First new homes at Chichester’s Whitehouse Farm development deferred

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Plans for 73 new homes west of Chichester hit a bump when district councillors refused to approve an application detailing their appearance and layout.

The site, west of Centurion Way, was given outline planning permission last year and is part of phase 1 of a strategic development scheme which will see 1,600 homes built at Whitehouse Farm.

At a meeting of the planning committee on Wednesday, members deferred the application, because they did not think enough had been done to address environmental and highways concerns.

The council declared a climate emergency earlier this summer, pledging to be carbon neutral by 2030, and it was suggested that the entire application should be looked at again to ensure the new homes were built in line with that pledge.

With outline permission already given, planning officers said it would be ‘unreasonable’ to do this – and the agent for developer Miller Homes pointed out that a number of changes had already been made.

They included better insulation, class A heating and hot water systems and water saving fixtures in the bathrooms.

In addition, one-third of the new homes would have solar panels.

While the changes were more than was required from the current planning rules, some members did not think they were enough, asking why panels could not be placed on every home.

Richard Plowman (Lib Dem, Chichester North) said the entire 1,600-home development would be ‘the size of Midhurst’, so it was important to get things right.

He added: “If we are going to achieve our target of zero carbon for Chichester by 2030, we have to start now by making these house carbon zero neutral.

“They are not, even with the improvements being made.”

With only a handful of electric car charging points included in the plans, Sarah Sharp (Green, Chichester South) was worried that the site was not being designed for the future.

Proposing the deferment, she said: “I can see that the agent has made an effort to make some changes and they have listened to what we said.

“But I don’t feel the committee itself feels enough has been done.”

As well as the environmental concerns, a number of highways questions had been asked, including the type of tarmac being used, the need for cycle paths and the lack of pavements in some parts.

The committee did not think these had been answered well enough and agreed that a member of West Sussex County Council’s highways team should be asked to attend the next meeting to field questions.