Villagers erect scaffolding to show anger at homes plan

STRUCTURE Scaffolding has gone up on a plot of land earmarked for development in Westbourne
STRUCTURE Scaffolding has gone up on a plot of land earmarked for development in Westbourne

Gosport MP welcomes plans on homelessness but admits ‘it’s a significant problem’

Have your say

PEOPLE in Westbourne are facing a fresh fight against housing developments which they fear will swamp the village.

A proposed development on Long Copse Lane is the subject of an appeal after Chichester District Council refused permission for 22 homes in May following a campaign by residents.

Objectors erected scaffolding on the field – mimicking the scale of the building that is proposed – in the hope it would demonstrate their concerns about the plans.

Villagers say the stunt is to ‘starkly illustrate what a dramatic change the proposed development will to make to Westbourne village scene’.

No-one is claiming direct responsibility for putting up the scaffolding.

One villager, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We are not breaking the law as I know.

‘The scaffolding just appeared.

‘We don’t know how it got there or where it came from.’

Westbourne resident Andy Williams added: ‘The fight is now well and truly on against a proposed housing development on Long Copse Lane field in Westbourne with an overwhelming level of support from villagers.’

There are also fears about the impact on flooding, roads, traffic speeds, schools and doctors’ surgeries.

It comes as the village is being targeted on all sides for development, with 280 homes being built to the south at the former Hampshire Farm between Emsworth and Westbourne.

There are also developments underway nearby at Oak Tree Drive, Emsworth, and a 200-home estate at Copsey’s Nursery and Manor Farm in Denvilles, Havant.

A further 350 homes are proposed for the village border with Southbourne.

As reported previously, Westbourne resident Jesse Grant, whose home backs on to the field at Long Copse Lane, put up a tongue-in-cheek signpost telling people all the reasons why Westbourne, and particularly that field, could not take any more development.

Mr Williams added: ‘We owe it to those who will live here in the future to make sure the right decisions are made for the good of the village environment rather than commercial gain.

‘We are in debt to those who have protected the village environment for us in the past, now it is our turn to stand tall.

‘Quite simply I would be embarrassed to have to say to people in the future, we stood by and let this happen.’

A government inspector will now make a final decision on the appeal for the Long Copse Lane field, which has been used as grazing land for more than a century.

At the time of its refusal, councillors said it would result in ‘a prominent projection of the village into the rural area in a harmful way’.

Councillors also said the mix of affordable and market housing failed to comply with housing assessments, failing to provide an affordable four-bedroom home.

The development has been put forward by Fareham-based developer, Southcott Homes Limited.

Andrew Southcott, who owns the firm, told The News: ‘This is our take – it’s nimbyism.

‘I think the people are being selfish there.

‘There’s a housing shortage nationally, there’s a housing shortage locally.

‘There’s a housing shortage that has been identified by Chichester District Council for 25 houses needed in Westbourne.

‘I am not a greedy developer.

‘I employ local people and local contractors. We are a local company and build a decent product.

‘We do take on board the local communities, but we are not the ones that write the policy.

‘It’s the local authority that write the policies.’

He said the development would include nine affordable homes.

Mr Southcott said he had not seen the scaffolding for himself yet.

But he added: ‘We shall be taking steps to take it down.’