After more than two hours of discussion, Chichester District Council’s planning committee approved a hybrid application for almost 200 homes in Selsey.
The two-phase plans for land east of Manor Road, next to Asda, included a full application for 119 homes at the south of the site, and outline permission for 74 homes to the north.
Officers fielded streams of questions from committee members about flooding and drainage on the seven hectare site, as well as its future viability and the impact of extra traffic on the area’s roads.
There were concerns from the Flood Action Group of Selsey that the application’s plan for dealing with surface water was not good enough, while Selsey Town Council chairman Mike Sully said the council’s guide figure in its local plan only mentioned 150 homes for the Selsey area.
Mr Sully said allowing 193 new homes would ‘make a mockery’ of the guidance.
One issue raised by several members involved a liner in the site’s attenuation basin – a system designed to prevent flooding by taking on more storm water when needed.
Questions were asked about how long the liner would last, who would be responsible for repairing it over the years and what would happen to the new homes if it failed.
Officers said they would expect the liner to last well in excess of 20 years and that a management company would be put in place as part of the development to take care of such things. Catastrophic failure of the liner was deemed to be ‘quite unlikely’.
This didn’t really satisfy John-Henry Bowden (Lib Dem, Chichester West) who said he was divided over the application.
While acknowledging it came with ‘enormous advantages’ such as much-needed affordable housing, a good design and would make better use of the land, he had concerns.
Rev Bowden said the committee was being asked to approve an application that would be ‘excellent for the next 20 years’ but had not been given enough assurances about the future viability of the new homes.
Thirty-six of the first phase homes and 23 of the second phase would be affordable – a mixture of rented and shared ownership.
Committee chairman Carol Purnell pointed out that Selsey had ‘a fairly big waiting list’ for homes and asked for assurances that the first of the homes to be let would go to people with a local link.
She was told this was an ‘important point’ which was already being worked on by the council’s solicitors and the developer.
While the committee voted to permit the application, it will first be deferred until a Section 106 agreement can be worked out. Such agreements are negotiated between the council and the developer to pay for anything from schools to roads to affordable housing.