Dismay as 300 new homes on AONB boundary approved by Planning Inspector

Chichester Harbour Conservancy is profoundly disappointed by the Planning Inspector’s decision to approve 300 new homes to be built on a greenfield agricultural site at Bosham. The site is on the boundary of Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Yet again, concerns for the health of the harbour and the need for a clear wildlife corridor between the AONB and South Downs were dismissed in favour of the development.

Matt Briers, CEO of Chichester Harbour Conservancy said,

“Unmitigated urbanisation across the boundary of Chichester Harbour will have a long-term effect on the health of the harbour. The remaining areas of agricultural land are the ‘green lungs’ of the harbour’, essential to creating a healthy habitat for nature to thrive.”

Pressure on Nature

The harbour is already under immense pressure from housing development on its boundaries. In September the Planning Inspector approved 198 new houses on the border of the AONB in Chidham.  Applications for a further 412 houses at, Southbourne, Nutbourne and Birdham are currently in the planning process.

Too much development is proposed just outside the boundary of the AONB, resulting in the urbanisation of the wider countryside. Ultimately this impacts on wildlife, landscape and water quality.

Pressure on Infrastructure

Water quality sampling in the harbour has identified increased levels of pollution following recent heavy rainfall. The inability of local infrastructure to cope will only be exacerbated by increased development of greenfield sites around the harbour.

Chichester Harbour is one of the most important sites for wildlife in the UK.  Already threatened, its protected habitats were assessed to be in an ‘unfavourable declining’ condition in 2021.

Matt Briers added,

“It is unacceptable to erode the boundary of the AONB in this way. The National Planning Policy Framework cites the character and setting as important factors in decision-making, yet time and again we see they are not given enough weight when it matters. The sooner we have two fit-for-purpose and adopted Local Plans, the better. Until then, such speculative developments will continue to come forward.