PLANS for a housing development on a 170-year-old orchard near Emsworth have sparked massive opposition.
Havant Friends of the Earth has written to Chichester District Council, pleading with planners to refuse the plans for 25 homes on land east of Cot Lane, Chidham, known locally as Maybush Copse.
Campaigners argue the development would further erode the green gap between Emsworth and Chichester, harm wildlife and have an impact on the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Well over 150 written objections have been received.
Ray Cobbett, co-ordinator for Havant Friends of The Earth, from Emsworth, said: ‘Land south of the A259 is highly sensitive and least preferred for developments such as the one being proposed.
‘Although it is not a designated area as such it is near enough to the AONB and other protected sites to cause concern.
‘As it stands the A259 in that area forms a well-defined border between development to the north and conservation to the south of the road.
‘There are alternative and more appropriate sites in the same area to fulfil the council’s housing quota.
‘The orchard itself is rich in biodiversity with at least one protected species as well as bats, red-listed birds and other wild flora and fauna forming a wildlife corridor.
‘The application proposes using about one third of the present orchard and it seems to us highly likely that if this development were permitted, it would lead to further applications on the same site with hardly any reason for refusal.’
Claire Murphy, headteacher of Chidham Parochial Primary School, objected on behalf of the school’s governing body.
She said: ‘Orchards are part of the character and history of Chidham and Hambrook.
‘This 170-year-old traditional orchard is irreplaceable.
‘Housing estates are contrary to the character of Chidham.’
The plans were submitted by Orchard Homes And Developments Ltd.
A planning report said: ‘This considered approach has resulted in a scheme of 25 dwellings which delivers a density of 24 dwellings per hectare but also allows for a landscape-led design approach which respects the existing character of Cot Lane.’
A decision will be made at a later date.