Officers said they had worked hard to try and achieve the phasing sought by the neighbourhood plan but the developer ‘has always said phasing is not appropriate and they have not changed their minds’.