Relief as Chichester homes plan rejected

Residents in a conservation area in Chichester are breathing a sigh of relief after a government planning inspector threw out an appeal by developers for a series of houses in a nearby back garden.

Saturday, 4th December 2010, 12:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:59 pm

Berkeley Homes wanted to build three terraced houses on land at the back of 118 St Pancras which would have involved removing a large number of trees on the River Lavant, which runs along the back of the properties in St Pancras.

Residents labelled the plans as ‘garden grabbing’. As well as the tree felling, neighbours voiced concerns over a number of issues including extra traffic which would be generated and safety concerns for pedestrians along Cutten Way but their main concern was that the scheme would have removed an important green area from the city.

Chichester District Council rejected the plans back in June, because of the homes’ size and close proximity to other properties in St Pancras and Drayman’s Mews.

It said the extent of the tree removal would have a detrimental impact on the setting of the listed buildings, and the development would fail to make a positive contribution to the character of the area.

Last week, after an appeal lodged by Berkeley Homes, a government inspector agreed with both the residents and council, and said the scheme would ‘seriously erode the setting for the listed buildings in St Pancras’.

David Souter, who lives in St Pancras, said residents had put a lot of time and effort into fighting the plans. He said while the community was pleased with the outcome, there was still an air of vigilance.

“We are all very pleased, a lot of people are cracking the champagne corks open and to a degree it’s done and dusted but I think a few of us might be little more cautious.

“We are all celebrating but you just never know what is going to happen. Having gone down this lane before I hope it is unlikely that this could be overturned, because these are always going to be listed buildings, and it is always going to be a conservation area, and you are never going to change that.

“It was interesting to see an aerial photograph of Chichester which shows all the green areas in Chichester on it. “You’ve got places like Priory Park and Litten Gardens but there are not that many green spaces in Chichester and this one shows up as a big piece of greenery, which is important for filtering air and light and those sorts of things.”

Mr Souter said residents were surprised that what they considered ‘pertinent’ concerns such as the proximity of the proposed homes to backs of their homes, and noise issues, were not taken up by the inspector, but said the decision highlighted the important contribution which older buildings made to the city.

“I think really the essence of it is that historic buildings and conservation areas in cities like Chichester are of great value and they have to be maintained. They have to be kept and nothing should be allowed to encroach on that, otherwise there wouldn’t be any nice aspects of the city left.

“I think the council deserves some credit for throwing this out.

In his report inspector K D Barton highlighted the removal of the trees, and said they were important for screening purposes:

“The trees on the southern bank of the river are deciduous and, when not in leaf, provide little screening to the site. The removal of evergreen trees on the northern bank would open up views into the site.”