LAND to the rear of Sturt Avenue, in Haslemere, has been allocated for 10 new homes in Chichester District Council’s (CDC) Local Plan despite strong opposition.
A document which has gone out to public consultation states development of the site is conditional on providing a satisfactory access via Sturt Avenue, submitting measures to protect key species and habitats, drawing up a high-quality design, and producing a methodology for the building foundations.
Calls were made for the council to reject the proposed allocation as “totally unsuitable” by more than 40 residents back in February.
Lynchmere Parish Council and both ward district councillors objected that the site, which was previously discounted due to access problems and because it provided a natural “buffer” between settlements, had been reinstated despite still being unsustainable.
Backing objectors, district councillor Norma Graves said: “I have very serious concerns about the soundness of the process which has been followed for the site allocation consultation. Great concerns were also expressed by a resident representing the 47 other residents who had written in answer to the consultation.
“These very real concerns, supported by photographs, showed strong evidence of groundwater flooding, drainage and other water problems.
“There are also serious traffic and access constraints along Moorfield, which is extremely narrow allowing one car at a time, no passing place and with parking on one side of the road as the houses have no garages. Moorfield leads to Sturt Avenue and Orchard Close thence to the narrow unmade track leading to the Thames Water Pumping Station.
“These roads were not built for the current level of traffic and the children attending Camelsdale School walk down Moorfield to access the school grounds.
“These concerns were listened to but we were told that none of the statutory consultees had made any negative comments on the application.”
The first stage of the Local Plan consultation process asking residents how they would like the district to look up to 2034 began earlier this month.
The deadline for responses is August 3.
The local plan was adopted in July 2015 after the Government approved it.
The Government requires the council to prepare a local plan based upon an increase in the number of people expected to live, work and visit the area.
At the time, the council was advised it would need to review the plan within five years in order to make sure that sufficient housing was planned to meet the needs of the area.
CDC cabinet member for planning Susan Taylor, said: “This is the first stage of an extensive consultation programme. This initial stage will give people the opportunity to say how they would like to see the area develop. All the comments we receive will be carefully considered before we undertake further consultation about more specific details such as housing numbers and locations next year.
“The Local Plan is vital because it provides the policies against which planning applications are assessed and it sets the direction of future development in the district, excluding those areas in the South Downs National Park.
“The plan also provides the basis for parish councils to prepare neighbourhood plans and allows us and other agencies to plan ahead to ensure that infrastructure is provided to support development.
“Many people cannot afford to live in this area, where they work, and many younger people don’t look for jobs here because they cannot afford the housing costs. The local plan offers us the opportunity to try and address these issues.
“The plan shows that we will accept change, but more importantly that we are in control of this change and are able to balance growth with other important local interests.
It’s crucial we shape the future of our district and protect our beautiful environment, as well as strengthen our ability to resist harmful speculative development. This is very important to our communities and we would encourage everyone to take part in this consultation process.”
• Complete the survey at www.chichester.gov.uk/planningpolicy, or call (01243) 785166 to request a paper copy.