Grass roots campaign succeeds

By December 15, 2013February 18th, 2021No Comments

Green field is safe for ‘future generations’

12 December 2013

DELIGHT has greeted the news that an inspector has dismissed a Westbourne planning appeal.

Last week, it was announced the appeal by Southcott Homes Ltd to build 22 homes on land at Long Copse Lane had been thrown out by planning inspector Janice Trask.

Villager Jesse Grant, along with almost the whole village, has fought against the proposal which was originally rejected by Chichester District Council earlier this year.

“I would like to say we’re delighted obviously,” he said this week.

“Just because houses are needed – which I’m sure they are – it doesn’t give builders a right to build anything anywhere.

“We’re delighted with the overturning of the appeal.”

Residents took extra steps this year to flag up their opposition to the scheme.

At one point, scaffolding was erected on the field to show its impact on the village and before the appeal started a number of large signs appeared around Westbourne signposting people’s opposition with varying slogans.

“We’re very unorthodox but I think it worked,” said Mr Grant.

“I would like to thank all the local people for their help. The camaraderie that we have in the village has brought the whole village together.”

Most of the village had donated ‘fighting funds’ to the campaign, the remainder of which Mr Grant was in the process of returning to residents this week.

“I just think it was the wrong place to build.

There are places to build – brownfield sites.

“There’s so much more that could be done without ruining our countryside.

“It’s now there for us and our future generations.”

Mr Grant said he was speaking on behalf of all Westbourne residents who fought against the plan.

He described planning inspector Janice Trask as ‘extremely strict and very fair’.

Ms Trask said in her report she dismissed the appeal because the homes would result in ‘considerable harm’ to the character and appearance of the village and its setting and conflicted with the development plan.

She said she took the shortfall in Chichester District Council’s housing land supply into account, adding the harm caused would significantly outweigh the economic and social benefits of the scheme.

One of the reasons the district council refused the application was because the west part of the development would have gone beyond the existing built-up area into the surrounding rural area, which would be ‘harmful’ to the character of the area.

Dr Andrew Emerson comments

12:32 PM on 15/12/2013

Hearty congratulations to all the residents of Westbourne and especially to the team of organizers who spearheaded the campaign of opposition to Southcott Homes’ proposed development. If ever a popular campaign of grass roots protest deserved to succeed it was this one.

The Long Copse Lane campaign was unorthodox, but in a good way and it has paid off: people power has scored a well deserved victory over the money power of greedy and unscrupulous developers.

As Mr Grant has rightly pointed out, other inappropriate schemes, which will adversely affect the village, appear to be going ahead but the worst of them has been seen off, for now at least.

It’s a rather Scrooge-like Christmas present from the powers that be: to be told that one will be allowed to keep what one has (ie, the amenity of Westbourne’s natural environment) rather than lose it. But then perhaps this is all part and parcel of their policy of austerity.

Having been privileged to observe the methods employed by the Long Copse Lane campaigners, I would venture to suggest that the residents of Chichester could learn a great deal from them in organizing our own campaign against the proposed building of thousands of new homes on greenfield sites around the city.

If new homes are to be built (and without continuing mass immigration this would not be necessary, since we would then have a gently declining population) they should be built on brownfield sites and not on our remaining green fields.

Chichester Observer