Inquiry is told how homes will harm area

BUILDING almost 80 homes near Westergate would wreck the countryside, a public appeal was told.

The proposals by Hallam Land Management for the site west of Westergate would spread development into a rural area, said an Arun District Council senior planning officer.

Peter Cleveland said: “The proposal represents a significant encroachment into the countryside resulting in a significant adverse impact on the character of the area and loss of countryside.

“The proposed development is located in an unsustainable location poorly related to existing services and facilities.”

His comments came at the inquiry into the appeal by Hallam Land Management of the district council’s refusal to grant planning permission for up to 79 homes, a public open space and a children’s play area on land east of Hook Lane.

The inquiry, chaired by Katie Peerless, ended last Thursday after three days at Bognor Regis Town Hall. The decision by councillors last February was based on four reasons.

Their reasons were the site’s location outside the built up area boundary of Westergate which marks the edge of the housing and the countryside, the unsustainable nature of the proposals, the lack of legal agreements to provide affordable housing and funding towards improving public services.

The proposed development site is an unused paddock, which was last used for grazing.

Access to the site would be created by demolishing the existing house, Oakdene, which fronts Hook Lane.

Landscape planning director Lisa Toyne, for Hallam, said the impact of the planned development would be minimal and the site was on the margin of the countryside and the village.

“The appeal site is largely devoid of noteworthy features, with the majority of vegetation located on the boundaries of the appeal site,” she said.

“The exception is four specimen trees, protected by tree protection orders, located within the Oakdene plot.

“Proposed development of the appeal site will have a limited effect on landscape features, notably the loss of disused paddock grassland and incidental scrub associated with the dilapidated ancillary buildings on the appeal site.”

The trees would be retained, she said, along with the boundary vegetation. The housing would hardly be visible outside the immediate area.

David Murray-Cox, a town planner for Hallam Land Management, said: “It is clear the proposed development offers a range of benefits, including the creation of a well-designed development, the provision of both market and affordable housing and the contribution towards economic growth.”